Forget an exploding pen: you only needed a few spare batteries to enjoy this forgotten gem from the beginning of the handheld era. Goldeneye may be the most memorable ’90s release for the super spy, but James Bond 007 on Game Boy has gone to places no Bond game has ventured since.
Developed by Sapphire Corporation and released in 1998, a year after Goldeneye 64 took the first-person shooter genre by storm, the Game Boys version of the James Bond franchise was one of the most ambitious versions of the character we’ve seen so far.
Top-down Zelda gameplay meets pun-laden super spy antics? You bet. The fact that so few remember it sounds like a plot that only Blofield himself could organize.
A sight to a thrill
If possible, think back to the licensed 8-bit and 16-bit games of the 1990s. While Marvels Spider-Man 2 and Jedi: Fallen Order are now big budget and hugely ambitious versions of existing franchises, the potential was much smaller in the 90s. Type a recognizable character and logo on the box, roughly approximate said character from a handful of pixels, create a side-scrolling platformer – a job well done. This describes the vast majority of links at the time.
Sapphire Corporation, based in American Fork, Utah, had other ideas, however. Working on the strengths of the platform he was grappling with, James Bond 007 was more of a Zelda-type top-down adventure where exploration and collecting clues was as important as accurate shots and punches. . Like in Link’s Awakening, you can map items to Buttons A and B as you see fit, exploring locations for secrets and puzzle solutions, as well as battling mobs of minions.
Traveling from China to Blighty, from Marrakech to Russia in globetrotting Bond style, it might not present Zeldas’ unlockable secrets, but its level-based design is definitely inspired by the mascot with Nintendo pointy ears. There are plenty of puzzles on offer here, whether it was rummaging through houses for tools to fix a pivot bridge, or turning off the lights to pass a particularly vigilant guard, there was plenty of. clever ideas that went beyond the usual, brainless, ‘allowed stuff to kill.
Telling an original, albeit light, story of “saving the world” also played out a bit like James Bond’s greatest hits. You’ll meet MI6 boss M, trade punches with Oddjob and Jaws, and even woo a “Bond girl”. It really was Bond’s Roger Moore games, with its cheeky asides, ridiculous situations, and ironic demeanor, for better or for worse.
And while the family nature of the Nintendo handheld has never really been violated other than the shootings, it’s very clear that old James’ Thunderballs Bond is participating in the services provided by a brothel in order to steal a diamond. .
The best part, however, is the way it captures all of the other things Bond does. The games focus on getting Bond to kill follies through secret bases or bomb sports cars in pursuit of a dastardly villain. But they never let you chat with Q or flirt with Moneypenny. They rarely let you outsmart the bad guy, or let you relax and go to the casino. He may have been visually limited, but the breadth of his ambition was limited only by modest material limitations.
What’s next for Bond in the game?
The universe of Bond is in flux right now, making it uncertain what shape 007’s next game release will take.
For starters, Daniel Craig’s blunt portrayal of spy Ian Flemings has now been put to bed, with Craig handing over his license to kill. The search is now underway for a new Bond and, presumably, a new direction in which to take the well-worn franchise.
In addition, the rights to the James Bond universe have recently changed hands. Amazon has sought to bolster its Amazon Prime Video offering with the purchase of the Bond property via a massive $ 8.54 billion deal for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, also known as MGM. (Incidentally, the purchase also cedes the rights to the Rocky films of Sylvester Stallones. Bond vs Balboa, any way?). Who knows how Amazon plans to use the franchise across its many platforms and services, but its burgeoning gaming ambitions will surely see Bond play a role.
For now, however, the franchise is in the capable hands of IO Interactive, the creators of the Spy-worthy Hitman series. His “Project 007” will be an entirely original story set in the world of Bond, likely featuring some of the stealth mechanics that made the Hitman games so enjoyable to play.
But here’s hoping they take a little inspiration from the exploratory and narrative heart of James Bond 007 for Game Boy.