Two of the original developers of the movie tie-in title reflect on producing the 1989 computer game...

Making The Licence To Kill Game

12th December 2011

Two months before the film opened, the computer game adaptation of "Licence To Kill" hit store shelves in April 1989 for IBM PC, Amiga 500/600, Commodore C64/128, Spectrum 48K, Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit and Atari ST. In terms of platform support, it still remains one of the widest released 007 titles ever.

Chris West - Programmer

Can you give the readers a bit of insight as to how License to Kill was created?
"Licence to Kill" was developed by a company called Quixel. The development team consisted of Tony (my twin brother and the graphics artist), myself and two chaps from Domark. It was a six month project from start to finish and great fun all the way. We had early scripts to work from and slides of some of the scenes they had shot up to then. At the time we started work, they had only filmed the opening sequence, hence most of the game is based around that part. We got invited to Pinewood a couple of times to watch early versions of the film and met Mr. Broccoli there. The game took virtually 10 hours a day every day for the six months to do with four coders each – one for each platform and Tony doing all the graphics. A little known fact is that the Amstrad and Spectrum versions were actually written by Raph Cecco. We even managed to get License to kill done ahead of schedule.

 

What happened to the unreleased NES version of Licence to Kill?
There was a NES version being written by Simon Nicol who created Mega Apocalypse on the Commodore 64. Among others, I remember going down to see him in Brighton after we had finished all the other versions of "Licence to Kill" with all the graphics and stuff.

 

He had most of the game done; he was just missing the last level at that time. I believe it was finished but Domark didn’t think it was worth releasing because it was finished quite a time after the release of the film and in those days you had to pay a lot of money up front before Nintendo would make the cartridges. So Domark abandoned it.

Are you still in the video games industry?
We’re still coding away, been doing this for about 20 years now for various companies – Domark, DI, Virgin, Ubisoft and Empire.

How creative did one have to be to design the levels for "Licence to Kill"?
It was a challenge when we only had the script to work with, but once we saw some slides we pretty much knew what we wanted to do, the last level was done in a day if I remember rightly. After we saw the film, we felt we needed to add the tankers in.

When the game came out, what did the general public think of it?
It got average reviews. It was said to be the best Bond game to date so that was good. It got between 60% and 85% in most magazines – wasn’t stunning but wasn’t rubbish either.

Paul Margave - Programmer

What was the highlight of working on the game?
For "Licence to Kill" we got to go along to the preview of the film at Pinewood Studios. We saw the final cut of the film, some scenes and the music was missing. I even saw Mr. Broccoli there as well.

How enjoyable was your experience when you were creating Bond games?
It was quite a laugh really; we were based in a small office out in Ottershaw, Surrey. We had a pub over the road - it used to get fights in it sometimes, but not us. Everyone who worked there was really down to earth.

It could get stressful toward the end, bug finding, late nights... 24 hour shifts were not unheard of. We were always rushing to finish them, in those days you tried to have the game finished within six months.

 

What were some more challenging parts of coding the James Bond games?
Memory in those days was tight, all those platforms had meager amounts compared with today’s consoles, the entire game, graphics and sound would have to fit in the space of one ‘texture’ in today’s games.

Thanks to 'Lethal Weapon'

Recent Articles - Gaming
Game Over For Activision
Release Trailer
007 Legends Website Launch
007 Legends Announced
Making The Licence To Kill Game
Octopussy (1983)
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded