Gaming Flashback: James Bond 007: The Duel
Growing up, I was always more of a Sega kid than a Nintendo guy. I loved Sonic more than Mario and even though we had a Super Nintendo, I always came back to the Genesis more than my SNES. Despite this, I completely missed out on James Bond 007: The Duel when I was a kid , likely due to the fact I didn't really care about Bond when I was young, at least not until around the time that GoldenEye was released on the Nintendo 64. Looking back as an adult, it is easy to see that many of the James Bond games are cash grabs that are meant to rob us of our hard earned money. But that certainly can't mean that every James Bond title outside of GoldenEye is terrible, can it?
Normally, this is where I would tell you about the game's story, but The Duel doesn't offer any account of a story being told. As such, there isn't much I can tell you outside of the fact that its not based on any of the Bond films. The games simply begins with Bond using his jet pack to drop onto a boat near an island and that's it. No fanfare. No explanation. Bond is just there and I guess we'll just have to accept that.
At the onset of the game, we're treated to a surprisingly good rendition of the Bond theme before reaching the title screen where a pixelated Timothy Dalton waits patiently. His prime objective? To give you nightmares for the foreseeable future. This leads right into a shot of the island, which zooms in on a boat and says 'Mission 1' before starting the first stage.
Controls are pretty straight forward. The directional pad moves Bond, "A" jumps, "B" shoots, and "C" uses grenades. The game is easy to pick up and play, but once you get started it's easy to notice the game's short comings. After hearing the Bond theme at the beginning and seeing the in game graphics, I let my hopes get up a little.
Missions involve taking down enemies and guiding Bond as he rescues a set amount of hostages all women of course because Bond. This may sound easy, but thanks to the enemies being able to react much quicker than Bond, it quickly becomes an exercise in frustration. Climbing a ladder with an enemy at the top will almost always end with you taking a hit.
The amount of damage Bond takes from various hazards is completely unrealistic. Being shot from a gun costs you one heart, but falling from too high of a ledge results in instant death. Even more bizarre, in the first stage, I had a submarine dropped on Bond's head, which did no damage at all. I can't count the number of times that I would climb a ladder, and because the enemies can react faster than Bond, I would take a hit an fall to my death. Things like this scream bad game design and it has me questioning the amount of QA testing this game received prior to its release.
In a surprising turn however, the game's presentation is actually the high point of the package. Aside from the aforementioned horrifying image of Timothy Dalton, the game's sprite work is very well done. Colors are vibrant and have a wonderful pop to them and I am especially fond of the Bond's animation when he dies in water. The sound design, on the other hand, is a mixed bag.
The opening rendition of the Bond theme sounds great for an early 90s, western developed Genesis title, but once you get into the game some of the music is grating. The presentation is pretty good all things considered, and is certainly the high point of the game.
James Bond 007: The Duel is a broken action game from the Genesis that I can't easily recommend. Poor enemy placement lends itself to frustrating gameplay, and inconsistent, and downright baffling damage output from enemies make it that much worse. The Duel is a game I simply can't recommend to anyone. It may have been the last appearance of Timothy Dalton as Bond, but it's better left on the shelf than in your Genesis. Sadly we're 0-2 on Bond games for this month, but hopefully things will pick up next week as we look at he first of the two Nintendo published Bond games, James Bond 007 for the Game Boy.