James Bond 007

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James Bond 007

If you were to take a guess, you’d probably expect James Bond 007 to be a bland and utterly unremarkable platformer of some kind.

So for it to be a largely unconventional RPG style adventure is a very welcome suprise.

Although it never gets near being of the same quality of its obvious inspiration, Link’s Awakening, James Bond 007 offers up a virtual Bond escapade that feel genuinely different to the norm for the franchise.

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The game eases you in, with the first stage set in China. You’re tasked with finding some secret plans by fighting your way through a temple.

There’s no actual action until you’ve fixed a bridge and talked to several villagers, which definitely goes against the Bond tradition of an explosive opening.

Things get going once you steal the plans though, with several thugs and a boss (femme fatale Zhong Mae) standing in the way of your escape.

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This is where the main similarities to Zelda begin. To equip weapons and items you press select, where you can assign actions to the A and B buttons.

When you start you’ll likely equip just a block and a punch, but eventually you can choose from an arsenal of guns, machetes and various Q gadgets.

Action is admittedly stilted throughout the game, due to the limited size of the character sprites that are used, but bigger bosses do usually require a bit more than button mashing to defeat.

James_Bond-gameboy

Puzzles in the game are generally simplistic, and are usually nothing more than dressed up fetch or search quests, but there are occasions where a little thinking is required.

One example is early on in the game, where you have to sneak past a guard in a bar. To do so you need to shoot out the light so he can’t see you. There’s even a quip – “I left him in the dark” – to enjoy once you’ve complete this task.

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Its somewhat ironic that its the Bond license that maintains your interest though.

The quips, the globe trotting (locations include China, London and Kurdistan) and the fan service are what really keep you playing.

Bond flirting with Moneypenny, things going wrong in Q’s lab (sending a jet-chair through a wall is a highlight) and M’s blunt but caring attitude to 007 are all present and correct.

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It’s therefore safe to say that James Bond 007 probably wouldn’t be worth playing if it didn’t star England’s most famous fictional spy, but is undoubtedly still worth looking into if you’re fan of the franchise.

A little like Timothy Dalton, the game tries something a little different and isn’t entirely successful – but is still worth investigating if you get the chance.

From Russia With Love

Most of the Bond-related games over the past 20+ years have been either 1st or 3rd-person shooters, with a couple of 80′s text-based computer games being the exceptions. But, one game jumped out at me, and it’s something I was looking forward to firing up.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
In 2005, EA put out a game called From Russia, With Love, based on the 1963 movie. This is a spoiler-heavy walkthrough/review of a magical day for me:

Opening mission has Bond, who looks exactly like Sean Connery, and is VOICED by him, looking cool at a party. A Prime Minister’s daughter gets kidnapped by OCTOPUS (no SPECTRE license). Fight my way to the roof, where they’re escaping via helicopter.

Many ways to dispatch the thugs. There are a lot of weapons and gadgets that I accumulate throughout the game, even if I just have a Walther PPK to start the game. When I’m too close to shoot, I automatically perform some Bond-ish hand-to-hand move to take them out. Looks cool, and saves ammo. I found a lot of ammo/armor throughout the game, but there are multiple difficulties if you’re looking for a higher challenge.

When I reach the roof, I beat a guy up for his jet-pack, now I’m flying around shooting missiles at the helicopter. After destroying it, a cool cut-scene has me flying through it, saving the girl. I tell her, “My name’s Bond…James Bond”, then fly away.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
Opening ‘movie’ credits start, with actual scenes from the film! This was just 20 minutes or so into the game, and I’m hooked!
Next, I fight more OCTOPUS thugs through a hedge-maze, then I’m KILLED by Red Grant, played by the awesome Robert Shaw in the film. A cut-scene shows “Bond” to be an OCTOPUS training exercise for Red (the game’s main bad guy, working for Rosa Klebb) to practice killing Bond. I also find out that their mission is to trick Bond into stealing something called Lektor (some decoding device), then stealing it from Bond after killing him, which is payback for Bond killing Dr. No. Ridiculously convuluted, but very Bondish.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
After flirting with Moneypenny and getting briefed by M (I’ll be off to Instanbul to meet Russian-hottie Tatiana), I have a training-session with Q and pick up gadgets like the Q-copter (spies through vents and self-destructs) and the rappel-device (you’ll use both a lot).
Kerim Bey is your contact in Istanbul, and brings you your Aston Martin. This chase level is action-packed with guns/missiles/tire spikes as weapons against the evil Russians. Bonus coolness for taking out a tank.
Next level has me rescuing hostages and disarming bombs, capping off with the first appearance of the bazooka, to destroy another helicopter. Time to spy on the Russians.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
More Aston Martin action, then cut through some Russians to steal a boat. I need to get under the Russian consulate to use a periscope to spy.
My eavesdropping learns the Lektor is in a vault, and that the Russians are going to kill people in a Gypsy camp. Karim heads to the camp to warn ‘his” people. After kicking more Russian ass, I escape through the underground tunnels via jetpack. Some awesome jetpack-on-jetpack action!

