RetroVision – Adapting James Bond

Mention Goldeneye to any gamer, and it’ll bring back memories not only of one of the greatest first-person shooters ever made, but one of the most influential games of all time.  If it doesn’t, then it really should.  Goldeneye is based on the 1995 film of the same name, and stars Pierce Brosnan as he looks to prevent the activation of a deadly satellite weapon system, after it falls into the wrong hands.  In this respect it followed the plot of the film extremely closely, something most games based on films historically did.

In fact it’d be fair to say that, especially during the 8 & 16-bit days, following the plot of a film closely was very much the norm.  This obviously doesn’t take into consideration those that just simply failed to replicate the film.  I’m looking at you LJN, and titles such as Back To The Future and Alien 3 on NES.

Goldeneye Box
Goldeneye on N64, one of the most influential games of all time.

However, when talking about Bond, there are an equal number of titles that expand on the 007 universe, through original stories, and starring the Bond of the era.  In this respect, the Bond licence was one the very first within the industry to take a film franchise, and repeatedly look to truly make it something unique when bringing it to consoles.  This includes titles such as 007 Nightfire, and the more recent 007 Blood Stone, which was set in the aftermath of the 2008 movie Quantum of Solace.

However, the very first of these original games came during the 16-bit era, being developed by Domark, who later went on to help form Eidos.  This game was the 1993 Mega Drive / Genesis title James Bond 007: The Duel.  A game that whilst it may not seem it, can arguably be viewed as being vitally important to the way in which gaming as a media treats tie-ins with famous film licenses.

The Duel Gameplay 1
Gameplay from Domark’s The Duel.

The most important factor when looking at The Duel, comes through its original story.  Not only was this story never before seen, but it also included wider cast members from the Bond franchise, including Oddjob and Jaws.  This made the game feel like it was a true entry in the franchise’s main series, rather than the story simply being an afterthought.

Secondly, not only was this game a brand new story in the franchise, but it also utilised the complete likeness of Timothy Dalton as James Bond.  This came despite it being four years since the last film Licence To Kill, with this hiatus occurring thanks to ongoing legal disputes.  This allowed the James Bond franchise to continue despite problems involving creation of new moves.  Furthermore, utilising Timothy Dalton’s likeness within the game, also marked his final appearance as James Bond.  This was something mirrored by Pierce Brosnan, whose last appearance as Bond was also in an original video game, 007 Everything or Nothing.

Indy Atlantis
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

Of course The Duel, wasn’t the first to take a film franchise and make an original entry as a video game.  This is most notably seen through LucasArts’ use of their own Indiana Jones licence, and Harrison Ford’s likeness, in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.  Nevertheless, The Duel alongside games such as The Fate of Atlantis, really showed a changing tide in the way that film franchises were treated in gaming, and in the way gaming was viewed by Hollywood.  From the foundations set by games such as these, it’s not too far a stretch to see how we have got to where we are today, with Hollywood stars appearing in games, and gaming voice actors appearing in films and on TV.

Not only that, but nowadays, Hollywood stars are even appearing in completely original titles rather adaptions, evidenced by the stella performances of actors such as Kevin Spacey in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Kiefer Sutherland in Metal Gear Solid V, and Mark Hamill as The Joker.  This even includes Daniel Craig returning as James Bond in the aforementioned 007 Blood Stone.  To many these days, this seems like a brand new phenomenon in the evolution of gaming as a medium, and whilst this is the growth of gaming and its reach, these seeds were not sowed in the last five years, but all the way back in the 8 & 16-bit days of gaming.

Simon Aubrey Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that I've written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DudeXChill or @RingsandCoins.

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