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[Spectrum loading sounds]
[Bond style music begins]
Timothy Dalton.
The best Bond in my opinion.
The two films he starred in, are the ones I remember most vividly, Sure, they're a little
ridiculous in places....
*bang*bang*bang*
I mean just shoot him in the body, but they re-aligned the franchise with its roots; Portraying
a more serious and ruthless Bond, akin to what you'd find in Ian Flemming's novels.
It's a shame that he decided to opt out of further movies after legal issues between
MGM and Eon, but I suppose Pierce Brosnan was pretty good.
Of course, Bond films aren't all about the actors.
In the Living Daylights, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage is the stand out machine, complete
with fitted skis, naturally.
This is the Aston Martin of the films release year, 1987.
But there was an additional component to this film; an entirely new backstory, but it didn't
actually arrive until 3 years later; 1990..... and its orchestrator....
Well, it was Amstrad of course, when they created the ZX Spectrum James Bond 007 Action
Pack, having bought the Sinclair brand 5 years earlier.
*James Bond intensifies*
Why pay attention Bond.
This is the Sinclair ZX Spectrum+2, it's a fully operational computer with 128K, and
it comes with 3 James Bond games and a lightgun that fires armour piercing shells!
now that's your assignment
No, don't sit in that chair!
Sorry Bond, haven't perfected that yet.
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2
Regardless of your feelings toward this soul-blistering advert, rolling out just in time for the festive
season, it certainly piqued the interests of many a youngster, rolling into this new
decade.
Here was a ZX Spectrum +2, with a light gun, and an entire action pack based around James
Bond, which you just might be able to get for Christmas, if you family was flush enough
anyway.
This may not have been the peak for the ZX Spectrum.
Here was a machine that, at it's core, was now 8 years old.
It may not have even been the peak for Bond.
Many hadn't yet become accustomed to Dalton's rendition of Flemming's most famous character,
but Amstrad weren't messing about.
This was a serious pack, and they aimed it at the kids just getting hooked on this fleeting,
but new 007 chapter.
Well, it certainly worked; helping to drag the Spectrum into the 90s...
And that's partly due to how well this kit is put together.
You might think that Amstrad would have chosen to focus on and use the artwork from 1989's
Licence to Kill, rather than the Living Daylights, but for most kids, their first taste of Dalton's
Bond would be through video rental, even TV premieres... and back then, the industry moved
slowly.
So Licence to Kill was likely much more familiar to it's target audience.
I'm sure it also had some cost saving from Amstrad's perspective too.
But I think the main reason, is due to the games.
We'll get to them.
This is very firmly, a UK release pack, and of course it is, it's the Spectrum's home
soil, where it sold best.
It may have made it to some other European regions, but it's here where it sold best.
Inside we, of course get a ZX Spectrum +2A.
This is a darker revision over the original grey +2, and based around the +3 internals.
Amstrad even include a note to make you aware of the hardware differences.
We get a Standard instruction manual.
But it's the James Bond specific components I find the most fascinating.
First up is the Magnum light phaser, re-branded as a Sinclair phaser.
Sure, this might not be Bond specific.
But it fits so well.
I mean, what self respecting spy doesn't have a huge plastic gun??
[paper like sounds]
Inside this envelope, marked TOP SECRET, we find an official looking letter, and a passport.
Come on... you can imagine the excitement, getting this as an 8 year old.
Or even as an adult, know some people love impotent blue passports.
The passport serves as the game instructions, but carries through the passport look, to
make it feel like an essential prop, rather than just a scrappy leaflet.
You can even fill in your details if you choose.
We've also got some warranty information, oh, and the original receipt for the pack.
£159.
Bargain.
And here we have two cassette tapes.
The first contains two games; Lord Bromley's Estate on side A, and Q's Armoury on side
B.
The second cassette contains a game called Mission Zero on side A and a special audio
recording on side B.
But actually, this is out first port of call.
Grabbing a suitable cassette player, our first task is to listen to the audio tape.
*clunking*
[James Bond style music plays]
Pull!
*BLAST* Pull!
*BLAST* *BLAST*
*BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP*
Oh there you are 007!
Yup, that is indeed Desmond Llewelyn, or Q, if you prefer... which certainly gives this
whole thing more impetus... this is also where we get fed the first part of our new backstory.
-Q- I'm sorry 007, but you weren't invited just
to enjoy the country air.
Now 002 has reported strange things happening on the Turkish coast.
About a week ago a tiny little fishing village was swamped by foreigners.
They're a mixed bunch, all nationalities, but he heard them talking about low level
helicopter flying -Q-
Also, Q is actually saying Brocolli, rather than Bromley.
Which appears to be a nod to the film's producers, Albert and Barbara Broccoli.
Why it was changed for the pack is unclear.
-Q- Broccoli is playing host to some of the most
important people in Europe, and we can't take any chances.
-Q-
So 002 is dead, but he reported lots of movement in a tiny fishing village on the Turkish coast,
along with discussions of low level helicopter flying.
But regardless, we're going to hang around on Lord Bromley's estate and shoot some clay
pigeons.
Because, well, F*ck it.
