Clever Mr Bond, but not quite clever enough.
Passport to Death: £8.99 cass, £14.99 disk
Author: Byron Nilsson, graphics by Peter Tattersall, music by Mark Cookson
After two distinctly substandard Bond games A View To A Kill - 76%, Issue 18 - and The Living Daylights - 63%, Issue 43) Domark has turned to Elite for this one. Apparently Elite were working on a speedboat game the film features a massive speedboat chase - and in an unprecedented link-up Domark arranged for the Aquablast program to be converted for their licence.
The 1973 film's plot concerns a voodoo island where the evil Dr Kanaga is producing heroin and shipping it to the USA. Since the Dr's drug-processing factories need a large water supply they've been built on a waterway. The game begins with Bond trying to infiltrate them by piloting his Q-customised speedboat down the river. Opposing him are enemy boats, mines and floating logs. To prepare for a variety of these seaborne missions you can also select a training option - set in the Sahara desert!
Bond's speedboat consumes a lot of fuel, and if it runs out the game's over. Luckily, friendly' helicopters pass overhead from time to time, dropping barrels of fuel which replenish your tanks. Hazards can either be shot with machine guns, missiles (essential for some objects), avoided or jumped over by ramming into a log, Buggy Boy-style. Indeed, Live And Let Die resembles a cross between Roadblasters and Buggy Boy, but with the novelty of being set on water. Unfortunately it's just that bit too slow to be genuinely eyebrow-raising. The best 007 game so far, though, and fairly addictive.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: effective, although fairly slow 3-D scrolling waterway
Sound: irritating tune on the front end, plus a few aquatic effects during play
Options: definable keys. Choose between different locations
Surprisingly, Live And Let Die is a really addictive speedboat chase game and has some lastability if you are prepared to persist with it. Presentation is good, with colour used well throughout the game. Actual graphics are very similar to Elite's Buggy Boy, and in fact some of the levels resemble 'stages of the arcade game left out of the Spectrum conversion. It's fun to play - until you get irritated by the toughness.
£8.99 cass/£14.99 disk
Reviewer: Ciaran Brennan
The Bond films went through a really bad patch during the 70's. Apart from the fact that Roger Moore was the naffest 007 of all time (did you know that towards the end of his Bond career, old Rog needed a stuntman to do his running scenes for him!), the films usually had really awful theme tunes sung by Shirley Bassey or Paul McCartney. None of these was worse than Macca's Live And Let Die, and the standard of the song was matched by the dismal film which had Bond faffing around New Orleans trying to deal with the hocus pocus of a Voodoo priest. For some reason or other, Domark has decided to licence this film - 12 years after it was first released! But what does time matter if the game is good? Let's have a look and see!
The game's story is loosely based on the original film plot. The evil Dr Kanaga has holed up on the Carribean island of San Monique where he plans to harvest the world's biggest poppy crop and flood the world market with heroin. This done, he should then be able to take over the world (what he plans to do when he's in charge of a world full of junkies is anybody's guess) Obviously Bond has to put a stop to this, but he's really up against it this time as Dr Kanaga has the power of Voodoo to draw on and masses of zombie slaves at his beck and call.
For some reason, "M" (Bond's boss) reckons that the best way for this evil-doer to be brought to justice is for 007 to take a speedboat and blast his way along four different waterways: the Nile; an anonymous practice canal; an Arctic river and the river which flows through New Orleans. This may seem like a peculiar solution to you and I, but I suppose that's why M is the leader of the British Secret Service and we're still at home playing computer games.
The first mission is a target practice section, where Bond takes his motor boat along an undefended stretch of river and shoots at floating targets. This is a piece of cake for anyone with a licence to kill. so after a few attempts at this it's into the missions proper. The three missions are largely the same, differing only slightly in background and some of the defences, Things to watch out for include floating mines, rocks which protrude slightly above the water, dive-bmbing planes and helicopters and gun emplacements on the river banks.
