Ok, let's Begin!
James Bond 007: The Duel (007:TD) was made by the Kremlin, O the irony, and published by Domark in 1992 for Sega Megadrive in the UK. Why am I been this specific you may ask? Well, it's the only date I can both corroborate with the game box and other sources. As depending on region 007:TD was either released in 1992 or 1993. It was also released on the Master System and Game Gear in Europe and N. America. Tengen also published it for Japan but only the Megadrive version under the title 007: Shito. It was also seemingly published by Tec Toy for S. America in 1992 as well. This was the last Bond game that Domark published and apparently is also technical the last story of Timothy Dalton's Bond released some 3/4 years after "Licence to Kill".
Ok if you don't have the manual then this is going to be incredibly helpful. A Mad Professor by the name of Gravemar has attacked a secret international satellite launch centre on a remote island in the Caribbean. Having taken control of the facility, Gravemar plans to launch a satellite in order to take over the world! How exactly, the manual doesn't go into 🧐. Apparently just lunching a satellite into orbit is the equivalent of planting a flag and saying this is mine now. Gravemar been the mad "genius" he is, has come to the conclusion that this might upset some people and has desperately built a cloning machine. He has done this presumably because he was forewarned that 007 was after him and has reproduced some of 007's deadliest adversaries. Hostages are been held on the island to deter outside intervention as well as numerous henchmen who have orders to shoot anyone on site. 007 must find and free the hostages, then destroy the facility by planting timed explosives. Q has also managed to plant some special weapons (grenades) packages in various locations to assist in 007's mission.
The animation in this game is surprisingly good for a Megadrive game, not that I'm saying it wasn't possible but there are unusual levels of detail here, especially on 007. He walks, runs, jumps, crouches, climbs stairs and ladders, switches hands when turning side to side, hides in alcoves, hangs from objects, jumps down through platforms and even reloads not to mention he can shoot in six different axis that's a hell of a lot for one sprite.
The sound in this game is quite good but nothing particularly special there wasn't any memorable level tunes although there is quite a good 16bit rendition of the classic Bond tune. There is however one particular sound that does make me chuckle and that is the sound of the henchmen dying, I know I'm sick, but seriously they sound really off its like instead of been shot they got gut-punched instead. Speaking of deaths, going back to 007, see what happens to him when you get near the sharks on the first level. The premise is gruesome but it's laughable that they put that much effort into 007's death animation.
007: TD is a decent platformer and although 007's flying spinning leap is a bit off-putting as your sure every iteration of him would probably have a slipped disc pulling that off once, let alone the multitude of times required to get around these levels, he does have a wonderfully meaty thud on landing with the physics feels right for human jumping. There's plenty of climbing, hanging, jumping down and satisfying timing moments to please most platformer gamers. The levels in 007:TD are also quite colourful and portray the overall feel of what you see on the overview map of the island.
007:TD has no in-game plot, not even a thinly veiled one. The game starts, you select your difficultly and your off. At best you may be able to gather that 007's here to stop some big bad but without the manual, you're going to struggle to piece anything together here. It doesn't help that there's no mission briefings or dialogue with any of the villains, which in itself is a shame due to the fact that Bond is usually about plot and dialogue with delightful adversaries. If you do have the manual then good for you, you'll actually have some semblance of what's going on, rather than anyone else who could just as easily come to the conclusion that 007's final snapped and has gone on an island rampage
The game itself is quite short and is even smaller than initially thought. Most games have a level or group of levels then a boss, alas 007:TD does not. 007:TD has five levels and only two bosses. There are other high up henchmen and women you'll see but, actually, you don't need to defeat them. They act very similar to the usual goons you shoot through the level, with the exception that they have different moves and need a lot more shots to take down. They're more like coming across a different enemy type than an actual boss. The only genuine boss battles come in the form of Jaws at the end, who is the fifth stage, and Professor Gravemar at least who I can assume to be him as there is no actual UI to tell you who these enemies are. I only consider Gravemar a boss due to the fact that you can't escape the level until you actually defeat him, as he bars the way to the exit of the level. It's not like he has any fanfare or change of background music he just shows up in front of you and starts firing lasers at you.
Another annoying thing about 007:TD is its scenery and I'm not saying the pixel art is crummy it's just confusing at times and some times it's clearly put there to be a trap. I'm talking about enemies hiding behind foreground objects that appear as though they're a part of the background. What's annoying most of all is you probably won't even see it coming, you'll step up a ladder and suddenly get shot out of seemingly nowhere. When that happens if you're like me you'll start unloading bullets right and left just to make sure your definitely clear.
A minor annoyance of 007:TD is that you can run out of ammo. Now when I played this wasn't a major problem as ammo was relatively common and as long as you don't go overboard with your running and gunning you'll still be able to defeat everyone on the level. However if you ever somehow run out of ammo then you, my friend, are 100% boned. For all 007's wonderful animation the developers forgot to give 007 any kind of melee ability. Meaning for the most part you are not going to be able to fight any enemy unless you find Q's special ammo stash. This is because the majority of your ammo is actually dropped by the enemies you kill. It just boggles belief when the developer put so much into 007 animations that they forgot to add a karate chop or punch attack. I mean bond does use his fists in the movies, quite a lot actually. 🤯
Nerd O Meter Rating
High 3 out of 5
007:TD is actually quite an annoying game to review if I'm honest. There is clearly effort in the programming of the sprites, physics, music and level design of it, but there are also areas that seem to have been aggravatingly ignored. The none existent in-game plot or the lazily added iconic henchmen Yoyo, Bones, Odd Job and Jaws. Considering they are supposed to be iconic you'd think the developers would have gone to the trouble of giving each of them a unique stage or area within the level much like the movies themselves give them scenes and set pieces. That been said the game plays very well and does a good job at making Bond into a platformer and because of this I've given it it's over average rating. It's a shame though as I feel that if these major areas had been worked on with as much passion as the sprite animation then this game could easily have been a five or high 4. Do I recommend 007:TD? Yes definitely, not only is it technically the last outing of Timothy Dalton's Bond but the game feels good to play and has some rather hilarious moments with 007's death animations. It is also not a simple reach the end goal kind of game and instead it relies more on a treasure hunt approach with the hostages so if you like that style of play then give it a look.