A review of the Zelda-inspired handheld James Bond game

Vidyasaur
4 min readJan 4, 2024

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Box scans on GameFaqs contributed by by irelandgamer94 and Longplayer.

Most games based on the James Bond franchise skew toward shooting-oriented gameplay. I expected James Bond 007 to be one of those but as a 2D platformer. Instead, it’s a game that feels similar to The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. It has some interesting ideas and moments that dissipate in favor of unentertaining combat. Interestingly, it answers the question of what a Zelda-inspired James Bond game could look like.

China, the first level.

You begin the game in China and the first obstacle isn’t an armed soldier, but a destroyed bridge. You have to find a missing hammer and return it to a carpenter to repair a bridge. It’s an unusual start for James Bond because it doesn’t involve a shootout, infiltration, or using a gadget. Likewise, your inventory only contains the ability to punch and another ability that lets you block. Like Link’s Awakening, you can map an item to the A or B button. You would think defeating the enemies here is done by punching them. Instead, you first have to block their attacks before you can counter with a punch. This is a neat idea for combat but is never changed. As a result, it ends up being too basic to be engaging. Kurdistan is the next level and the tool it introduces is a machete that can be used as both a weapon and a way to destroy bushes. This is similar to Link’s sword in Link’s Awakening, but slashing bushes to reach new areas doesn’t show up again until a few levels later.

Marrakech level

Marrakech is both the longest and largest level and is the high point of the game. Completing it requires obtaining items and trading them for more. To obtain a pearl you have to exterminate pests in a man’s home by giving him a cat you obtained after trading a chicken. It’s a humorous and ridiculous sequence that wouldn’t occur in a James Bond film. There are two ideas in this level I like. One is an enemy type that only attacks you if you hit them. The other is a casino where you can play card games such as Blackjack and Baccarat. Unfortunately, Marrakech has a few issues. Exploration gets tiring due to the city’s maze-like structure. The casino becomes tedious because you need to win $2500 dollars to meet an important character. It’s easy to lose your money if you’re not familiar with the rules of the card games. I enjoy the interconnected areas in this level and the NPCs you can talk to. At the end James Bond is ambushed by Odd Job and is dumped in the middle of the Sahara desert. This level features no combat and one puzzle. To reach the end of the level you have to navigate each screen in a specific order. A canteen represents how many times you can move to the next screen. When the canteen is empty your health bar will deplete until a game over occurs.

Tibet level.

The Tibet level is when the game begins to devolve into combat-heavy mazes. You have to navigate a cave while fighting enemies in nearly every room. At this point I realized that 007: James Bond is better as an adventure game instead of one that emphasizes combat. Like many 2D games, combat involves moving in four directions and trying to face an enemy so you can shoot from afar or get close to attack. What hampers the combat are dark areas like the cave. Being able to see requires the use of night-vision-goggles that have must be mapped to the A or B button. You can only use one item like a melee weapon or a firearm. You can equip armor to absorb hits that would otherwise deplete your health bar, but doing so makes fighting enemies impossible when you have the night vision goggles equipped too. Having armor be a secondary health bar instead of an item would’ve been convenient. The end of Tibet contains a more durable version of the enemies from the first level. I prefer counterattacking these enemies than having to go through cramped shootouts. The two noteworthy things in the next level are a shield and the boss fight against Odd Job. The shield can block gunfire and deflect Odd Job’s projectiles.

007: James Bond is a decent game that is less interesting after the Maccarech level. However, its an inkling of what a Zelda-inspired game based on the James Bond franchise could look like. The world could be a series of interconnected maps instead of being broken up into levels. Dangerous locations could be dungeons that require the tools like Q’s gadgets to overcome. 007: James Bond has a strong beginning, but it can’t carry its Zelda-inspired gameplay to the end.

Screenshots captured from the longplay by Manikinator: https://youtu.be/4K2FoGN5Apo?si=X3RWQRrVGWzpUDmE

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