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
The gypsy-camp was more hostage-rescuing, and I get the sniper rifle for the first time.
Next mission has me saving Karim’s ass again with a lot of sniping. Feels good killing Russians.
I meet Tatiana for the first time. She’s in my bed, of course, and I show her my 007…she’s now in love with me.
We, along with Karim, have to break into the Russian Consulate to steal the Lektor. I think this was probably the longest level.
Another car chase on the way to the train, Orient Express, which is our escape.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
Red is on the train, kills Karim, and tries to kill me. I fight him off, but he escapes with the Lektor while I’m occupied with some ‘roided Russian flunkie. I fight my way to Red, and kill him, his body taken away by a speeding train. I have to inform Karim’s son that his father is dead…now I’m pissed. Red’s assisstant, Eva Adara, has escaped with the Lektor.
I infiltrate an OCTOPUS complex looking for the Lektor. More jetpacks and car chases. Some robot tank comes after me, as well. I take back the Lektor. Blow the base for the fun of it.
Another Aston Martin chase on the way to the docks to steal a boat. have to get out of the country.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
Long boat ride with Tatiana driving and me turretting people/boats/helicopters.
Rosa sneaks into my hotel room and tries to kill me with a huge-ass blade in her shoe. I keep her at bay, and Tatiana help me kill her…good girl.
Last mission is pretty long. OCTOPUS is pissed, so they’ve threatened to nuke. I break into their secret base, and kill a lot of henchmen. Eva tries to kill me with a jet, but I jetpack-missile her dead. After disarming the nuke and setting bombs to blow the base…….I run in to Red. I should have looked for the body.
He’s the final boss, as he’s taken residence inside a 4-tentaculed mechanical robot that shoots lasers, bullets, and grenades. After destroying the mech, I put a bullet in Red for my friend Karim.
Game ends with Bond in bed with Tatiana, of course. Well done, sir.
From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
This game is overwhelmingly awesome, but I’ll start with the few bad points:
It’s really easy, even with the hardest difficulty-setting. There’s not much need for duck-and-cover stealth fighting because it’s heavy on extra ammo/armor health. You can do a lot of run-and-gunning, but I found myself having more fun being sneaky.
Also, as a lot of these 3rd-person games can do, the camera can get “stuck” and get you turned around.
There’s probably 8-10 hours of gameplay, not counting multiplayer, which I never got into.
It looks beautiful. Character recreations are spot-on, and the backgrounds/locations/animations are great.

From Russia with Love - EA - 2005 - Gameplay Screenshot
A lot of cut-scenes. Well done, and a lot re-created from the original film.
The music is perfect. Again, taken from the Bond films and gets your blood pumping throughout the game.
Controls, especially with the auto-lock, are done well.
The fun-factor is off the charts, a Bond fan or just one of the action-adventure genre.

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The replayability is there, with multiplayer. But there is scoring in the campaign. A lot of secrets to find buy going back through it. Also, bonus story-levels to unlock.
A ton of gadgets, including sonic cufflinks to stun baddies, and the attache case that has auto-machine gun.
Different outfits for Bond. If you’d rather not get blood on your white tuxedo, go with the black stealth look.
There’s a crazy amount of fun to this game, so if you want to fire up the original Xbox, this is a fantastic game with which to start.

James Bond: The Stealth Affair

Long before GoldenEye established the gold standard for James Bond action games, 007 had a PC gaming presence, with games dating back as far as 1983 (the Commodore 64 game James Bond 007).  Most were based on the various Bond movies, and were either interactive fiction, such as James Bond: A View to a Kill(1984) and James Bond 007: Goldfinger (1986), or arcade action side/vertical scrollers, such as The Living Daylights (1987) or 007: License to Kill (1989).  Some were forgettable, some enjoyable, but the first graphic adventure James Bond adventure is today’s featured game: James Bond: The Stealth Affair.

