The Retro Critic


GoldenEye this, GoldenEye that…

It’s the Bond game everyone remembers and talks about.

But although I did, of course, play GoldenEye quite a bit back in the day, as well as the likes of Nightfire on the X-Box, the 007 game I always recall playing the most has to be The Duel, on the Sega Genesis.

Not based on any movie or novel, The Duel is basically the Timothy Dalton flick that never was. There were other Bond games prior to it, I’m thinking A View To A Kill on the Commodore 64…

That Licence To Kill overhead shooter on the Amiga.

And Operation Stealth, also on the Amiga…

Yes, Paul McCartney was James Bond back in the day.

What, you mean you don’t remember his one 007 outing “Live And Let It Be”?

For shame.

Oh, and that A View To A Kill text game doesn’t count.

Oh who am I kidding?

It totally counts!

There were several others but anyway, that was all before my time as a gamer so I’ll stick to talking about what I actually used to play: The Duel.

This was literally the only 007 game on the consoles I owned growing up so not only did I have to have it but I had to complete it! Somehow… Reason being that, as a Bond fan, I had to find out what the following levels had in store. So I kept playing and playing, even though if I’m honest, The Duel is one of the most annoying games I ever laid my thumbs on.

I mean, it’s not particularly bad or anything, it was just infuriating to play it through from start to finish.

Which I guess… makes it a bit bad?

I remember starting the game, going down this ladder into the water and…

I hit Jaws.

And not the kind that makes sense.

That happens later.

Already the game was being a jerk.

The first level’s on a boat, you’re trying to save a bunch of lady hostages (who I  think are the grown-up versions of the little girls Michael Jackson saved in Moonwalker) before blowing everything up and getting the hell out of there. Easier said than done, trust me. In this game, enemies show up out of nowhere and shoot you before you even have the time to take your gun out of your tux. Oh sure you can hide in doorways, which looks kinda cool for a second:

But as soon as you step out: You’re toast.

You also can’t jump down from too high or you’ll die and when you do, it means you have to get rid of the same exact enemies all over again. Usually what would happen is I’d do that about 20 times in a row then I’d try to fly through the level at break-neck speed but fail uncontrollably (this is hardly the type of game where you can do that), I’d get worse and worse until finally I’d decide to take my time, going at it as stealthily as possible.

Which is exhausting.

The next level is the jungle. But not just any jungle: GIANT-ASS TREE JUNGLE!

Ok, either I’m 6 inches tall or those veiny penis trees are mad old.

Like, dinosaur old.

Yes, I said penis trees.

Am I wrong?

There, you get to fight the bad guy from The Princess And The Frog and Live And Let Die who keeps throwing knives at you:

Basically all you’re meant to do there is crouch down and shoot him in the groin until he literally explodes.

The level ends with you fighting off a plane like it’s Die Hard 4.0 and blowing things up, of course. What doesn’t blow up in this game?

Along the way you bump into old friends OddJob (who I’m pretty sure died like 15 movies ago) and even…

May Day?


You infiltrate that dastardly underground lair and battle Jaws (again), who goes all Dr Robotnik for whatever reason and starts attacking you with some sort of weird crane/robot thing.

It all ends with you making out with one of the hostages in true sexist Bond fashion.


Which is both kinda awesome as a last image and kinda ass.

I mean, it’s like someone asked their 4 year-old kid:

“What’s a James Bond? Here’s Photoshop 1.0, ANSWER ME!”

Guns? Check. Women? Check. Cars? Check. Background and perspective?

That’s how developed 007 was as a character back in the day, people.


Here’s a game which I played over and over purely because I had no Bond alternative. Oh sure, James Pond was around and was badass but I didn’t have it then and besides, it wasn’t quite the same now was it? I wanted a solid 007 game and what I got… was The Duel.

I did genuinely like parts of it: The music, the sound effects, the villains, the general look of the game. It was just needlessly restrictive in terms of gameplay, you felt like you couldn’t do anything without dying at least 10 times beforehand. I mean, I get trial and error type of games need to exist and I don’t usually mind it if they’re done well but here you just feel like the game’s purposely being an irritating piece of Never Say Never Again just to piss you off and in the end that comes off as sadistic at best. Otherwise the game’s pretty short, there are no cut scenes moving the narrative forward and not much variety in terms of the levels themselves. This feels like one of Bond’s pre-titles sequence mini-missions not a proper, world-is-in-real-peril super-spy adventure.

I’d say The Duel evens out to an overall pretty average gaming experience.

Nothing special but maybe worth a go if only to hear that fab, bit-tastic Bond Theme.

Then there’s the Master System version which does pretty much the same thing as its Genesis bro but feels much more cartoonish in its approach. When you kill someone or free a hostage they don’t just blink off into nothing, they float away like they’re birthday balloons. The pace of the game is a bit faster, a good thing, and visually it’s decent enough for the console which really suggests that the Genesis version should have looked WAY better because as it stands: They look basically the same. I’d actually recommend the Master System one too. Sure it has its share of silly moments…

But it’s a Bond game, it would suck if it wasn’t at least a little bit goofy.

Am I right super old 007 text game?

I love you super old 007 text game.

*The RetroCritic and the game make out*