Confusing licenses are the bread and butter of obscure games. Very few companies in the early days of gaming actually tried to tackle non-arcade licenses, with only 20th Century Fox, Atari, and Parker Brothers doing it in any quantity. The names these companies took just boggles the mind, box office bombs like Mega Force and Krull, movies that have been out of the public eye for years like Fantastic Voyage and Planet of the Apes, and comic book characters like Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk were all made into video games, though many were abandoned. By far my favorite weird license goes to Parker Brothers and their release of James Bond: 007 for the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 as well as the Colecovision and Commodore 64. Instead of focusing the game on the most recent movie, Octopussy, which may or may not have been released to theaters by this time, Parker Brother decided in their infinite wisdom to cram scenes from four different bond movies into this one game. The four Bond movies in question are Diamonds are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, and Moonraker, even though the 2600 port had to omit FYEO. Well let’s just get on with it, I’m going to focus on the 5200 port, because it’s the only one I own, but I will reference the 2600 port when I can.
Well, the graphics aren’t anything all that special, even for the 5200. James Bond is a very visually bland game, with much of it consisting of various shades of brown to indicate the ground and blue for water. The game starts with an attempt at a cutscene showing Bond getting into his car and driving off except everything about it is dreadful. Bond is three times as tall as the car, and when he magically squeezes into it the thing shrinks down to the size of a postage stamp and trundles off. The car looks like a banana with racing stripes and everything else you encounter doesn’t look much better, especially the garbles mess that is supposed to be a laser firing orbital satellite. There are blue blobs in the sky and men the size of oil rigs under the water, also, this game is a total seizure inducer. When you get to the ocean stages the projectiles you drop make the bottom half of the screen flash myriad different colors, and when you hit a giant floating blob the sky flashes crazy colors. At points in the game the entire screen will be flashing apart from the ground and the player/enemy sprites, it’s a total eye sore. If you ask me the 2600 port is far more colorful and easier on the eyes, even if it isn’t as graphically complex it still is more interesting to look at.
The sounds are alright, there’s a decent rendition of the Bond theme but there is very little to talk about otherwise. All the rest of the sounds are various shooting and explosion noises, which on their own are pretty good, the problem is when playing the game normally you’ll hear the sounds so many times that they bleed into one and become very, very, obnoxious as this game is a total button masher.
James Bond: 007 is a horizontal shooter where you must avoid and shoot your way through scenes of several Bond classics, though you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t read the manual. All the game boils down to is moving left to right and not really being able to hit anything because the shooting is terrible. In the first scene you must avoid laser firing orbital satellites and the worst potholes in human history, once you get past that part you enter the ocean stage where you avoid shots from enormous frogmen and more laser platforms. The end of the ocean stage us usually where most people’s playthorugh ends, in order to get to the next scene you must make the most pixel perfect bullshit jump in the history of gaming whilst autoscrolling screws with your positioning. You must jump over an entire oil drilling platform to land on an unmarked helipad on the far end of it only after illuminating it by shooting a diamond in the sky otherwise you hit the thing and lose a life. To make your life more difficult you also have little to no control as to where you are shooting as your shots go at an angle and all of your targets are moving. Also in an incredible waste of the 5200 controller, both the depth charges and normal shots are mapped to the same button so in order to fire on a diamond twice you have to press the button three times and light the ocean up in a seizure inducing display of colors. Why not map the depth charges to the second action button that doesn’t get used in the entire game? WHY? Alright so let’s say that by some miracle you land that jump, what happens next? Well you just do the same thing over again with differently behaving enemies and a slightly different ending, and as far as I can tell the other two scenes are the exact same things as that except with even more different enemies. The game has no variation as to what you actually do, which is move to the right and mash the fire button and occasionally dodge an enemy.
I played this game on novice difficulty on an emulator for a good 30-45 minutes and despite knowing exactly how to play the game I got past the oil rig once, and as far as I could tell everything looked, sounded, and played exactly the same. This game has no variety, is unfairly difficult with how to beat it, and is just no fun after a few minutes. Playing on the 5200 with that controller is even worse as hand cramp set in after a few seconds of play, good god what an abysmal heap of garbage. Unfortunately this is one of Parker Brother’s final games, making it rare and somewhat sought after, here’s a bullet list of the game values on the various systems it was released on, and even though I don’t really need to say it, this game goes to the Collector’s Zone.
· Loose with manual: 45-60$
· Sold loose for: 18-23$
· Loose: 15$, sold listings reflect current values
· CIB: 40$
· Loose: 20-32$
· CIB sold for 40+
· Cartridge + Manual: 40+