The Spy Who Loved Me - Amiga game review

The Spy Who Loved Me is a 1990 computer game based on the 1977 film. This game was by Domark - who by now had mastered the art of making disappointing James Bond games. The Spy Who Loved Me appeared on various platforms - most notably the Amiga. It got a PC release but didn't sell very well. A game based on The Spy Who Loved Me sounds like an exciting prospect on the face of it. You might be expecting a ski sequence or a section set around pyramids. You don't get any of that in the end. About 90% of this game is basically a remake of Spy Hunter. Spy Hunter was a good little game for its day but you'd expect an Amiga game to be a lot more ambitious than that.

The Spy Who Loved Me begins with a terrible rendition of the Bond theme and a gunbarrel featuring a blocky sprited (I don't know if sprited is an actual word but it should be) figure who bears no resemblence whatsoever to Roger Moore. The first section involves Bond and Anya in Sardinia driving to the hotel. Bond's car is obviously his gadget equipped Lotus. This is a top down driving section where you have to dodge pedestrians and pick up Q tokens which are scattered in the road at various points.

The Q tokens allow you to equip the car with more gadgets later. The graphics in this level are colourful but nothing special for the Amiga. You might have hoped that the extra computing power of the Amiga would be harnessed to make something more special than Domark's previous C64 Bond games but The Spy Who Loved is business as usual.

The game doesn't let you go to the next level unless you pick up enough Q tokens so you you have to make slow progress to ensure that you don't just drive past them. After a few minutes of this the level quickly becomes tedious. The next level of the game is a top down speedboat section. You have to avoid swimmers, pick up more tokens, and use missiles to shoot enemies. You must also use ramps to jump over obstacles. What any of this has to do with The Spy Who Love Me I don't know. It's suddenly more like a Live and Let Die game. This speedboat section, like the first driving section, soon becomes mononotous.

There is another driving section next in Sardinia again. This time there are enemies trying to force you off the road and you have to drive into a Q truck at various points to get more equipment. You get some gadgets like missiles and the ability to spray paint at enemy cars. While this might sound exciting it isn't much fun to play. Once again you have to pick up those tokens (which are becoming annoying by now) because you won't be able to progress in the game if you don't get enough of them.

Oil slicks frequently skid you off the road and the car is fiddly to control. The worst thing about this section is that no great sense of speed is ever generated. The motorcycle and helicopter from the film make an appearance in this level but the gameplay is still a tiresome update of Spy Hunter.

The second Sardinia section goes on for far too long and becomes very repetitive. The missiles you fire are weedy and poorly animated and in no time at all you want the level to end so you can move onto something else. The objective is reach the jetty so that the Lotus can dive off into the water. It is a great relief when this finally happens. The next level is the underwater Lotus section. At last we have something different. This level looks good and is a welcome relief after that endless driving section.

The underwater Lotus is equipped with missiles and must fight frogmen and mini submarines. I like the bubbles that come out the back of your Lotus. This level has more zip to it than the car driving section (which is strange as it takes place underwater) and the weapons and combat is punchier and more satisfying. The Spy Who Loved Me becomes a vertically scrolling shooter in the underwater section and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned because I was getting awfully tired of the Spy Hunter style levels.

At the end of this level you have to destroy a giant structure armed with powerful lasers. By this stage the game has become considerably more difficult but I'm not complaining because the shoot 'em up action has at least given us more entertainment than the early levels ever provided. The next level takes place on Stromberg's supertanker. You have to attack the control room. There's quite a nice backdrop here with a captured submarine laying in the water.

This supertanker level mixes up the gameplay again. It is an Operation Wolf/Cabal style shooting gallery level. The 'shooting gallery' type of game was briefly popular around this time but rendered completely obselete in the end by the FPS genre. Why would you play Cabal anymore when you can play Doom? 

You use the mouse in the control room section to move a cursor around and shoot both frogmen and Stromberg's men running around platforms. Once you've done this you have to alter the launch codes of Stromberg's missiles. The next level has Bond riding a jetski and firing missiles at boats and speedboats. The level is basically a vertically scrolling shooter style of game again. It isn't as much fun as the underwater car section but it at least has some zip and speed to it and there is plenty of action.

The final level is another Operation Wolf style shooting gallery and takes place in a corridor on Stromberg's undersea base Atlantis. You have to shoot red boiler suited goons and Jaws makes an appearance - which is nice. Stromberg also makes a appearance with Anya as a hostage. Anya looks nothing like Barbara Bach and is wearing a bikini that leaves little to the imagination. This last level is fiddly and difficult to the point of being unfair. You might need cheat codes to get through it.

The game ends with an image of Bond and Anya in the escape pod. Once again the likeness to Roger Moore is atrocious. The Spy Who Loved Me was Domark's last Bond game but sadly it isn't an improvement on the consistently mediocre list of Bond games which made up a fair portion of their back catalogue. Parts of the game are quite good but those Spy Hunter style sections are not very interesting at all and leave a poor impression. If you slog your way through the rest of the game (and good luck with that) you are at least rewarded with the decent underwater car level but those shooting gallery sections are nothing to write home about.

The Spy Who Loved Me is a disappointing game in the end. You would hope a Bond game on the Amiga might be a quantum leap from Domark's C64 Bond games but that isn't the case. To rely so heavily on top down car sections is very lazy and uninspired and while the game does try to give you some variety later on none of it is good enough to make the game anything more than a very average sort of retro gaming 007 experience.

- GH


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