[More Bond style music]
Now, this game is published by Domark Ltd (who are known as Square Enix today) but programmed
by a little outfit known as Divide by Zero.
We get a little introduction, and we're informed that an organisation known as "SPECTRE" have
other ideas.
We're then straight into the shooting.
Now, you can get an idea how the light sensor is working here by the significant screen
disruption occurring when you press the trigger.
The back of the passport tells us its to help establish our aim.
But what's happening is similar to most light gun games of the era, although this one employs
a kind of double buffer approach, presumably to increase accuracy.
When you press the trigger, the game works out approximately where you're aiming, based
on the timings of the CRT scan rate.
It then throws a block across the X axis, and edges white light into the area it thinks
you're pointing.
As soon as the gun senses this light, it repeats this part of the process for verification,
and registers your shot.
If this happens to also coincide with a target hit box, well then, the clay pigeon is destroyed.
Otherwise, you've missed.
With this in mind, we need to progress through 10 levels of increasing difficulty, and if
we succeed, then SPECTRE appears in their chopper, in front of a ready cocked shotgun
no less.
Shoot them 10 times and we're good.
It's actually a pretty decent light gun game, which seems to borrow location elements from
the estate shown in the Living Daylights.
Anyway, it's time to go back to the cassette....
[James Bond Music]
-Q- Now 007, thanks for getting down here so quickly.
You know we were right.
The crew of the chopper, reads like a roll call of international terrorists.
Four of the most dangerous mercenaries on our files.
-Q-
So, we've got more details on that chopper, and then Q has some light humorous banter,
before explaining about the organisation SPIDER.
Which in the game was SPECTRE.
Perhaps they wanted to differentiate from the actual organisation from Ian Flemming's
books, and avoid potential legal issues.
So we get our first whiff that this story-line may not be accepted as canon, or it's branching
at least.
-Q- Now, there's only one organisation powerful
enough to recruit terrorists of these capabilities.
A terrorist organisation called Spider.
If they'd killed those ambassadors on British soil.
Think what it would have meant to the peace talks next month!
We'd be back in the iciest depths of the cold war.
So , we're sending you in -Q-
Then we're onto the weapon, Q's speciality... and we actually get a bit of tech borrowed
from Licence to Kill... clearly trying to increase the wonder surrounding this pack
and the included phaser.
-Q- Now, this may look like an ordinary pistol,
but it's not.
Firstly, it's electrically genetically personalised.
Only you will be able to use it.
Now, I want you to hold it, while I set it
*beep* *boop* *beep*
there.
That's it.
Pay attention, because this is actually three weapons in one.
For your second mission to the range, you'll use it in continuous fire mode, and for the
third, heavy artillery.
Well you can't really lug a bazooka around with you, so we've devised a miniature explosive
shell.
-Q-
The is Q's Shooting range, or Q's Armoury as titled in the game.
Man, either there was a lot of miscommunication, or a lot of last minute changes.
Here, there are only three levels, where we get to use each of the ammunition types, and
have to achieve an increasingly accurate hit rate.
[light gun sound effects]
I actually thought it was a re-coded version of the firing range, from the Magnum phaser
game Bronx Street Cop.
But despite the similarities, it's not.
Strangely, targetting is a bit more difficult than Bromley's Manor, but the shortness of
the title means we can swiftly move on.
The last message gets to the real guts of the situation....
-Q- Well done 007, I knew you could do it!
-Q-
"Yeah no problems whatsoever mate!*
-Q- Whilst you've been on the firing range, we've
discovered what Spider is really up to.
They're going to mount an all out attack on the peace talks next month.
In the confusion that follows, they'll seize Military power in three of the world's most
unstable countries.
They'll hold the East and the West to ransom.
Overnight, they'll turn from being a counter espionage organisation to a political power.
-Q-
Pretty heavy stuff....
-Q- Fortunately, we've located their headquarters.
You must infiltrate their base swiftly and silently, shooting anyone who gets in your
way, before they raise the alarm.
-Q-
So the last task is to kill every damn person.
-Q- But our sources say there are 8 levels before
you come face to face with their leader in his inner sanctum.
You must use whichever the gun's modes are most suitable for each situation.
-Q-
Take note of that part.
Because it's an excellent example of wedging this whole backstory into pre-written game.
-Q- Right, now your mission briefing is waiting.
Read it carefully, but don't waste time.
-Q-
This is the point where we're also directed to read the accompanying briefing...
It says...
"Your holiday on Lord Bromley's Estate is over.
Report immediately to Q's undeground shooting range in Brentwood where you will undergo
a crash training course in three new weapons.
Q will judge your performance and he is instructed by the PM and myself to keep you there until
you have reached the required level of competence.
Then report to my office for instructions on Mission Zero.
M"
So really, we should have been told to read that in the last section.
It's very complicated keeping up with all these accessories. Especially when the instructions are out of sync.
It seems there was a lot of miscommunication when putting this pack together.
Let's dive into Mission Zero.
Now it might be called Mission Zero everywhere else, but in the game, it's very clearly just
the Living Daylights game, but with a couple of tweaks.
The original game wasn't light gun ready.
