In every Bond movie there's an evil megalomaniac who attempts to take over the world - here it's Karl Stromberg, a bit of a fruit cake, who, from his underwater base Atlantis, has hatched a cunning plan! He steals two nuclear submarines, one British, the other Russian, and with them plans to destroy New York and Moscow. It's up to Bond and beautiful Russian spy Major Anya Amasova to save the world (again).
The game is split into six parts, each a scene from the movie. The first has Bond and Anya driving along the open road to meet Q. Bond's white Lotus is viewed from above (in true Spy Hunter style), and the idea is to collect as many of the Q tokens as you can whilst avoiding the obstacles. The Lotus is armoured but repeated knocks and crashes result in a loss of a life.
By visiting a dock halfway through this scene the Lotus transforms into a speedboat and you race it up the river avoiding jettys, mooring posts and trigger-happy Stromberg goons.
In scene two various vehicles hinder progress but Q's van is at hand. Board it and you can buy additional weapons with your collected Q tokens. Make sure you get the jobbie to convert the Lotus into a submarine because you're underwater in level three where Bond and Anya are attacked by a variety of underwater vehicles as they head for Atlantis.
The final three levels see Bond blowing the doors to the control room where the nuclear subs are being directed. Bond is perched atop a surveillance camera whilst you, as Anya, must shoot the soldiers trying to stop Bond. Scene five sees Bond and his jetski heading for Atlantis to save Anya who has been kidnapped by Stromberg, whilst the sixth and final scene has Bond shooting it out with Stromberg and his sinister henchman Jaws.
The movie is one of my favourite Bond romps, and so I had high hopes for the game. The verdict... well it does have its good points, the attention to detail is one. Both the moving and static sprites are nicely detailed, though scrolling is a little on the juddery side.
The gameplay is tough which may put some people off. Also the sound is a bit of a letdown, the decent tune at the start makes way for a few bog standard blasting effects during play. It's a good Bond adaption, but doesn't top Licence To Kill for action!
The Spy Who Loved Me follows in the tradition of other James Bond games: it has slick presentation, neat graphics but is incredibly short on gameplay. The first sections are very similar in look to the age old Spy Hunter but, sadly, not as playable. The most annoying thing about the game is that changing direction as you are driving along makes the car slide the opposite way, almost always into the ditch or off a bridge! Another feature that lets it down is the way you have to memorize the layout of each level before you can complete it. Learning by your mistakes is the only way to succeed. The Spy Who Loved Me wont keep me playing for long.
£9.99 cass/£14.99 disk
Reviewer: Matt Bielby
As dedicated Spec-chums should know by now, Domark hold the licence to the entire run of James Bond films, and seem set to release a new one every year. This time round there's no new film, so it's raid-the-back-catalogue time again, and what have they come up with but The Spy Who Loved Me (possibly Roger Moore's best outing as 007). Good film, but will it translate into a stonker of a game? "Yes," say Domark confidently. "It's destined to be the best yet." Let's see, shall we?
Okay, so first off how does it all work? Well, it's pretty much an updated Spy Hunter really or at least half of it is. There are seven levels of overhead-viewed action, some of them very much racing games with you zooming your Lotus Esprit around roads, over bridges and so on (and shooting or dodging other cars while you're at it) while the others (the water-based ones, where there are no roads or obstacles as such) play much more like your standard vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up. Your task (as secret agent James Bond 007, of course) is to prevent arch-villain Stromberg's mad plan to provoke nuclear war and rule the resulting mess from his undersea base Atlantis. In levels very (very) loosely based on scenes from the film (for instance, the famous bit where Bond drives his car off the end of a pier and it turns into a submarine, as opposed to the wet bike shoot-'em-up and speedboat chase which have nothing whatever to do with the film) Bond must defeat Stromberg by, erm, simply driving along and shooting things (it would appear).
In this way, Spy isn't really a film conversion at all in the way that, say, Ocean do them - there's no real attempt to tell the plot of the film or explain how the levels connect. Instead this is more of a scrolling shoot-em-up 'inspired' by the movie. All very well, you might be saying, but is it actually any good?
Well, yes it is, in a funny sort of a way. The actual driving bits on the roads are excellent - though only monochrome, there's a rather pretty background to them, they scroll quite last and smoothly, and the difficulty build-up is quite well handled. There are lots of collectable items that add speed and weaponry to your car, a shop sequence set in Q's truck and so on - you can see how they've gone for an arcade game feel with all this stuff. They're also the bits that are most reminiscent of the film.
