The idea of gaming remaining it’s own insular platform is something which many gamers probably wish was a reality however gaming seems to have gone through stages of being bastardised by studios just wanting to make a quick buck or two off a pre-established film franchise and by doing so they sweat out another turd of a licensed game which not only disappoints fans of the original film but it utterly destroys those who are stupid enough to be swindled into buying these titles. Thankfully some franchises have been left to graze in the paddocks of solitude where they remain untouched or others have been dragged to purgatory only to make it out the other side with the kind helpful hand of a production studio who actually gave half a shit about the user experience. So in this new series I’ll be taking a look at some of the most disgraceful pieces of cartridge, disc or DLC to see where it all went horribly wrong.
There is nothing more inherently British than Bond..James Bond, the uber suave, quick witted and misogynistic lady killer has been a staple of pop culture and in the process has been solidified into the history books due to the talented writing and characterisation by none other than Ian Fleming an accomplished military officer, journalist and writer. Although many would like to think the phenomena which surrounds the character is mostly attributed to the character from the novels, the majority of those who know and love 007 can safely say their original interest was more than likely sparked by the even more well known and popular films with legendary performances from actors such as Connery, Moore or even more modern interpretations like Brosnan (Yes I intentionally left out Daniel Craig.. When the fuck did Bond ever drink Heineken). The Bond film series allowed the brilliant and bombastic nature of the novels to finally be visualised and given the translation to screen it so desperately deserved and not surprising at all it has spanned through for decades with new films coming out frequently.
Although not all the films were perfect and I assure you there were many bad apples in the fruit bowl, the series itself had a stylistic approach that was easily recognisable, familiar and also was reasonably faithful to all the associated material. However the Bond universe in the gaming world took some pretty terrible nose dives and in some cases were so bad you could almost say the studios had a license to kill.
James Bond Jr – NES (1991)
Nothing screams desperation more than releasing a game which chronicles the adventures of Bond’s nephew, but seriously who in their right mind decided this was something that needed to be done. Now it would be disingenuous of me to fail to mention that James Bond Jr as a character did feature in a novel written by an author who remained anonymous until his passing and maybe this is due to the fact he knew how messed up this was as a concept. The game is however more of an adaptation of the animated 90s cartoon series which is equally as bizarre yet was wildly popular during it’s screening and spawned 65 episodes. The game itself isn’t necessarily bad which may seem like a bizarre reason to mention this amongst the other titles to follow but I feel like this was the epitome of cash grabs with the lack of new bond films and the powers at be feeling like they needed to monetise the license, it seems like James Bond Jr was simply a filler for what was to come.
007 Racing – PS1 (2001):
Another great way to squeeze out your license and franchises for everything it’s worth is to produce a vehicle based game with stolen models, skin it over with your branding and release it to the world and 007 racing definitely ticks all these boxes. I remember my brother owning this as a pre-teen and he was a massive Bond fan, not because of the storylines, characters or locations just merely the cars which makes a hell of a lot of sense as to why this was floating around in our collection. This game is horrendously clunky with hilariously unresponsive controls, terrible textures that look super outdated with barely any effort put into it and the title of the game being a complete lie as well because there are literally no racing elements in the game weirdly enough. Although I have fond memories of playing this game with my brother with that in mind this still didn’t save this utterly terrible game, it was far too short for its own good and the replay-ability was minimal which is a shame because the concept could’ve been so much more
Tomorrow Never Dies – PS1 (1999):
Oh the memories with this game, it was another title that when I was younger I was obsessed with however on closer inspection and without the nostalgia glasses on I’ve come to realise there were many glaringly obvious problems with this game but irregardless I still had a blast, it should be noted that it was mostly because of my vivid memory of my brother and I are slamming as many cheat codes as we could into the game and strutting around like gods once we had unlimited health, ammo and whatever else we could throw at it. Tomorrow Never Dies suffered from range of problems such as the usual case with bad games extremely poor controls, it had an excruciatingly annoying problem in regards to viewpoints and angles but also it failed to include a multiplayer mode which meant this was a very short lived affair with the spy.
Quantum of Solace – Windows, Nintendo DS, PS2, PS3, Wii & Xbox 360 (2008)
There is not really much to say about this game and it’s a bit of a shame because modern Bond games have been far from breathtaking. Borrowing the Call of Duty 4 engine with a 007 spin attached, this title is the epitome of licensed games and it definitely shows with very little to establish its own mechanics or unique systems Quantum of Solace is an all round disappointing affair with Her Royal Majesty’s finest. The presentation is also rather strange considering the majority of the game is set within the events of the first Daniel Craig film Casino Royale rather than Quantum of Solace which begs the question was this game solely released due to the fact there was a failed attempt at releasing an earlier title so they decided to tack on a couple more levels and coincide the release with the new film.. well who knows. Now there isn’t much more critiques that can be made because the game as a whole works but it just feels far too familiar for its own good, imagine COD 4 with Gears of Wars cover system and you have Quantum of Solace.