James Bond - The Stealth Affair - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Box art for James Bond: The Stealth Affair

The story revolved around a missing F-19 stealth fighter, stolen from an American base and tracked (how did they do that?) to somewhere in Latin America.  Who did it? Could it be the Russians pulling a Red October or could it be some Latin American tinpot dictator or crime lord?  The danger of having a Latin American drug lord having stealth technology was sufficient to bring in the best troubleshooter in the business: James Bond.  The action began as fast as our man James stepped off his flight into the Santa Paragua airport, holding only a briefcase and his airline ticket, with the need to somehow get past a maddeningly efficient airport security guard.  “I don’t care who you are. In this country you are all outsiders.“  The game moved on from there, with a variety of puzzles to solve, as well as a few arcade action sequences to complete.

James Bond - The Stealth Affair - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Splash title page for James Bond: The Stealth Affair

The Stealth Affair was a graphic adventure using a point&click interface, which means an inevitable pixel hunt.  The command menu was brought up by right-clicking the mouse, and consisted of EXAMINE, TAKE, INVENTORY, USE, OPERATE, and SPEAK.  Descriptions were provided when you used the EXAMINE command on objects, and you could either TAKE some items to later USE them in other situations, or OPERATE devices immediately.  You could not EXAMINE your INVENTORY, however.

James Bond - The Stealth Affair - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

James Bond The Stealth Affair copy protection screen

Interestingly, The Stealth Affair was a James Bond adventure game title only in North America.  The game was originally released in Europe as Operation Stealth, and it wasn’t James Bond that was attempting to recover the missing stealth technology, it was agent John Glames.  The developer of The Stealth Affair was Delphine Software, based out of France.  Their previous hit was Future Wars, but would go on to produce some amazing games, including Out of This World (released as Another World in Europe), Flashback, and Fade to Black, among others.  Interplay Productions was the game publisher who distributed Delphine’s games, and whose logo was emblazoned upon the box covers of the North American versions.  It was Interplay who acquired the James Bond license and who initiated the change to the Operation: Stealth game from a generic spy adventure game to playing 007 of Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  The powers-that-be decided that the James Bond franchise was a bankable commodity, so they altered all instances of John Glames into James Bond.  In addition, some of the action sequences were removed, presumably to make for easier gameplay, and some of the bad French to English game text was reworded. Oddly both Bond and Glames were working for the CIA, which to a Bond enthusiast, is a serious faux pas.  But I digress.

James Bond - The Stealth Affair - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Box art for Operation Stealth

The game simply begged for Sean Connery voiceovers, but, alas, the IBM PC version lacked digitized voices.  Darn technology and/or budget limitations!  However, the Amiga version had synthesized voices (with 1 MB or higher RAM), but a serious bug in the code can lead to a full system crash if using the player got tired of listening to the dialogue and attempted to click through with the mouse button.  As one of the attention-challenged brethren of gamers, that’s a serious flaw that exploits a common weakness!

James Bond - The Stealth Affair - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Why is James Bond working for the C.I.A.?

The Stealth Affair was released on three formats in North America: IBM PC (MS-DOS), Amiga, and Atari ST.  Reviews were generally favorable, with .info giving the game 4.5 out of 5 stars in their March 1991 issue, stating that, “No Bond fan should miss this one.”  However, some reviewers were more ambivalent towards the game, such as the review in the May 1991 issue of Compute!, wherein the game is described as, “Controlled by either keyboard or mouse, the Bond of The STEALTH Affair moves and acts in a manner like that of his namesake in latter-day 007 movies-that is, choppy and silly, trading the quiet sophistication of Ian Fleming’s hero for a goofy nonchalance.”  Still, accepting the technology limitations of its day, James Bond: The Stealth Affair was a fun game.  Perhaps not worthy of the top 100 games of all time, but still in the running for the next one hundred, and well-worth a look by any retrogamer yearning for a spy-based adventure game!

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Magisterrex has been gaming since the days of Pong and still owns a working Atari 2600. He tends to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games.  If you’re into classic old school gaming check out his blog here

Kelly Wheelis: Sumo Panda Games

Sumo Panda Games logo

Name: Kelly Wheelis

Company: Dragonsmeet Inc. / Sumo Panda Games

Profession: Publicist

Favorite Classic Game: GoldenEye 007

Quote: I love GoldenEye for N64. It redefined the first-person shooter. Withoutit, there would be no Half-Life, no Halo, no Fallout, all of which I love so dearly. With tons of levels to play through, including scenarios from past James Bond films, the game is never boring. The sheer joy experienced by putting a bullet in some Russian’s head with the sniper rifle, from 200 yards, never gets old, the countless mission objectives spread across 12 different environments and three difficulty levels offers loads of variety in action, along with the death-match option have helped cement this game’s place in gamer’s hearts everywhere.

