Wednesday, 15 August 2012

007 Games Part 3: Licence to Kill, The Spy Who Loved Me

Super AiG's Guide to Every (old) James Bond Game Ever, Volume 3
Aka. "To Kill Who Licenced the Spy Love"
James Bond week, day three. I'm seven years into the first decade of Bond games, and it's starting to become clear that the series was one of the true pioneers of the 'terrible movie tie-in' genre. Maybe GoldenEye actually was the first good Bond game. I kind of hope not as I've still got four days worth of these things to go, starting with...

Game 7 - Licence to Kill (1989)
Formats: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX, ZX Spectrum. Damn, it'd be quicker to list the systems it didn't come out on.

Licence to Kill Amiga title screen
Licence to Kill came out the same year as its movie, and was released on basically every game system with a keyboard it seems. Again the game consoles were left to to sit this one out, but they'll soon have their revenge.

Gotta love games that put the title on the in-game HUD, just in case the player's forgotten what it is To be fair it's the only clue I've got that this is actually Bond I'm playing as, as they didn't bother with giving me an intro or any kind of context to explain what I'm doing.

I immediately started off flying a helicopter for whatever reason, and I'm apparently chasing/shooting this jeep. It's kind of hard to stay close while it's shooting back at me though.

This did actually happen in the movie by the way, but the entire chase was over in about 12 seconds, and Bond spent most of that time looking for a good place to jump out.

Uh, what the fuck? Did I just crash into the telephone pole or something?

I tried it a few more times, and you know I think I actually crashed into that fence. It seems (and I could be wrong about this) as I go further up screen, my helicopter gets closer to the ground and can crash into objects. I guess they don't want me going too fast.

Well that time I got destroyed in a good old fashioned crossfire. My chopper can take a fair number of hits, but these people are firing an unfair number of bullets my way. I'm not even sure who's firing at me. I mean this can't all be coming from the jeep, but I'm not seeing anyone else around.

Suspect #1
Suspect #2Suspect #3
Is there someone hiding in the huts? Perhaps there's an invisible assassin stalking me from the trees. Are the bullets coming from this dead guy floating in a tank of water? Who the fuck keeps shooting at me?

And every time I lose a life, this flashes up on screen. As if to remind me that I'm supposed to be playing as an ultra-competent secret agent, and so I should really stop flying into fences and getting him killed.

Oh come on, I was staying back that time! Surely that should have given me enough altitude to clear a roof. Though I just realised that I didn't instantly lose when I let the jeep get away. Interesting...

I think I've figured this out. If I let the jeep drive off at the start I'm free to crawl through the level as slow as I like, with my attention focused on taking out the gun turrets (it turns out that the shooters are hiding in the sheds).

The jeep just parks at the top of the level anyway, so there was never any need to chase it. Well, it looks like I'm gonna have to jump, I guess.

LEVEL COMPLETED! And it only took me quarter of an hour.

Okay now I'm on foot and... shooting a floating pane of glass? Oh I see, this is my aiming reticle. I have to hold down the fire button and pull left and right to move the reticle and change my direction of fire. It's about as awkward as it sounds.

It's like Cannon Fodder, except there's no mouse control so I have to stop and carefully rotate my spy every time I want him to turn. I mean I can run around to my heart's content, I don't have to drive him around like a tank, but if I want to put bullets into someone I'll have to get the gun pointed their way.

I can't move while I'm holding down the aim button, but if I let go Bond stays locked at the same angle until I point him in a new direction. So I'll fine tune my aim behind this wall where I'm safe, then pop out and send a few bullets diagonally across the screen to that guy on the top right.

They all die in one hit, but I tend to waste a lot of shots while I trying to get myself lined up with the target. Fortunately they sometimes drop extra magazines or else I'd be in trouble.

Oh for fuck's sake, there's got to be enough of a gap there to get a bullet through. I really don't want to run up there and try to shoot him from the side. That'll just make him run off to find new cover, while leaving me standing in the open. I know it's all very impressive that they do run off to find cover, but anything that forces me to adjust my aim is a pain in the ass.

I actually managed to get him through the gap in the end. Then I took a couple of steps up the path and got shot by his friend. Bond can only take a handful of hits before he's killed, and I haven't seen any medikits lying around. And every time he's killed I'm put right back at the start of the stage.

There's no continues and no passwords, but that's fine as I've got no more patience left for the game anyway.

Game 8 - The Spy Who Loved Me (1990)
Formats: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum.

The Spy Who Loved Me Commodore 64 title screen
Commodore 64
This is the last stand for the noble 8-bit machines, but they had a good run. It was also the last Bond action game released for 16-bit computers, and the last to star Roger Moore's incarnation of 007. Not that you'd be able to tell from that title screen..

