Tuesday, 14 August 2012

007 Games Part 2: The Living Daylights, Live and Let Die

Super AiG's Guide to Every (old) James Bond Game Ever, Volume 2
Living and Let Daylights cassette coverLiving and Let Daylights cassette cover
Sadly not a real thing that actually exists.
James Bond week continues! In part one I took a brief look at the first four years of Bond games, from James Bond 007 on the Atari 2600 to Goldfinger on PC. I can't say any of them really impressed me, but hopefully that just means I've gotten past the worst of them now.

Game 5 - The Living Daylights (1987)
Formats: Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-Bit, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum.

Commodore 64
Fortunately before anyone could get any ideas about adapting Thunderball, a new Bond movie hit cinemas and another tie-in game was needed. And so gamers were saved from having to punch frogmen underwater in slow motion, at least in a Bond game.

That's a pretty competent title screen for a C64 game I reckon, though it's a bit lifeless. It could use a little more a little more drama, a little more... emotion.

BBC Micro
There we go.

At least it confirms we're playing as Timothy Dalton this time, in case there was any doubt. And if it turns out to have co-op, player two will be playing as a demon straight out of a Japanese horror movie.

Commodore 64
Okay this seems to be a shooting gallery type of game where enemies pop up in the background and I have to shoot them before they get a chance to shoot me. This is just a training mission in Gibraltar though and we're using paint guns, so I guess the health meter is more like a humiliation meter.

I've been shooting these people for a while now though, and nothing seems to be happening. I'm starting to get the feeling I'm doing something wrong.

Amstrad CPC
I accidentally pulled the cursor to the right hand edge of the screen, and Bond start walking forward.

This seemed like a good thing, and I was very happy about this turn of events until he suddenly tripped over for no reason (as demonstrated here by his Amstrad doppelgänger), giving the people in the background a chance to pop up and get a couple of free shots in. Apparently I still haven't got the hang of this 'walking' thing.

Atari 8-Bit
Turns out that he was just tripping over the rocks in his path. You know what secret agents are like; so focused on observing their surroundings and thinking through all possible scenarios that they often repeatedly walk into rocks.

Eventually I figured out if I press up while he's walking he'll do a little jump over them, and then I can carry on with the walking. This has actually been a pretty useful training exercise so far, I've learned a lot.

Eventually the screen stopped scrolling, and a man in black appeared on the rocks and started kicking my ass. Fortunately I've seen the movie, so I knew this guy needed some proper killing, and eventually figured out how to switch from my paint gun to the Walther PPK.

It's just a shame he's so damn hard to see in some versions. By the time I've realised where he is and started dragging the cursor his way, he's already moved.

ZX Spectrum
I mean look at this. You've had a chance to see what the guy looks like on the previous screenshot, so now try to find him on this one. He is there, I promise you.

Click here to see the answer.

If you got it right, then congratulations! But he's already shot you and moved somewhere else, sorry.

Atari 8-Bit
Well that's cruel, showing off a car on the weapon select screen which I'll probably never get to drive.

Hmm, what weapon should I get to replace my paint gun? I suppose it doesn't matter because I'll never take the time to swap them over in the middle of a shootout.

Atari 8-Bit
On this level I've picked up a sidekick, and we're escaping from the evil silhouettes.

I know I'm being vague, but it's not that I haven't been paying attention, they just haven't explained a single thing that's going on. 'Choose a weapon' was the closest the game's come so far to having a complete sentence.

Commodore 64
See that perfectly harmless looking grate in the middle of the road on the right? They're the rocks of this level. I started this level off with almost zero health after the duel against the assassin, walked into a grate two seconds after appearing, and immediately got Bond killed.

Oh and see that enemy silhouette in the window? Probably an innocent bystander. The easy way to tell the difference is to stand in the street like an idiot and wait to see which one shoots you. Or you can just run to the exit and ignore them all.

Commodore 64
Awesome, I get a new selection of weapons for level three. Wow, I get to bring cigarettes, shame it doesn't tell me what they do. For all I know they're literally just cigarettes.

Commodore 64
Damn, things have gotten serious on this level. Steam jets and pipes all over the floor. I'm not optimistic about my chances, especially as I threw all my lives away on the last two levels.

Atari 8-Bit
Well that's just stupid. I don't have a clue which parts I'm supposed to be jumping over. Not that it matters, as poor Atari Bond has zero lives and next to no health too. And soon it was over. There were no passwords, there were no continues.

