ALTERNATIVE 007


James Bond Retro Games 

James Bond: The Stealth Affair is a 1990 point and click adventure by Delphine Software. You could probably call this an arcade adventure because it has some arcade elements.
This game is more interesting and ambitious than the mediocre glut of Bond games from Domark. James Bond: The Stealth Affair did not actually start life as a James Bond game. It was released in Europe as a Bond pastiche titled Operation Stealth.
In that game you played as a CIA agent named John Glames who has to locate a top secret stealth plane in the fictional Latin American nation Santa Paragua. The game then gained a James Bond licence for the American release and became James Bond: The Stealth Affair. John Glames obviously became James Bond in the United States version of the game. The two games are nearly identical apart from this. James Bond: The Stealth Affair explains Bond working for the CIA by saying he is on loan to them. This is clunky but neccessary. For the American version of this game they obviously had to come up with an explanation for why James Bond is taking his orders from the CIA rather than MI6.
James Bond: The Stealth Affair uses a mouse controlled interfaced system which was introduced in the game Future Wars. This makes the control system in the game easy to use. If you have played point and click adventures you'll have a good idea of what to expect. A lot of walking around, talking to people, and finding objects. This game is not on a level with the classic Lucasfilm point and click adventures like The Secret of Monkey Island and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis but it is competent for what is. If nothing else it is a relief to play a retro James Bond game and not have to put up with Domark's top down car driving for the umpteenth time.
James Bond: The Stealth Affair, graphically, looks fine for 1990, and has some nice backdrops. The story takes place in hotels, briefing rooms, parks, streets, cavarns, jungles, and at sea. There are some nice cliffanger scenarios where Bond is captured and plenty of humour. The puzzles in the game are not annoyingly obtuse so even those of us who are not brilliant at point and click aventures can get into this game without becoming too frustrated. The music is quite disco jaunty and not very James Bond. Bond himself wanders around in a tuxedo and is fairly well animated. The control room backdrops near the end are great and very Bondian. They have a 1960s sci-fi design.
The actual story is not one that ever really grabs you but it isn't bad either. James Bond: The Stealth Affair is a likeable game but not one that ever amounts to an outrageosly memorable experience. This is one of those games that is quite interesting to play but after you've finished with it you forget all about it.
We have to now sadly mention the arcade sequences in James Bond: The Stealth Affair. This minigames are largely atrocious. There is one were you are swimming underwater which is utterly forgettable. There is also a top down Gauntlet style (which is unfair to Gauntlet because that's a good game) maze sequence which looks hideous and isn't very interesting to play. A jetski sequence (which looks like a C64 game from 1984) is so dark that it is difficult to make anything out. I'm merely presuming it is a jetski sequence. It's so dark it could be anything.
James Bond: The Stealth Affair is no classic but it is the best of the 80s and early 90s Bond games. That's a back-handed compliment I know but I'm not knocking the game because it is likeable and passable for what it is. We still had some years to wait though for the first truly great James Bond game and that game would definitely not be on the Amiga.
A View To A Kill was unusual in that it was the first Roger Moore Bond film (or Bond film period) to get an official computer game in the form of a 1985 Domark game titled (you guessed it) A View To A Kill. This game must rank as one of the most disappointing gaming experiences on the Commodore 64. A game based on a Bond film! This must be good right? Wrong! A View To A Kill has three different sections which are essentially like minigames. All of these sections are tedious.
The first section in the game has you driving through Paris as Bond chasing May Day. Sounds great right? Unfortunately this must be the worst driving section of any game I have ever played. It's slow, graphically awful, and Paris consists of a series of brick walls. Half the screen in the Paris section is top down and the the top half of the screen is first perspective. The 3D scrolls with all the speed of a limping snail!
Next is City Hall where you must escape as the building is on fire. You have to get various locked doors open. This second section is as boring a the first. It's a side-on puzzle section where your have to find objects to progress and must also douse the fire with buckets of water. James Bond is depicted by a blocky stick man figure. In the third section of the game you run around Zorin's mines - basically rubbish platform action!
The poor graphics and thrown together nature of this game are inexcusable given that it is an official Bond game. The C64 was capable of smooth and fluid animations and fast scrolling (look at games like Impossible Mission and Super Cycle) so it is a shame that none of these qualities were apparent in A View To A Kill's computer game. A View To A Kill is absolutely abysmal with dreadful crude graphics and a complete lack of compulsive gameplay.
Zzap64 magazine awarded A View To A Kill's computer game just 36%. What was most disappointing about the game is that it was heavily hyped. As far as the C64 went, the games to approach with some degree of caution were the licenced games. Companies would get the rights to some popular movie or television show and inevitably the game they knocked up with said licence would be terrible. That cover art would always lure gamers in though. This was clearly the case with A View To A Kill. The box looked great but the actual game was hopeless.
After their disastrous A View To A Kill game, Domark bravely ventured back into the world of Bond games with Live and Let Die. A game based on Live and Let Die sounds sounds great right? Well, don't get your hopes up too much. For one thing this game didn't even begin life as a Bond game. It was supposed to be a boat chase game called Aquablasters and a follow-up to Buggy Boy. * Domark simply bought the game and slapped Live and Let Die on top of it. I suppose they figured that as the film Live and Let Die has a lengthy boat chase sequence, Aquablasters, with a few modifications, would make a good adapatation.
Domark's Live and Let Die is very forgettable on the whole. It's just a bog standard racing game only on water rather than a road. This is the sort of thing you would have bought if it was a budget title and then played for a few hours and completely forgot about. The most disappointing thing about the game is that it only consists of boat racing and makes no attempt to incorprate other aspects of the film. Live and Let Die is not the worst game ever made but it is very average and a fairly lazy sort of licenced game. By the way, the rendition of the 007 theme in this game is absolutely dreadful!
* Buggy Boy is an off road racing game based on a 1985 Japanese arcade machine. The player drives a buggy around a track avoiding obstacles such as brick walls, fences and rocks. There are five tracks - Offroad, which needs to be completed five times, North, a wintry track with five subtracks; East has five subtracks; West and five subtracks and South has a desert landscape with five subtracks. There is a time limit to complete the tracks. The buggy also has to drive through gates. Flags and other bonuses can be collected. Driving through a time flag gives extra time for the stage to be completed.
This is a great conversion of the arcade game and a good racer. It is very addictive. The difficulty level is about right with the later subtracks being more difficult. The animation is smooth and the graphics are fine. The controls are very responsive. There are also a variety of tracks in the game. All in all this is a fun driving game. The game is known as Speed Buggy in North America. Buggy Boy proved to be a hig hit with gamers who enjoy racing games.
The gameplay is excellent and this proves to be a fun experience on the whole. The buggy performs an impressive flip when it crashes and there are some nice touches like everything going dark when you enter a tunnel. The course designs in the game are very good and the game moves at a fast pace once you get going. The scrolling is fairly impressive too for the time. One of the interesting things about Buggy Boy is that it doesn't attempt to be a straight conversion of its arcade counterpart but rather seeks to be an interpretation. This game was great on the C64 but the Amiga version has better graphics while not losing anything as far as the gameplay goes. It's just a very simple but enjoyable game. You'd be much better off playing Buggy boy than Live and Let Die!
G.H.
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