Less successful are most of the aquatic bits. The speedboat chase (Level Two) is okay, but spoilt by the fact it's got absolutely nothing to do with the movie, while the underwater Esprit bit, perhaps in a misguided attempt to reproduce the feeling of being in the deep, blue briney, is just too slow. There are some nice visual effects (the bubbles, how your car goes all wavey as if being viewed through water) but how on earth are you meant to dodge enemy subs or (badly-drawn) divers when your car's plodding along at such a snail's pace?
The final jet-ski fight is a disappointment too - a vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up has to be something special to earn much of a vote these days, and this just isn't it. No background to speak of and some rather weedy little sprites shifting aimlessly round the screen - it could be set in space for all the difference it would make to the game (in fact some stray person wandering into the office actually thought it was!).
So not a bad Spy Hunter update overall, and certainly an improvement on recent(ish) attempts like Action Fighter, not to mention the vast bulk of past James Bond games. I enjoyed it - particularly the road-based sequences - but it's not a knock-out by any means.
Hush, hush - whisper who dares! Who are those figures there on the stairs? It's the Replay gang! (Oh dear.)
The Hit Squad
061 832 6633
Reviewer: Stuart Campbell
I was going to start this review by singing the title song of the movie, but I couldn't remember the words, so think yourselves lucky. The Spy Who Loved Me, despite being one of the older James Bond films around, is actually the most recent computer game. Not that it really matters, because the gameplay is linked to the movie in only the most tenuous way, but there you go anyway. What you get, game-wise, is a multi-sectioned game featuring Spy Hunteresque driving action, scrolling speedboat antics in a Spy Hunter vein, and underwater shoot-'em-uppy bits strongly reminiscent of, er, Spy Hunter.
But hey - this is no straight Spy Hunter clone. Nope, it's nowhere near that good. For a start, despite being composed of simple vertically-scrolling sections with hardly ever more than two things moving at a time, it's almost completely monochrome, which makes for very dull and largely featureless landscapes. Then there's the sound. It starts off promisingly (in 128K mode, at least) with a moderately funky version of the James Bond theme, but as soon as the program has to produce any other sound effect at all, the music stops in mid-bar and doesn't come back again, ever. The gameplay itself is hideously dull, and amounts to nothing more than learning the road/river/baddie layout of each level and remembering it. Since the most complicated thing you ever have to remember is whether to go left or right, this isn't too tricky a task, and if you've got plenty of time on your hands you'll finish the game the day you buy it.
'But Stuart', I hear you all cry, 'If the game's so short and easy, why do we need plenty of time?' Ah well, my little Honey Nut Loops, the reason you need plenty of time is that whenever you lose all your lives (not a very hard thing to do), you have to rewind the tape back to the beginning and start the entire game all over again. Yes, even on 128K machines. Since loading a single section takes longer than your game will have lasted, this quickly gets very wearing indeed. And since there's nothing in the game to make it worth all the faffing about, you'll very probably give up inside about half-an-hour. Dismal stuff, and no mistake.
Domark's habit of bringing out James Bond film licence games several years after the film has appeared is pretty disconcerting, but in the case of The Spy Who Loved Me, things aren't so bad, since the movie was on the TV only last month (and in fact seems to be on every other month).
You may or not remember the plot; this is the one where 007 teams up with a Soviet agent, Anya Amasova (which translated from Russian means Hot Bit of Skirt) to see off web-fingered loony Karl Stromberg, who plans to start a nuclear war by kidnapping two submarines. Bond and Amasova have to penetrate Stromberg's seabase Atlantis, with the help of a Lotus Esprit which has the handy ability to work underwater.
The game reproduces four sections of the film; a race to the coast in the Lotus, a journey to Atlantis by speedboat, an underwater attack on the base and a final journey by jet-bike.
In the first section the vertical scrolling is fast but none too smooth, and though the background details of the roadside buildings viewed from above are decent, the Lotus turns a very funny shapd when you turn corners.
The idea here is to race to the coast as fast as possible, avoiding pedestrians and bollards, slowing down for crossing oil slicks and collecting tokens which entitle you to extra weaponry in later stages. Then it's a virtual repeat, this time in a motorboat, but this time you have to avoid jetties and hit ramps to leap over obstacles.
Trouble is, if you steer the wrong way around a jetty, you'll tur... into a dead end, and you can't back out.
Next there's another road race where you're attacked by helicopters, followed by the underwater routine in which you fight off enemy frogmen and subs, and finally the jet-bike section which I admit I haven't yet reached, but which I think we can all imagine.
Not at all bad in most ways; the impressive arrangement of the Bond theme music adds to the atmosphere, and despite the absence of the anti-hero Jaws from the Spectrum version. The Spy Who Loved Me must qualify as one of the better Bond movie licences.
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