I doubt this game was ever considered good, and age has stolen whatever appeal it did have. My professional opinion, as someone who played it for a couple of minutes and got three levels in, is it's a bit rubbish.

Game 6 - Live and Let Die (1988)
Formats: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.

Atari ST
Finally the 16-bit systems have started to turn up! It'll be a while before the SNES and Genesis/Mega Drive get to join in though, so it's just the computers for now.

There was no Bond film this year, so they based this game on one made 15 years earlier instead. All I remember about the Live and Let Die movie though is the Paul McCartney theme tune, and it's not even in the game. Though you know this music it does have isn't actually bad.

Commodore 64
A level select! Shame there's only four levels here, and three of them are training. Though maybe I'll unlock more actual story levels by finishing the mission level.

I'll think I'll go with the practice course first, taking place in sunny England. Hopefully an assassin won't try to shoot me this time.


Commodore 64
Nice of MI6 to go to all the trouble of dressing this English river up to look like the mission area. Must have taken them ages to put all those palm trees around.

Right, it turns out that I'm in a boat and I've got to race down this river dodging rocks and shooting targets.
Except the black targets can only be destroyed with a missile, and I don't have much time to tell them apart when I'm going flat out. By the time I've realised my guns aren't going to blow up the metal bullseye I'm pointed directly at, I'm a half second from colliding, and any collision is an instant kill.

Though I just respawn again straight afterwards. I don't even seem to have limited lives.

Huh, that's weird. I never had fuel problems on the C64 version of this level. I don't remember seeing any obvious way to refuel either.

Anyway I've learned the difference between red and black circles, so it's time to take this training to the next level. We're going to the Arctic.


This level's full of racing down tunnels, and dodging mines and logs and other things that have no buisiness being at the North Pole.

Still, it could be worse, I could be playing on the Commodore 64 version.

Commodore 64
I can't see a damn thing in this tunnel! Is that a boat coming up ahead of me? Should I be shooting? I think I should be shooting.

Can't go wrong with shooting. Well, unless I accidentally hit a fuel barrel, then I'm screwed. It turns out that the C64 game does have limited fuel, just not on the practice course. And the stuff runs out fast.

Agh, you bastard plane! I swerved left to dodge the bullets cutting through the water, and totally missed picking up that fuel barrel.

I'm starting to think that the fuel gauge is actually more like a timer, and fuel barrels are time bonuses. Getting my boat blown up slows me down, which means I've got less time to make it to the next barrel.

Well, I totally fucked that level up, but I think I'm ready for my actual assignment. Well, I mean I'm ready to stop playing these bloody training levels.


Amstrad CPC
Shockingly, the actual mission is a lot like the training levels. 

The Amstrad CPC version of the is as fast and slick as any of them, but it's got a bit of a problem in that the barrels are red, and the boats are red, and the logs are red, and at at distance they all look the same. I keep shooting up my fuel and trying to collect enemies.

You think you're safe up there in that helicopter? Just wait until I find another floating log to drive up, I'll ram my boat right down your throat!

Uh, actually I think this guy might be on my side, as it seems he's dropped a package for me. Which I missed because I was busy jumping off logs. Damn, that thing probably had fuel in too.

Atari ST
Oh, so THAT'S what the sloping wall on the left is for. You use it to swerve around the rocks, so that you don't blow up, lose time, and run out of fuel. Again.

It seems I'm not quite ready yet for the dangerous life of a secret agent. Time for more practice I reckon.


Oh that's funny, it turns out yellow fuel barrels are just like black fuel barrels, except when you touch them they blow you up and make you waste time. And don't give you any fuel.

At first I assumed it was ridiculous to have a boat level set in the Sahara Desert, complete with pyramids. But apparently you can actually see pyramids from the Nile, so what do I know?

ZX Spectrum
The poor outdated ZX Spectrum actually has more detail on screen in its version than in the 16-bit versions, which has the side effect of making it run in slow motion. Plus they decided to threw in boats that drive by and fill the screen with mines as well. You might be surprised to learn that this doesn't make it any more fun.

Oh, and I ran out of fuel and failed this level too.

So yeah, Live and Let Die isn't really much of a Bond game. In fact it apparently started life as a game called Aquablast, and they threw the Bond license on afterwards to sell more copies. Which kind of explains why most of the game doesn't even take place in the US. They could have at least called it 'James Bond: Speedboat Training' so people knew what they were getting into.

James Bond will return in tomorrow's exciting instalment of... my list of James Bond games that I am playing.

Read part three.
Go back to part one.

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