keskiviikko 12. joulukuuta 2012

REVIEW - James Bond Jr | SNES | 1992

GENRE(S): Action / Platform / Shooter
DEVELOPER(S): Gray Matter

James Bond Jr's less than illustrious career in video games couldn't be dealt with a single game, and I certainly have no idea why not. A while after making his video game debut on the NES, the obnoxious nephew of 007 made his second and luckily last video game appearance on the SNES. The game was published by THQ, just like the last one, but instead of being a 16-bit port of the 8-bit game, it was more like a sequel, and altogether more like the cartoon it was based on, unlike the first one which felt like action stock, unleashed with a "popular" brand name, with not much more in common with the source. However, just like the last game, it's terrible beyond measure - but not as terrible as I imagined. A pity, really.

"Why My Childhood Sucked", Chapter II

Desert Strike? Once again, not quite.
James Bond Jr. travels the world in pursuit of the most high-ranking agents of S.C.U.M., namely Dr. Derange, Maximillion Cortex and Scumlord himself, who have each stolen different artifacts they are planning to use to take over the world.

There were three cartoons in my childhood which nearly destroyed my belief in humanity. Today, there's nothing BUT bad cartoons (all that CGI and letting retards remake classics makes me nauseous), but in the late 80's and early 90's, a bad cartoon stuck out like a sore thumb. I can still watch many of the best shows of the era with a huge smile on my face. Like anything by Disney, Biker Mice from Mars, and last, DEFINITELY not least, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. TMNT and BMFM were the shite - they defined the standard of what boys' cartoons should be like. James Bond Jr was like a stain in the middle. I NEVER liked that show. Same goes for the second on my list of three, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. The same does not go for Captain Planet and the Planeteers, which I actually did like as a kid - my appreciation for the show died when I figured it was merely education in disguise. The best cartoons weren't about education - they were about action, or good comedy, interesting and appealing characters, and good storylines that would stick with you for decades. Well, at least Captain Planet had something. James Bond Jr had no qualities at all. The show was a failure, likely justified with the desire to present the 007 franchise to younger audiences - younger audiences that were already enjoying the REAL 007 franchise with their dads (or in my case, brothers). OK, maybe the latest Bond movie made at the time (Licence to Kill) wasn't fit for younger audiences due to its shark tank sequence, but there was nothing age-restricted about most of the franchise at the time in my view.

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, I loved
that show.
With that out of the way, the NES game sucked, but it didn't suck quite as bad as I thought it would. When it came time for me to slap in the SNES game, I had my mind set on "destroy". Just the mere thought of bearing through another James Bond Jr license gave me the creeps. In a surprise turn of the ages, I actually kind of enjoyed the game at first, but soon found that the thought of semi-decency was a mere illusion. James Bond Jr for the SNES is a whole different game than the last one, but not much better in terms of quality.

The game looks lame, just what the most basic third-party SNES platformer looked back then. Once again, the music's surprisingly OK - a twisted version of the theme song appears this time around, luckily without any voice samples. "JAAAAAAMES BOOOOOND, JAMES BOND JUNIOR!" God, now I can't get that out of my head.

The game has three levels, all of which are divided into two wholly different parts. The first stage in each level is a shooter - the vehicles change, but the basics stay pretty much the same. Shoot, dodge, shoot some more, dodge again. Harder than it sounds, and yes, it's a one-hit kill situation, and yes, these stages seem to last forever, or several periods of 'em forevers. Surprisingly, checkpoints are there to represent... not in the standard gameplay mode, though. The speedboat is the only vehicle of the three that isn't necessarily blown to shit by one hit, but it has its own problems in utter impossibility to survive without certain power-ups.

Don't blow your own horn, dude.
The standard gameplay mode, which is of a very basic platformer kind, suffers of once again left-handed level design, oversensitive controls, invisible traps, jumps to the complete unknown, and enemies which are either near-impossible to hit or unnecessarily difficult to hit, to the point of draining all of your most relevant ammo. There are plenty of level-specific weapons for you to find, for example flutes to charm snakes in the first level, which is a typical Mayan temple or something like that. Flutes to charm snakes... kind of a neat idea. Ridiculous, but kinda neat. But, every mildly good idea the game has in store comes with an unwanted prize from the twilight zone. Just having invisible traps, like spikes coming out of the ground at completely random spots and intervals, and jumps to the complete unknown, with zero checkpoints to be checked and a maximum health of five hearts at all times, is quite enough to tell you that this ain't a comfortable game to play. Even the standard stages last forever, and even if you lose to the boss, you're still going to the very beginning of the stage. If you lose all your lives and continue, you're gonna have to do the whole level all over again, with the exception of the shooter stage. Oh, and did I mention the levels are designed extremely boring and bland? I guess I did, but another time won't hurt.

"When you were young and your heart was
an open book..."
Well, if you're really into 16-bit obscurities - and that's a big, old, deliberately capped REALLY - you might enjoy giving this game a TRY. It's not really that hard, it just takes a lot of trial and error, and a lot of patience to clash through, even if it does have only three levels. I ran out of my share of patience in the middle, when I found that I had once again missed some power-up and couldn't proceed without it, and that power-up was left way back, beyond my reach. After I found out I had already passed the halfway mark, I returned to put a cap on the son of a bitch. Didn't feel any better about myself, and I don't believe you're going to be any more enriched by the experience. However, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes still remains the worst piece of video game merchandise based on cartoons made in the early 90's.

+ Decent music
+ A couple of almost neat ideas...

- ...Countered by standard gameplay from hell
- Generic level design
- Controls in the shoot 'em up sequences are way too sensitive to justify one-hit kills
- Still one of the most horrible sources for cartoon licensing one can imagine

< 4.5 >

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