In a wonderful spirit of international co-operation, the CIA are always around to lend a hadn, dropping extra fuel and missiles from passing aircraft. Even at this point caution must be exercised though, as Dr Kanaga's nasties occasionally drop bobby-trapped cannisters hoping that you'll pick them up by mistake - the fiendish devils.
The gameplay can best be described as a sort of waterbound Road Blasters, with the boat remaining mid-screen and the river stretching and bending in its path. Some nice touches appear along the way, like the boat leaping into into the air when it hits a log and the impressive tunnel sequences (just wait for the light at the end). However these good points are completely outweighed by some pretty startling deficiencies such as the remarkably iffy collision detection, the similarity between rocks and mines (this is important because mines can be destroyed and rocks can't) and the fact that is impossible to end up on the bank - no matter how bad your steering is.
One glaring fault that stood above all others is that when using the joystick I couldn't find any way of launching the 'Snuff' missiles (which are essential equipment in certain sections), this meant that using keys was more or less compulsory.
I didn't get too much fun out of Live And Let Die. The game is too similar to most of the driving games that are doing the rounds at the moment and the flaws in the programming destroy any enjoyment that may have been in there. This may have been a very noble co-ooperation between two software producers (Elite did the programming, leaving the production and marketing to Domark), but as a film tie-in it's a sad waste of a licence.
Better late than never, eh? It was only about fifteen years ago that the movie came out and Domark have snapped up the licence.
Live and Let Die actually began life as Aquablaster by Elite and it hasn't actually undergone a huge facelift since we saw it a couple of months ago. Still such is the way of the lumbering monster that is the software industry. It's actually a reasonably enjoyable escapade. Very seen-it-before 3D blow-up the enemy while racing around, but it's perfectly competently put together.
If you can remember the movie, I'm sure that the boat chase sequence will have lodged itself in your memory. Pretty good job really, since the whole game revolves around this scene. Actually, I confess to being a teensy bit confused, since you race your boat and chase bad guys all over the world, from New Orleans (as in the movie) to the frozen wastes of somewhere or other, and even across the Sahara desert (yeah, I know). Personally I'd rather have had a bit more variety, maybe even a car chase on the same format would have been better.
As you race along the waterways, numerous hazards will appear in your path. There are mines which are dropped by enemy jet boats and logs and ice floes and gun implacements on the banks. All of these can be dealt with in a particular way. Some can be vaulted, others simply shot to bits.
The biggest worry, other than dodging the mines, is keeping your fuel level up. By running over the fuel canisters dropped by helicopters it can be boosted. As a result there's a lot more swerving around to be done than it first appears. You really do need to pick up virtually every can if you're going to get through to the end.
Graphically we're not talking major sophistication. The objects don't really move at a particularly impressive speed, either, but you do get a reasonable feeling of being charge of a boat that's slightly too powerful for it's own good. I could never quite manage to steer myself out of trouble - I was just going too fast (impetuosity of youth, eh? - GT)
The bad guys in boats don't really prove to be too much of a problem. Indeed, they keep a pretty low profile throughout most of the game. Personally I found the land-mounted gun installations to be far more deadly; almost impossible to shoot from the water, they'd sling out a grenade at me just as I was passing.
Don't be fooled into thinking that Live and Let Die is in any way a half way realistic representation of the film. It just isn't. It is a pretty reasonable bash, however, and should keep you going for a couple of hours while you're waiting for your copy of Operation Wolf to make it to the shops.
Author: Elite Systems
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
The name's Bond, James Bond. You might have heard of me. I used to be a top secret agent before the hormone injections stopped working and I had to retire. Now they've replaced me with some upstart from the Royal Shakeapeare Company, and all I have left is my memories, and they're a bit shakey.
