Monday, November 8, 2010

Just Like the Moonraker Goes

I've spent the last week or so playing and greatly enjoying the remake of GoldenEye 007 on Wii. I'll post some more elaborate thoughts in a few days (don't worry, I have absolutely no intention of getting into gaming criticism, but you know me and James Bond; I just gotta talk about him), but in the meantime I've been thinking about which other Bond films might make for great games, and it occurred to me that while most films since the 90s have been adapted and even the Connery era was revived for 2005's From Russia With Love, the Moore era remains untapped.

At first I was thinking of The Spy Who Loved Me, which has a lot of action and several showdowns with Jaws, but on the flip side the entire first half of the game would be set in Egypt and the entire second half in the ocean and on submarines and tankers, which worked perfectly for the movie but might get a little monotonous in playable form. Most other Moore films are similarly chopped in two, with Live and Let Die moving from New York City to Louisiana, Octopussy from India to Germany, and A View to a Kill from Paris to San Francisco, while The Man With the Golden Gun barely leaves Hong Kong. For Your Eyes Only moves around more but it's also the talkiest of the Moore era (which isn't to say it's not a great movie, but it doesn't lend itself seamlessly to a game adaptation). But it occurred to me that 1979's Moonraker, while not one of the better Bond films, could make for a rad game.

They wouldn't even need to reinterpret that much of the narrative to do it. Perhaps they could expand Bond's mostly unseen pre-credits mission in Africa which culminates with Jaws attacking him on an airplane into a full opening level, and maybe even find a way to tie it to Drax's theft of the Moonraker shuttle, but after that they could largely follow the arc of the film. I mean, they would need to "game it up" some by working in some new shootouts and a couple additional set pieces, but the structure is largely there. Next Bond would go to Drax Industries in California, meet Hugo Drax and Dr. Holly Goodhead, avoid / kill Drax's anonymous assassins, and find evidence of Drax's laboratory in Venice. (As a side note, I never understood why the filmmakers set Drax's chateau in California rather than some more exotic European locale in France or something. But oh well, it is what it is. I guess California is exotic to some people.)

In Venice, you'd have Drax's henchmen attempt to kill Bond in the canals just like in the movie, but maybe expand it into more of a full-blown shootout through the streets, buildings, and, mirroring the film, finally Saint Mark's Square, followed by a more-stealth oriented level where Bond sneaks into Drax's laboratory, obtains new evidence, and has a showdown with Drax's henchman Chang in the museum which leads to a fatal culmination in the nearby clock tower. Then Bond could again meet Holly Goodhead, who reveals she's an undercover CIA agent investigating Drax. Next, Rio de Janeiro, where Bond's encounters with Jaws during the parade and on the cable cars could be lifted wholesale from the film, albeit led into or capped off with more elaborate levels.

Then off to the Amazon to find the rare orchid Drax is manufacturing his toxin from, starting with a a stealth level set in the jungle, followed by a boat ride down the Amazon River and another showdown with Jaws at Iguacu Falls, then a journey through the Aztec complex (shades of the secret level in the original GoldenEye 007 for N64 here), and finally a story sequence where Drax captures Bond and Holly and explains his plan in classic Bond villain style. Then, following the film exactly, Bond and Holly could escape, sneak through Drax's base (all playable, of course), steal the uniforms of and pose as henchmen, and stow away on one of the Moonraker shuttles as it blasts into outer space.

The climactic mission would begin with sneaking through Drax's space fortress, subduing guards and trying to broadcast a message to the CIA. The message is sent, the space marines (!!) arrive, and the giant CIA vs. Drax Industries laser gun battle ensues, which unfolds without Bond in the movie but in gaming form would definitely necessitate strapping on an astronaut suit, heading out an airlock, and getting in on that shit. As in the film, Jaws would turn to the side of good at this point, and Bond would team up with him for the final on-foot level as he makes his way through the exploding space station towards the final duel with Hugo Drax. And in the last stage of the game, just like the film, Bond and Holly would hijack a Moonraker shuttle and shoot all of Drax's toxic capsules out of the sky before they breach earth's atmosphere. End with the "I think he's attempting re-entry, sir!" scene taken verbatim from the film and you got a badass game.

With Bernard Lee long passed they'd need to find a vocal mimic for M, but Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale could easily come back and voice James Bond, Holly Goodhead, and Hugo Drax (to mention Richard Kiel for Jaws' one and only line). Give all this to the development team behind GoldenEye Wii and you'd have retro Bond fanservice that goes above and beyond. Basically, a Moonraker game must happen.


Anonymous said...

I've often mulled over a possible James Bond video game based on the movies. While I don't begrudge the video game industry on spinning original stories for 007, I can't believe they haven't taken advantage of the numerous situations in the films. From Russia with Love tried, but it was a rather shallow experience that tried too hard to make every scene a set piece.

Like you, I've wondered which film would make the best game, and I'm of the opinion that they should just make one colossal tribute compilation. Just put all of the "best moments" into one game. Forget a story. Bizarre idea, but I think it would be fun. Thoughts?


I would definitely enjoy such a game, but problem is that is that it just wouldn't be commercially viable - games like Lego Star Wars/Indiana Jones/Harry Potter can be made because of how iconic their mythologies have become, but outside of Goldfinger and the laser, the average joe doesn't really know or care about any specific moments from any pre-90s Bond movie. A game like you've mentioned would have an ultra-niche audience of you and me maybe a few hundred thousand other people.

Anonymous said...

Haha. I guess you're right. I'm just dying to be able to play around in the Piz Gloria or climb up that Grecian church. Oh well. I agree with you, though. Moonraker would make a great game. I also think OHMSS and Octopussy would have the easiest translation into a playable format.