Version tested: Retro
We (the British) have funny ideas about spies. Either they're ultra-suave, tuxedo'd public school boys with expensive, deadly wristwatches (who'd stand out a mile in a crowd), or they're sleazy, rain coated, privacy invaders wearing off-the-rack trilbies and carrying a newspaper with eye holes cut in it (who'd also stand out a mile in a crowd).
As far from the truth as these comic book stereotypes might be, Mastertronic chose to wedge the latter archetype into their comical espionage pigeonhole in Agent X (In The Brain Drain Caper). Naturally, any spy-based game, whether it's got a tongue jammed firmly into its cheek or not, requires some kind of world threatening motivation to spur our sneaky superman into covert action. Agent X has been called into duty after the President of ‘Merca was kidnapped by a mad professor. A ransom note tells the world powers of a plot to brainwash the Pres and turn him into a warmongering manic (I know! That's totally poignant and just as hilarious today, eh?!).
The only thing that's buying the Agent any breathing room is the mad professor's difficulty in finding the Yank's brain (it just gets better, and more relevant! Someone should send a copy of this game to Dubya. Tee hee!). Racing through the isometric streets in his prerequisite spy mobile, then taking to his loafers in a pretty standard fair platformer, Agent X must get to El Presidente before his already addled brain succumbs to the dose of Ariel soap powder and five minutes on boil wash.
What would be a fairly mediocre multi-loader was actually very well received since Agent X was released directly to the Mastertronic budget label, weighing it at an impressively affordable £1.99 from new. A more white-knuckled publisher would certainly have put this varied and enjoyable title out at full price, making Agent X a well remembered favourite for many an underprivileged Speccy owner (which we all were, otherwise we'd have owned Amigas, wouldn't we).
7 / 10