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James Bond 007

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Released: 1997

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Game Boy

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Saffire

Submitted by: Hereward Proops

1997 was a good year for 007 fans. Not only did the N64 play host to Rare's incredible Goldeneye but Gameboy owners were treated to a lesser-known but equally enjoyable little game, James Bond 007. Mercifully, developers Saffire chose not to try and emulate the N64 classic shooter on the modest Gameboy hardware. Instead gamers were presented with a wholly new game with more in common with The Legend of Zelda than any other Bond video game outings.

Oddly enough, the adventure game format seems perfectly suited to Bond's globe-trotting adventures. Players control the titular secret agent as he scours the various levels for different items. Some of these items can aid him in his quest whilst others can be traded with locals for something more useful. Case in point – the sprawling black market level in Marrakech. Bond buys a cooked chicken from one of the vendors, uses it to acquire a cat which is then given to a trader whose stall is overrun by rats. And so on and so forth. The game isn't all problem-solving, what makes it stand out as a title is the amount of variety to the gameplay. A good portion of the game involves combat. Whether hand-to-hand or using longer range guns and grenades, the game provides enough action to keep the button mashers happy. There's even a casino section where Bond can play minigames of Blackjack, Red Dog or Baccarat.

The game is populated with characters from the Bond franchise. Players will have the opportunity to flirt with Miss Moneypenny, receive a mission briefing from M and even pay a visit to Q's laboratory where they can pick up gadgets to aid their quest. Memorable henchmen such as Jaws and Oddjob make an appearance, as do Bond's pithy quips when he dispatches his foes.

Graphically, the game isn't much to shout about and the sound effects are similarly basic. The music tries to match the various different settings but as with so many Gameboy games, it quickly becomes irritating. Even though the classic Bond theme is part of the soundtrack, most players will opt to play this one with the volume down.

On the positive side, the game's controls are simplistic but incredibly effective. An inventory can be opened by pressing select and from there players can assign items to the A and B buttons. For hand-to-hand fighting, players might assign punch to A and block to B. For longer range they might wish to equip a bullet proof vest and an assault rifle instead. The mix and match controls give the game variety as well as a lot of scope for customisation. For a Gameboy title, the game is a pretty lengthy experience. Completing the game will take most players between 6 and 8 hours and the battery back-up enables armchair agents to take a break whenever they need to.

There's no doubt that Goldeneye was a better game as it was so groundbreaking, opening the floodgates for first person shooters on consoles. However, James Bond 007 should not be overlooked as it has many merits. A great adventure and a must for James Bond fans, the game tries something different with the franchise and remains one of the Gameboy's finest titles.