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Nintendo Switch SPY×ANYA: Operation Memories Review

If you’re a fan of the anime, Spy x Anya: Operation Memories will feel like a relaxed, slice-of-life side-story, complete with wholesome, adorable moments and some fun interactions between the characters you love.
 
 

Official Review

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Listen up, Spy x Family fans. Operation Strix is on and the only way to ensure world peace is to help Anya Forger with her homework. In the case of Spy x Anya: Operation Memories, that means taking her to lots of fun places and taking pictures of her while she does adorable things. It is a low-stakes, cosy adventure that will make fans of the Spy x Family smile and leave everyone else scratching their heads in confusion.

The confusion isn't because the game is particularly complicated – it is actually delightfully, relaxingly simple. However, unless you are familiar with the characters and jokes of Spy x Family, most of the plot of Spy x Anya is going to go straight over your head. The game assumes that you know the overall goal of Operation Strix and that each of the Forgers has a secret they are keeping from everyone else. Loid is a spy. Yor is an assassin. Anya can read minds. Even the dog can see the future.

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Without knowledge of the anime, the gameplay loop is going to feel a bit underwhelming. Anya has been given an assignment to create a diary, so the Forgers resolve to go on trips – called Outings, or Ootings in Anya-speak – where she can play, study, and take pictures. It feels a bit like a very guided Pokémon Snap but without some of the random interactions that made that game such a fun journey.

Here it is very easy to decide what you're going to take a picture of and to get the snap you want. The controls are forgiving enough that it will be rare you don't get top marks for your photography skills. You just need to get the focus right, find the right angle, and pick the most dramatic moment to capture, all things that the game tells you how to do each time. You even get multiple attempts each Outing, so there really is no excuse not to get the maximum score possible. It might have been nice to have a bit more freedom to find our own angle and be more creative with the pictures, but it works for the more structured format the developers are going for.

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Outings happen every three in-game days, so you'll spend a few days going to school and spending time with Anya's adoptive family. Both of these give the opportunity to take more pictures to fill Anya's diary. At the end of each day, you can play a surprisingly large selection of minigames to earn points to spend on new outfits for the Forgers to wear at the Outings, thus allowing you to vary up your pictures a bit more.

It is a simple but effective cycle that never feels stressful or oppressive. It can start to feel time-consuming to play out multiple days between Outings, but within a few hours, the game even gives you the ability to skip the school sessions or autocomplete the minigames if you want. Considering that the Outings are where you unlock new venues to visit, which in turn unlocks new minigames to play, there is some incentive to speeding through the process at times.

If you are a completionist, there is plenty in Spy x Anya: Operation Memories to keep you coming back to the different Outings and playing the games. Each of the 17 minigames has three difficulty levels and different achievements. The downside to having so many to play is that, invariably, some of them feel flat and underwhelming. Yor stabs and kicks her way through waves of enemies, but they're all so easy to beat that there isn't really much sense of achievement here. On the other hand, the pseudo-Endless Runner minigame is adorable and surprisingly challenging.

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The important thing to remember, though, is that you don't have to do any of these minigames or buy new outfits for the characters to wear. Unless you are hell-bent on unlocking everything Spy x Anya: Operation Memories has to offer, the only thing that is plot-relevant is going on the Outings and taking pictures. Of the dozens of items available in the shop, only a handful are necessary to advance what serves as the plot. Everything else is just fleshing out that experience. This is a simple, cosy, relaxing game that you shouldn't stress out over.

The translation of the anime character designs to game models mostly works. There are some awkward movements here and there, but on the whole, it nails the anime video game aesthetic. The visuals won't wow anyone but they are good enough for a laid-back game like this. The load times are a touch long and Anya seems to pause slightly when you enter or exit an environment, but these are minor technical issues that, at worst, are a slight annoyance and, even then, only if you play for several hours at a time.

Spy x Anya: Operation Memories is at its best when played somewhere warm and comfortable. While it played fine in docked mode, it was far more rewarding to guide young Anya through her day while we curled up in bed with the lights down low. This is the 'cute girls doing cute things' game of the year so far. When it strayed too far from that premise, such as the beat-'em-up or dodgeball minigames, it felt stiff and awkward. It is meant to be a simple, wholesome, and relaxing experience, even if it doesn't let you really flex your creative muscles when taking pictures.

Conclusion

If you're a fan of the anime, Spy x Anya: Operation Memories will feel like a relaxed, slice-of-life side-story, complete with wholesome, adorable moments and some fun interactions between the characters you love. The stakes are low and the gameplay is perhaps too easy, but it's a good way to unwind after a busy day. Between the wealth of minigames to choose from – some of them actually quite good, others lackluster – and the dozens of outfits to put the Forgers in, anime fans will find a way to play that suits them.

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Nintendo Switch Review information

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3.50 star(s)

Pros

+ Cozy gameplay that is a wholesome way to unwind
+ Solid interpretation of the Spy x Family world for fans of the anime
+ Plenty of minigames and locations to unlock

Cons

- Some minigames are underdeveloped and awkward
- Story assumes you know the setting and characters ahead of time
- Photography mechanic is too easy and lacks a creative flair

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