Spy's Demise

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Spy's Demise
Publisher(s) Penguin Software
Designer(s) Alan Zeldin
Platform(s) Apple II (original)
Atari 8-bit, C64, TI-99/4A, Vector-06c
Genre(s) Action

Spy's Demise is an action game written by Alan Zeldin[1] for the Apple II, published by Penguin Software in 1982. It was ported to the Atari, Commodore 64, Texas Instruments TI-99/4A, and Vector-06c. The game contained a puzzle which could be solved for a Spy's Demise T-Shirt. According to Antic magazine in June 1984, only four people had solved it.

The original draft by Alan Zeldin was called Poof!, with identical game play. For marketing, it was decided to change the graphics to fit a spy theme and Mary Locke at Penguin Software created the animated spy character. The Spy's Demise title was inspired by a drink name at a spy-themed bar in Milwaukee named The Safe House.[2]

Spy's Demise was followed by a sequel, The Spy Strikes Back,[3] written by Penguin Software founder Mark Pelczarski and Robert Hardy. Both games, along with Penguin's Thunderbombs, were later released together as Arcade Album #1 for the Apple II, Atari 8-bit, and Commodore 64.[4]


The first level of Spy's Demise consists of twelve floors. The player must cross the series of floors, one at a time, while avoiding seven elevators at varying positions. Being hit by an elevator results in loss of a life. Finishing all floors starts the next level. Floors are gradually removed from level to level making it more difficult for the player to avoid the elevators. The game's music is a looped rendition of Hungarian Dance #5 in G Minor.

The puzzle consisted of a nine-line cryptogram, one line of which was displayed after completing the corresponding level. It revealed a phone number to call, and a person's name for whom to ask.[5] There is a tenth line in the programming code which is never displayed in the game itself. That tenth line gives a code word that is to be spoken to the person who answers the phone, but it was a trap planted by Penguin Software to foil anyone who tried to solve the puzzle by scanning the program code instead of playing through the end of the game!


In the July/August 1983 "New Products" column of Atari computer magazine ANALOG Computing, the author wrote "SPY'S DEMISE is the winner of this issue's 'Potato Chip' award. You can't stop playing it."[6]

In 1984 Softline readers named the game the eighth-worst Atari program of 1983, tied with Gwendolyn.[7]


A type-in machine language listing for a clone of Spy's Demise was printed in ANALOG Computing as Elevator Repairman (1985).[8] Another clone is Elevator (1986) by David Bayliss for MS-DOS.


  1. ^ "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers". dadgum.com.
  2. ^ "Arcade-style Animated Action Games". Polarware Archive site. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  3. ^ Cotone, Mark (June 1984). "Product Review: The Spy Strikes Back". Antic. 3 (2).
  4. ^ "Arcade Album #1". Atari Mania.
  5. ^ "Easter Eggs: Spy's Demise". Digital Press.
  6. ^ "New Products". ANALOG Computing (12): 18. July 1984.
  7. ^ "The Best and the Rest". St.Game. Mar–Apr 1984. p. 49. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  8. ^ Caprilli, Fred (September 1985). "Elevator Repairman". ANALOG Computing (34): 73–79.