James Bond : The Duel was released on the Sega Genesis and its 8bit relative, the Master System in 1993 by Domark, which no longer exists as a game creator. Domark actually produced a long list of games before being swallowed by Edios software, with Klax and Desert Strike being among their more notable releases. They also produced video game adaptations of A View to a Kill, 007: License to Kill, The Spy who Loved Me and The Living Daylights, so it’s probably safe to say that they know their shit when it comes to James Bond video games.
The game stars Timothy Dalton in his last ever role as 007. Now, there have been a bunch of non-cannon James Bond games released over the years, but this one is the first non-cannon game ever to be released. It features an original story-line and a bunch of familiar villains from the Bond universe. Or does that make it cannon? That word has always confused me. Anyway, all things considered, it’s a pretty good representation of sex-machine-with-a-gun secret agent 007, it was just never a film or novel. Though I have to admit that Bond is quite fragile, and can be taken out with a couple of hits. Thankfully it is not a case of a the dreaded one-hit-kills as so many games from this era were guilty of.
The boss characters are all villains from the bond universe, as opposed to a brand-spanking new evil genius to deal with. While that is kind of cool, I would have liked at least one new villain. But then again, when you’re trying to sell a licensed game it’s important to have a cast of easily recognizable characters. No one would buy a Jurassic Park game if it didn’t have any dinosaurs.
The likeness of Bond is unmistakable, even if it is simple a guy in a black tux with a hair cut so suave it almost redefines the word itself. His main weapon is his pistol (innuendo unintended) which he uses to take down anything that stands in his way. The game is a lot more action orientated than the films actually were, but then an 8bit game about tapping phone lines and sneaking around would probably get really boring, really quick.
All in all it’s a decent little game. Nothing amazing, but not horrible either. I’m actually surprised that more James Bond games weren’t released on 8bit systems as James Bond is a brilliant character to have running-and-gunning though 8bit levels.