The Bond movie franchise had gone into a six year hibernation after Licence to Kill, so they decided to base this on 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me instead. Poor George Lazenby never gets a video game.

Atari ST
This will be totally lost on people who never owned a VCR.

Gunbarrel scene is present and accounted for. Most versions play a funky remix of the Bond theme here, but the theme music for the Amiga version is... well, it's different. Here, have a youtube link. I think you'd better listen for yourself.

Whoa, I actually get a story this time? It's not much, but it's nice to have some actual context to what I'm doing. They're not just assuming I've seen the movie, or worse, that I've read the manual.

Right, my mission is to drive to the hotel. And that's it, no assassins after me, or suspects to chase, just a nice drive through the countryside in my custom Lotus Esprit.

I don't know what those spinning collectables are, but they've got a Q on and they're all over the road. I suppose I'd better pick them up before some kid gets hold of one and it turns out to be an electromagnetic... taser... dart launcher... thing.

 Damn, there were two people just wandering around in the middle of the street and I accidentally clipped one of them. -50 points.

ZX Spectrum
Don't worry I got both of them on the Spectrum version.

Also holy shit, I think I've found the yellowest game ever made. I thought the DOS version of Licence to Kill was yellow, but it's got nothing on this. It's like I'm driving on the surface of the sun.

Atari ST
Whoa, what the fuck? I totally lost control and went flying into a building. Instant kill, and I'm put back to the very start of the level. I think it must have been an oil slick.

At least it let me keep all the Q points I'd picked up, and even sprinkled some new ones on the street for me to grab

Commodore 64
 Well, that's it, I've ran out of road.

Atari ST
Time to switch to my boat I think. You can tell it's my boat, as Q branch have helpfully written my name on the dashboard (again, Q pulled this shit in Live and Let Die as well). I thought I was supposed to be a secret agent.

Hey assholes, get out of the water! Why are these people always in my way?

Atari ST
Finally I've got someone to use my missiles against! Or does that say 'nissile'? Either way I've got a finite supply of them, and it takes five direct hits to kill an enemy boat.

Though the villains seem pretty useless, so I could just ignore the guy I guess.

Atari ST
Son of a bitch! I hate it when games pull this shit. There's no way I could have seen this coming, and I can't find a way to reverse out of it. All I can do is deliberately sacrifice my boat to the pier and start again from the start of the water section.

Well okay technically I should be able to see things coming with the map on the left side of the screen, but that isn't in every version of the game, and I'm pretty sure it's inaccurate. I mean, can you find this dead end on it?

Atari ST
The bad news is I'm out of missiles. The good news is, it doesn't seem to matter much with these guys. If they get on my nerves I can just ram them into a parked boat. It's okay to destroy people's property when you're saving the world.


Atari ST
Fuck yeah, I reached stage two! To celebrate I'm going to do a corkscrew jump off this ramp, Man with the Golden Gun style!

Atari ST
Well it worked in the movie.


I nearly had myself lined up with the Q truck, but then I hit an another oil slick and went flying. These puddles of oil are easily the most deadly obstacle in the game so far. Though that guy in the blue car with the missile launcher isn't helping.

Right, I'm (finally) inside the Q mobile. Time to grin like an idiot and pose while Soviet agent Anya Amasova lounges in the Lotus.. Well now I know what the Q points are for; the guy's selling upgrades for my car. I couldn't afford the sub capability, so I bought armour and weapons, and then immediately crashed into the nearest oil slick and wasted it all.

And then the game over music is 'Nobody Does it Better', played over the high score list of all the people that did it better. Unless you're playing the Amiga version, then it's that theme tune again.

I've heard this described as a crappy rush job Spy Hunter rip off, and I can't really argue with that. Mostly because I don't remember ever playing Spy Hunter, so I wouldn't have a clue. I can say that I actually enjoyed it more than most of the other Bond games so far, so I guess if you're going to give this a go, you could try playing 8 years worth of shitty 007 movie tie-ins first so it seems better by comparison.

Next time, a Bond point and click adventure game.

Read part four.
Back to part two.


  1. The submarine levels in The Spy Who Loved Me were actually pretty good. (Unfortunately getting to them was an absolute chore...)

    1. Yeah, that's the trouble with a lot of movie tie-ins I've noticed. They like to mix up the gameplay between levels instead of picking a genre and doing it well. Then if they somehow manage to make one of the stages stand out, you've got to work through the crap to get to it.

      Or get stuck, give up, and look it up on youtube in my case.


Semi-Random Game Box