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Mission Zero "The Living Daylights" (ZX Spectrum)

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Mission Zero was made in 1990 by Walking Circles for the ZX Spectrum. They used their non light gun game The Living Daylights and slapped light gun controls on top of it. The name Mission Zero can just be found on the tape. In the game itself the loading screen and other references all say The Living Daylights. Most notable the ending screen refers to the story arc of The Living Daylights rather than being adapted to Q's intro message which came with the game on the same cassette and which I will play at the end of the review. Mission Zero is the third game of the James Bond Action Pack which included a ZX Spectrum +2A micro computer and other objects.

In the game's story the MI6 found out Spiders plan while James Bond was training with the new weapon, which he received in the game "Q's Armoury" which I reviewed in episode 163. Spider intends to attack upcoming international peace talks and then wants to gain control over some instable countries while the public is distracted. Luckily the MI6 found the headquarters of Spider. Bond is sent to a one man mission which should allow him to sneak inside without setting off an alarm. As the contents of the game weren't adapted what so ever this story of course isn't fitting at all. Q mentions that Bond should shoot everyone he encounters, while the game wants the player to use a paintball gun and tranquilizer darts, as it tightly follows the plot of the movie The Living Daylights.

Mission Zero is a protection light gun game similarly to Guillermo Tell, Crossbow or the home version of Laser Ghost. What makes this game unique however is that the player controls Bond's movements by pressing the space bar. Furthermore the weapon can be changed to an alternative weapon or an item by shooting the bottom right corner of the screen. These objects are obtained in-between levels. The player is presented four objects at a time and has five seconds to select one. Often one of the items will be of importance in the next level and the player has to find out which one by trial and error.

The game consists of eight levels: A match of paintball against the British military, streets in front of a theater, an industrial complex, the entrance to a mansion, a fair, a train, a military complex and finally the private house of the main villain.

The hit detection technically works almost the same way as in the other two games of the James Bond Action Pack. The main difference is that the screen flashes up for one frame in the beginning to allow the player to aim for the black bottom of the screen. In Mission Zero it's very difficult to hit certain objects as for the very small and seemingly misplaced hit boxes. This makes certain enemies and levels very frustrating. Especially the balloon shooting and the train level are very demanding. There are no continues and once the player dies the game has to be started all over again.

Mission Zero is incompatible to the ZX Spectrum 48K and ZX Spectrum+ 128K because of the "Fire Play the game" start screen. In my experience just machines of the +3 type, such as the +2A and the +2B are able to pass this screen. I don't own a genuine, 1986, grey +2 machine to test and would love to hear your experiences in the comments. As of making this video Mission Zero seems to be incompatible with all common ZX Spectrum emulators. Like the other games of the James Bond Action Pack, Mission Zero just accepts light guns which connect to the BT auxiliary socket. The Cheetah Defender doesn't work well with the game.

Mission Zero is my least favorite game of the James Bond Action Pack. It might be the best looking and sounding game of the bunch, but under this surface is a lazy, barely playable mess. Personally I think Domark should have dropped the plan to make the story of the three games in the James Bond Action Pack overlapping. The idea is nice, but forcing three independent games together with too less of an effort is just plain embarrassing. Especially Mission Zero's The Living Daylights core sticks out too much. That not even the text of the ending screen was changed is shocking. Maybe the hit detection is deliberately awful in order to artificially increase the difficulty to ensure very few people will notice their lack of effort.