While I have never seen it myself, apparently somebody, at some point, decided to make a cartoon version of James Bond. Yes, the master spy with an appetite for babes that would rival Duke Nukem has a TV series for kids out there. One where he is a wise-cracking teenager fighting an evil organization from within his school in England. It’s been a while since I played a James Bond game, so let’s a peek at 007’s days of youth.
The game is split up between 3 stages, each of which is dedicated to a villain from the cartoon. Each mission starts with a different 2D vehicle segment reminiscent of the home computer titles before transitioning into a series of non-linear, sidescrolling labyrinths.
The vehicle segments are simplistic in nature, but especially the first one sets a very poor first impression by being horrendously overlong and sparse on checkpoints. While Bond himself has 5 hitpoints, the vehicles go down after a single hit or touching any part of the scenery, turning these levels into an endurance round. The hitbox is overly generous in favor of the enemy, though you can tip the balance by finding weapon upgrades or the shield power-up that gives you an extra layer of defense before you lose a life.
Each vehicle type also has a unique gimmick, so the flying vehicles get bombs that take physics into account to decide the angle at which they drop, while during the boat level you defeat enemies by bumping into each other until the other guy hits a wall or obstacle. Even so, these nifty features hide otherwise bland 2D shooter segments that would be outdated on even the NES.
Once you reach the location of the level, Bond exits the vehicle and you have to control him as you navigate the stage. You got buttons to punch or kick, you can jump or use items, and select changes which item is currently active. The game’s controls are fine, but platforming is rather basic and suffers from some standard problems that should be preventable.
Your character model is very large and screen space small, which makes it difficult to react to new enemies or traps. The game loves to have you do platforming bits where you leap to the next platform, only for an enemy to become visible right after you jump. You don’t have any means of defending yourself in mid-air and enemies attack the moment they become visible. You’d have to stand at the edge of the previous platform for the enemy to become partially visible, and even then their hitboxes would sometimes not have loaded in yet.
You are very dependent on your gadgets, which mostly means the grenade and the pistol. Your punch and kick can take out some stationary enemies, but there is no flow between your attacks, so you hit them once, they hit you, and only then do you deliver the final blow. Your gadgets may be finite, but at least they can get the job done reliably and without taking damage yourself, optimally.
The non-linear nature of the game’s design is quite fun. levels aren’t so big that you can get truly lost and pick-ups are all quite useful, so it doesn’t feel like a waste of time to explore side-paths. There are secret areas to find and levels tend to have some novel challenges, like the sewers in Italy where you use freeze bombs to temporarily turn pools of water into icy paths. The levels have the right length to feel significant without being too long and checkpoints occur frequently enough to hold back any tedium.
Sadly, the bosses don’t work out as well. They are very tricky and aggressive to deal with at first, but become hilariously easy when you figure them out. They can all be effortlessly dealt with by trapping them into a loop or finding a safespot from which to attack, after which it’s just a matter of patience.
If you have fond memories of the cartoon, then you may be able to overlook the game’s shortcomings and relive some comedic childhood memories. The game has some ideas to make itself an interesting platformer, so it’s not just a boring tie-in game. However, it also has some glaring issues, most prominently how much the vehicle segments drag on and how fighting enemies is kind of a nuisance. It’s definitely not as solid as comparable games on the Super Nintendo, so if you have no affection for the source material, it’s unlikely to interest a general audience.