One affair I remember well is the Live and Let Die job. It was all to do with a Caribbean dictator planning to destroy America by flooding the country with free drugs. Good luck to him, I said, but M thought otherwise, and I was ordered to deal with the evil Dr Kananga. Imagine my surprise when my exploits were turned into a computer game several years later, and imagine how far my eyebrows rose when I saw what a rotten job they'd done of it. Her Majesty's Secret Service got hold of information indicating that the game was the result of a deal between two shady underworld groups.
D.O.M.A.R.K. and E.L.I.T.E., who discovered that they were working on two such similar games that they decided to merge them together - a pity the result had nothing to do with my adventures. I don't even appear in the game myself - the star of the whole thing is a speedboat!
As part of the mission I have to steer the boat along four waterways; a target practice run, South American jungle, Norwegian Fjords and Middle East Deserts (all very good training for an attack on a Caribbean island, you'll agree). My boat's armed with machine guns to deal with enemy speedboats, mines, fuel drums and other obatacles, and I have to leap over logs, steer through tunnels and negotiate narrow waterways. There are passing helicopters, and riverside gun emplacements to deal with too, but you never get the feel of break-neck speed that gets the old adrenalin going. And damn me if I could find the controls to launch the three missiles I need to smash lock doors; press A+Spacebar as it says in the instructions, and nothing happens. Better have a word with Q about that.
The landscapes are quite pretty but very samey, basically just different colours; they move quite smoothly, but not as smoothly as the belly-dancers in the Purple Pussycat club in Cairo. And they don't even use the music from the film - probably that notorious international terrorist McCartney would have demanded too much in the way of royalties.
On the whole this is one mission I would rather have forgotten. Now let me tell you about the time Goidfinger strapped me to a table and tried to turn me into a soprano with his laser beam...
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
MACHINES: Spec, Ams, C64, ST, Amiga
PRICE: Spec cass £8.99, Disc £12.99, C64 £9.99, Disc £11.99, Ams cass £9.99, Disc £14.99, ST £19.99, Amiga £24.99
VERSION TESTED: Spec
No, I'm not going to make all the obvious statements or remarks, such as isn't it interesting how this game looks remarkably like a game called Aquablaster that I saw a while ago, or how come that such an old film is only being licensed now, or (OK, we get the message - Ed).
No prizes for guessing that Live and Let Die places you in the role of James Bond in one of the most exciting sequences in the film, the death defying speedboat chase along the winding rivers of, er, well somewhere in America. Viewed in much the some way as Out Run/Roadblasters/almost any other racing game, except that this time it's on water. In fact, this game reminds me of nothing so much as Buggy Boy, complete with gates, underground tunnels and banks on either side of the road that you can drive up to avoid any mines that might just be floating in the water.
Mines are only part of the trouble, however. For the first part you've got to remember that you've only got a very narrow river to ride on, so you've got to try and plan evasive action very carefully, as too many times you go left around an obstacle when you should have gone right and find yourself against a group of mines that you can only get around on the right side and boom!
Enemy boats are also racing up and down the waterways, and it's these that drop the mines. It would be nicer it they dropped them neatly in a line, but oh no, they zig-zag across the river, and it does get amazingly difficult to get around them. Loch gates bar your way at various stages along the rivers (yes, rivers. you get a choice of five at the start of the game) and these need to be shot down with a missile. Unfortunately, you only get three, and you tend to get four gates. And, if all that ain't enough, you have the normal Roadblasters cannons at either side of the riverbed.
So, with all this being thrown at you, what have you got on your side? Well, you've got your handy cannon, along with the three missiles. Also, you find at places along the river logs which when run over, catapult you into the air and over obstacles. There are fuel cans (which look amazingly like logs) which give you back some fuel. Should you run out of fuel, it's game over.
The graphics are large and well animated on the Spectrum though ,as usual, monochrome. The explosion of the main character is quite nice. The 3D update of the approaching objects is well done, too.
It ploys well, with quite a fast joystick response, but I did find the firing a little sticky. It's not too difficult, but it's no walkover either. There's enough there to keep even the most seasoned arcadester playing for a while.
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