To this day, I still set up nights to play the multiplayer death-match with friends. Playing the first-person mode presents levels that cover many ranges of play such as Doom-style play (all shooting and no brains), to search-and-destroy missions (requiring more strategy), to a wide range of carefully designed information-acquiring levels; all blending together to create an incredibly satisfying gaming session. Plus, who didn’t love all those super cool Bond gadgets and gizmos? Magnet Attract Watch FTW! Now that a Wii remake of the game is planned, from what I have seen, I’m going to have to purchase the console just so I can try it.  ‘Slappers’ anyone?

Bio: Sumopanda is an online games portal specializing in providing free and fun to play games. Sumopanda’s parent company, Dragonsmeet, was founded on the belief that fun should be accessible to anyone. And with online entertainment increasingly becoming our preferred past-time, SumopandaGames.com was created to make this belief a reality.

Spy Hunter

Spy Hunter
Spy Hunter

Spy Hunter

In the 80’s Spy Hunter was the game to play especially if your arcade was lucky enough to have the full sit-down version of the game that was actually shaped like the car. It had fast driving, a bunch of different weapons and a theme that stayed stuck in your head for months. I loved Spy Hunter; I just sucked really really bad at it.

Spy Hunter showed up in arcades in 1983, developed by Bally Midway you played the role of a spy driving a high-tech sports car. Your mission was to race down the mother of all freeways taking out enemy vehicles which later really seemed un-spy like to me. While it is true James Bond is known for his awesome cars it’s not like all he did was drive around taking out bad guys, but then again maybe that would have been better than Die Another Day.

Speaking of James Bond, the early versions of the game used the theme created by Monty Norman, but because of copyright issues Midway was forced to change the theme to a version of Henry Mancini’s, Peter Gunn. Strangely the theme only plays during certain parts of the game like the beginning and when you get a new weapon beyond that there is no music and only the in-game sound effects.

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Now the game itself is not too difficult in principle, you start off on a highway in your G-6155 Interceptor which was modeled after the 1983 Camaro Z28. On the top of your screen you have your score and a timer counting down from 1000. During this phase you have unlimited lives to get use to the game.

Along the route you will run into civilian cars which you are not to destroy even though some of them seem to move into your path or try to bump you. It is truly humiliating when one of the civilian cars blazes by you even when you are driving at full speed. If you destroy a civilian car your score counter stops denying you of points for a while and your weapons truck will only show up once per area to give you new weapons.

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Once your “free time” is over you will begin to encounter enemy cars such as ones with blades that come from its tires to slash yours sending you off the road. There are also armor plated cars which you can’t shoot, you have to knock them off the road or use a smoke screen or an oil slick. You also have a limo which will pull alongside you to shoot you in the face with a shotgun and finally a helicopter that drops bombs on you.

To help you out on your “Spy Hunting” your weapons van (which looks a lot like Optimus Prime) will come every so often and give you different weapons including an oil slick, a smoke screen or missiles. All these weapons have limited usage, but can be refilled if you live long enough and don’t kill any civilian cars. Your weapons van (which really is a semi-truck) will give you new weapons and refill existing ones.

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The graphics were what you would expect from 1983, it was a top down game meaning you played from an overhead view and the landscape only had minor changes in color and a plant or two on the side of the road. The exception was when you switched to boat mode and fought on the water and when you entered the winter area where the ground was icy.

I personally only made it to the boat twice and the ice level once, this is because I sucked really bad. Also you could have all three weapons upgrades on your car at one time, but again, you had to not suck as much as I did.

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The game was very successful and ported to pretty much every computer and console system of the day and a movie was even in the works starting The Rock, but there has been little news of its production of late.

Spy Hunter is classic action even though driving on the highway is not really Spy Hunting and your car is pretty lame at first and civilian cars drive faster than you and the switchblade cars sucked major ass and being shot in the face by a limo blows chunks and the music turned off making the explosion of my car audible to everyone and I ran out of quarters trying to get to the boat level.

You can find this game in its flash version pretty much anywhere and its worth trying out, there are other versions and a Spy Hunter 2, but the original was the best in my opinion and one day I hope to make it back to that icy level.