“Why Save the World When You Can Rule It…”
The James Bond film franchise might just be the very definition of the term “problematic fave.” On the one hand; it’s impossible to overlook the rampant sexism, racism, and glorification of aggressive masculinity all on display in what are considered the classic entries of the series. On the other hand… well, there’s just something about them, isn’t there? They manage to present action movie shlock as polished art, and pass off some of the most objectively goofy of plots and premises as espionage intrigue. And so, it’s with some hesitation that I have to admit to being a fan of the film series, and to having watched [and re-watched] every last one of its currently twenty-four entries.
But there’s more to the 007 brand than just the movies. Obviously, there’s the matter of the original novels that inspired the films in the first place, if written word is your cup of tea. Somehow though, I doubt you’ve come to this article for one of my book reviews. Yes, we’re obviously here to discuss the matter of James Bond video games, which have taken on something like a life of their own outside of the respective film series. Why, with software starring the world-famous spy starting to appear as early as 1982, you could argue that the history of the Bond games franchise is nearly as long and storied as that of the movie franchise! (For something like a look at pre-GoldenEye Bond games, might I recommend B.J. Brown’s article on James Bond 007 The Duel?) And of course – as is the case with any franchise as long-running as that – there are bound to be a few duds and misfires along the way.
Today we set our sights on 2004’s GoldenEye: Rogue Agent: A title which dared to invoke the sacred name of the game franchise’s most cherished entry. Naturally, we’ll have to at least briefly discuss that particular bit of inspiration and what made it so special to begin with, as well as the range of releases that came in-between. Once we get all that sorted, we’ll be get into the messy business of dissecting what might well be the most reviled release in the 30-plus year history of the 007 video game series, and where exactly it went wrong. Do you reckon that’s enough material for one article? Well, sod that: I say the world is not enough for the Bad Game Hall of Fame, so we’ll also cover Rogue Agent’s handheld conversion too, and a bizarre bit of game franchise-crossover that came with that. As an on-screen comedy duo once quipped; “They always said the pen was mightier than the sword.” “Thanks to me, they were right.”
Or twenty-five, if you wanna count Never Say Never Again. Hey, say what you will about it, but at least it’s not Live and Let Die.