You just had to be quick with the cursor, however, this Mission Zero revision, is converted
for Light Gun use.
[AY pitter patter sounds]
It's also likely another reason, the Living Daylights was used rather than Licence to
Kill.
Licence to Kill is very much a game that could not be adapted for the light phaser, although the musical riffs were stolen for the audio tape...
[Bondy thing]
Whereas here we have a game that only needed a few tweaks and it was good to go.
It's also very loose on story.
Bond steams through all the levels as we fire at will.
They're all levels which represent a part of the film, but they could just about represent
the journey through to our new story line. If you squint a bit perhaps.
Using space to move Bond onwards, we're just gunning through, taking down bosses on each
level, before we take out the big military honcho at the end.
Who must now be playing the role of Spider's leader.
Although to be fair, running and gunning through a funfair takes a bit of explaining.
[Squeaking gun sounds]
But those aren't the only shoehorned inconsistencies.
On the first level, we've using a paintball gun.
Pretty sure our training didn't prepare us for that!
Then on the Theatre level, this chap (who is clearly supposed to be Koskov, the Russian
defecting agent) decides to run alongside us, despite Q distinctly telling us this was
a solo mission.
Then we have the item choice before each new level.
Remember Q telling us to choose the correct gun mode each time.
Well, apparently these symbols relate to the gun mode.
Pick the wrong one and your progression through the level will be hampered significantly.
It's trial and error, so nothing irritating about that whatsoever.
It doesn't help that although the item seems to relate to the level; for instance, you
need the binoculars for the Theatre.
You don't get told what level you're entering until AFTER picking the item.
Once you're in the level, shooting the 007 symbol will activate your selection.
Useful, say for the helicopter that pops up.
You remember that.... it's SPIDER's preferred mode of transport.... in the Living Daylights
"Oh come on! I was right at the end..."
its used as an escape vehicle for Koskov, but in this reality it's just another foe
to dispose of.
You can see they tried their best to fit things together.
[Squeaking gun]
Overall, it's not a terrible game, but it's odd.
The first 4 or so levels, you can sometimes just get away with holding space and pelting
through.
Which is good, because targetting accuracy seems way off.
Probably due to fudging it into a game that wasn't designed for it.
Sometimes it's fun to play.
Other times it's just plain annoying.
But I must commend them for selecting a game which both lightgun and a completely alternative
story can be forced upon, and it still kinda works.
There are no continues, so lose your lives and you're dead.
But if you do manage to complete the game, then.... well, you get exactly the same ending
as the Living Daylights, including the title splashed at the top.
It's clear that this was done as cheaply and quickly as possible.
I imagine they spent all their money on Desmond Llewelyn
It's a shame, because, other inconsistencies aside, it lets the bundle down.
[That bloomin' squeak again]
[Yup, more Bond-esq music]
So we have Mission Zero.
We have our completely new story-line about Spider wanting to disrupt peace talks and
then taking control of unstable countries.
But Bond has dealt with it once again.
Hurrah.
Apart from the in game inconsistencies, I actually quite like this new storyline devised
by Amstrad.
The original Living Daylights storyline was actually quite complicated for a Bond film.
It's actually 004 bites the biscuit in this one on a training exercise, supposedly by
the KGB, so then Bond helps a defecting KGB officer, Koskov, who turns out not to actually
be defecting, having found out from his apparent girlfriend, who then helps Bond find him,
and also an arms dealer who Koskov was setting up with the KGB to sell arms to, but not before
he bought opium off the Mujahideen, to make profit with the funds from the arms sales,
just after Bond pretends to shoot the General Pushkin of the KGB, who then fires Koskov
(who incidentally should be dead, after exploding in a fireball), just after Bond kills Whitaker,
who is the arms dealer.
*exasperated*
Also, the only reason the film is called The Living Daylights, was down to this line...
"Whoever she was, I must have scared the Living Daylights out of her"
so that's irrelevant from the go.
You can see why they went with this new storyline.
For the children.
And people like me.
Who like their James Bond stories to be simple, and easy to digest.
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Of course, this isn't the only James Bond set of games on the ZX Spectrum.
In fact most of these pre-Dalton games actually appeared at the end of the 80s and even early
90s.
They're mostly your typical run-and-gun, with the exception of the unofficial Octopussy,
which is very much an adventure game, and a departure for James Bond games in general.
It's also incredibly rare, so if you happen to have it.
Take good care of it.
If you wanted some more Dalton action, you could always get a Master System and play
Domark's 1993 entry, The Duel.
But what makes the Spectrum Action Pack stand out for me, is how well it played into the
imagination of these 8 bit titles.
Back then, we may not have had the graphics to produce huge, lush worlds.
But we had cover art, we had back-stories, and on the rare occasion, we even had props
to bring the whole experience to life.
That's exactly what the 007 Action Pack does, and even though it's a bit sloppy in places,
it's still a winner because of it.
[One last piece of Bond style music]
Anyway, I find this a fascinating bit of both Bond and Sinclair history, and so wanted to
share the whole damn experience with you.
I hope you've enjoyed it.
So thanks for watching, and have a great evening.
[Bond style music intensifies]