James Bond 007 Review

James Bond 007 game boy box art

Bland graphics and dull gameplay in yet another unfit movie license game.

Story

An illegal weapons dealing ring threatens to create a new world order. The peace and security of the entire planet is at stake. MI6 sent agent 008 into Turkey to dismantle a key operation. Soon thereafter, all contact was lost with 008. MI6 then made the decision to send their best agent, James Bond, to investigate the whereabouts of the lost agent. As Bond arrives in Turkey, he quickly finds himself entangled in his deadliest mission yet.

The Game

James Bond 007 on the Game Boy is an action oriented adventure game in which you play as the special agent James Bond. The game will have you travel various locations around the globe in an effort to first locate and rescue your fellow agent 008 who was investigating a global arms smuggling ring. This will, of course, get you in deeper trouble and before you know it you will have to use what ever means necessary just to survive.

You are given orders from headquarters as you progress through the story, but the ultimate goal is to put an end to the smugglers’ plans. The game itself consists of lots of fighting and exploration. You will be looking for key persons and important objects needed to track down the criminals involved in the concurring events.

The game is played form an isometric top-down view. The camera is located far from you, making everything on the screen minimal in size. The camera is always static, so there are no scrolling effects – instead, you move from one screen to another.

When the game begins you have nothing but your bare fists. You can either block or throw punches. Throughout the adventure you will get the chance to use various weapons such as a machete, a pistol, machine guns, rocket launchers and hand grenades. There are numerous other items that will come in handy such a grappling hook, med-kits, band-aids and bullet proof vests.

Controls

There are plenty of bad guys in the game, and fighting is a central aspect of the game. Since all the sprites are so small on the screen, it quickly becomes painfully obvious that the sprite collision is horribly inaccurate. The game registers hits – for- and against you – even though the attack actually doesn’t connect. This is true for every weapon and attack in the game, and it becomes especially notable when you’re fighting multiple enemies in cramped locations. One single punch can easily hit two or three guys at a time and bullets are sometimes impossible to dodge.

Since the sprite collision is so clunky, you can easily exploit it. You can’t shoot diagonally, but you can easily find blind spots where you can safely attack an enemy without him being able to attack you. Likewise, enemies will be able to get in some cheap hits on you.

Most enemies, when defeated, will drop either a band-aid, which instantly recovers some of your lost health, or ammunition. In this regard the game is quite generous. Defeated enemies will respawn, but only after a long while so it’s quite fair also.

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Because of the above mentioned issues, the game rewards careful tactics. You can often use the environment to your advantage because the enemy AI isn’t smart enough to walk around obstacles. They’ll often get caught on props and even fire their guns mindlessly into nearby walls. Rushing into a group of enemies and hack them to pieces with the machete can be quite effective, but it’s practically impossible to avoid taking some hits in the process. For each strike you land, the enemy will get stunned and pushed back somewhat. If you keep attacking repeatedly, it’s possible to keep an enemy stunned until he dies. This tactic does feels like an exploit though.

The game features a health gauge, and when you get hurt you’re given a brief invulnerability shield. When your health drops to zero, you die. But after your death you can choose to either discard your progress, or save your game and retry the mission keeping the items that you collected before you died. It’s somewhat unconventional, but it’s a very nice feature as you won’t necessarily have to do the entire mission from scratch.

Pressing the Select button will bring up your inventory screen. There you can equip items, and assign them to either the A- or B button. Pressing the corresponding button while in the game will then use that item. When you want to give something to someone, you must go to the menu, equip the item and then use the item near that person. It’s unnecessarily clunky, and it’s an activity that you’ll be doing a lot.

Unarmed combat is in many situations the better choice. The attack rate of bare fists is much higher than of any other weapon, and the accuracy is also higher. All ranged weapons behave the same – the only thing that differs is the damage output. You can only fire one bullet at a time which doesn’t make any sense.

Content

Hunting down bad guys and traveling the world as a special agent sounds like an exciting adventure – or at least a perfect premise for an exciting game. This excitement is sadly not present in this game at all. First of all, there are numerous occasions when you must find important items for your mission and these items can’t be seen in any way. Most of the time you aren’t given any clues as to where to look either, so in order to find them you are forced to walk around trying to interact with anything that happens to come in your way. This means pushing every single wall and object in every single location.

Once you find an item it’s often something that doesn’t make any sense for your mission. For example, stealing a turkey and giving it to a cat owner will lead to him giving you a cat. The cat can be given to a man who has a problem with mice. As a thanks for the cat you are given a pearl. The pearl can be traded for a fake passport. When you give the passport to a man who’s looking to leave the country, he’ll reward you with a pair of night vision goggles. And it goes on like this. Needless to say, much of the game is illogical and doesn’t feel much like a James Bond adventure. In this regard, the game is a failure, and reminds more of a parody than anything else.

Another aspect that ruins the game is the highly incoherent level design. Navigating through the game is a constant headache because the layout just doesn’t add up. A tunnel passage can magically teleport you back to where you were three screens ago, and houses can have exits that take you to another part of town. There’s even a desert that loops infinitely until you exit the screens in a specific pattern.

The levels are typically designed so that you have to explore multiple possible paths. It gives a sense of freedom, but there are plenty pointless dead ends which are only there to waste your time.

The game cartridge can hold up to three different game saves, and you can even name your agent. But other than this there are no other features. You can’t adjust difficulty level or anything.

The game has eight missions. Each mission has its own set of enemies, but it’s mostly terrorists armed with various weapons. Beating the game will take about eight hours or so granted that you don’t get lost for too long in the illogical twists and turns that the story consists of.

Some of the locations you’ll be exploring during the course of the game include secret underground tunnels, enemy bases, Tibetan mountains and a Russian junkyard.

Every now and then you’ll run into a boss fight, and while these typically aren’t anything special challenge wise, they do give a little extra spice to the overall experience.

Graphics

As mentioned above, the sprites in the game are tiny in size, so there isn’t much room for details. The animation is also minimal, so there isn’t much eye candy to enjoy there. Also the environments are mostly poorly drawn – there are plenty of disproportioned props, and even some stuff that you can’t tell what they’re supposed to be. The art direction – having a childish look and feel – is a brutal mismatch for a James Bond game. It’s hard to imagine that they even thought about James Bond when they produced the graphics. But since the sprites are so small there’s really not much room for styling the graphics.

The frame rate suffers from slowdowns consistently when there are more than two enemies on the screen at one time. To be fair, it doesn’t affect the game negatively that much – it does give you more time to think about what’s going on.

Dialogue boxes are so poorly designed that it’s hard to follow who said what. It only fits a few words at a time, making for some very chopped up reading.

Sound

The iconic James Bond theme song does appear in the game whenever the story progresses forward. The other music is kind of ambient and reminds of a typical espionage adventure, so at least it is fitting for the setting. That is not to say that it’s good however. It’s very generic and uninspired, and there are no good songs in the entire game.

There’s not really much to say about the sound effects. While they have their own charm, they aren’t good enough to uplift the game experience.

Summary

James Bond 007 for Game Boy is in many ways a silly game. Everything about it basically fails in one way or another. While it does have some charm and is quite playable it certainly isn’t the worst game out there. The fighting sequences are frequent and just not very fun to sit through. The adventuring aspects are even worse if you are impatient. The sound and graphics are bland as well, and there’s no replay to speak of. Yes, this is yet another prime example of how movie licensed games can fail.

Developed By: Saffire
Published By: Nintendo
Version Reviewed: Game Boy
Genre: Adventure
Players: 1
Released: 1997

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