You have to give credit where credit is due. Outside of its twin program, Austin Powers: Welcome to my Underground Lair!, there’s really nothing at all like Austin Powers: Oh, Behave! available on any portable system. After spending some time with both of them, I’ve come to the conclusion that’s an incredibly good thing because if there’s one thing the world doesn’t need, it’s another way to play Rock-Paper-Scissors. But if there are two things the world doesn’t need, the other is any more reasons to hate Mike Meyers. Oh, Behave! gives us both, which is good only in that it gives me something simple to complain about for the next few paragraphs before I go back to the real world and worry about serious issues for the rest of the evening. Let’s hear it for catharsis!
Released in September of 2000, a scant few months before the end of the 20th century, Austin Powers: Oh, Behave! casts the player as a new recruit for MOD. Before being accepted, you need to pass an interview with Mr. Powers that consists of a few simple questions about topics such as your name, gender (if you’re not sure, that’s OK–MOD is a forward-thinking organization), where you live, your preferred activities, and a choice of partners for your secret missions. You know, just like the last time you applied for a position at the local branch of British intelligence (we read your application Steve, and it’s a miracle you weren’t deported with extreme prejudice).
After this, it’s off to save the day by playing virtual office secretary! Wait, what?! Yes, see, as it turns out MOD already has one Austin Powers. They don’t need another dashing rogue on the hunt for a great shag in the field. So instead of doing something useful, like working to bring down Doctor Evil in his Underground Lair, you’ll instead be doing mundane tasks like changing your virtual wallpaper, calculating basic math on your Shagulator! (it’s a calculator with a vaguely naughty name), or sending messages to other International Indeterminately-Gendered-Persons of Mystery (ie: friends who, like you, were dumb enough to have spent money on this product). Got a Game Boy Printer? Then you can do basic word processing using Austin’s Pad and print the results. Before you all rush out to buy one, I should remind you that the Game Boy Color does not feature any sort of keyboard attachment, so I wouldn’t rely on this communication method exclusively.
If that’s too much excitement for you, log on to the virtual internet world contained within the cart (obligatory 56k dial-up noise included), and browse some websites that serve to explain, in only the most rudimentary form, the plots of the first two Austin Powers films. Yes, that’s right, you spent your hard-earned money on what amounts to a commercial for two spy spoofs. Mother would be so proud.
Developer Tarantula Software did at least have the courtesy to program a couple of games into this Game Boy Color cartridge, but they’re only of the most basic sort. The afore-mentioned Rock, Paper, Scissors game is mildly amusing, allowing you to pick an enemy from a small array of characters from the Austin Powers films, and play a friendly best-of-three match…assuming you can get the timing down. You have a very short period with which to pick which symbol you’re going to throw, and MOD help you if you decide to throw too early or too late, because that’s an automatic victory for the other side. Not cool, baby, not cool.
There’s a 2D platforming game where you guide Austin through a number of levels, dodging and shooting such menaces as police hats, soccer balls and traffic cones as you go about the business of being the “International Man in a Platform Game” by collecting things like guns, glasses, and Union Jack flags. This might be fun if there was no such thing as Commander Keen or Jazz Jackrabbit which had done just this sort of thing, only better, ten years earlier. There’s a reasonably competent Othello clone once you get tired of losing to rubbish bins in the platform game. And if that’s not enough, there’s also “Mojo Maze” which really, really wants to be Pac-Man with an Austin Powers theme and somehow manages to completely fail at even this simple task.
Austin Powers: Oh, Behave! isn’t a game so much as it is, and I cannot stress this enough, a mistake. It’s the sort of thing one expects to find on a CD-ROM cereal companies give away in conjunction with a promotional tie-in to some film or cartoon. And if it was free, you get what you pay for, no harm, no foul. But here’s the problem: the Austin Powers franchise is aimed at a teen-and-up audience, not the children for which this game was clearly designed. It’s a computer desktop simulation running on your Game Boy Color, which means that if you’re emulating it, you’re using a desktop computer to emulate a Game Boy which is emulating a desktop computer, and my head just exploded because that’s the dumbest thing I’ve written this year. I know gaming’s come along way, but expecting people to pay money for this even fourteen years ago, is tantamount to insanity. Even in late 2000, there were better ways to spend $30 of your hard-earned money so that you could beam messages to your friends across the ether. And you could find all kinds of ways to kill time that were more entertaining than swapping out the wallpaper or browsing the internet on your virtual computer–like, I dunno, swapping out the wallpaper or browsing the internet on your actual desktop computer maybe?
If reading this got you feeling all randy, if Austin Powers: Oh, Behave! sounds like your bag, if that makes you horny, baby, and ready for a right good shag because you just found your mojo, then all I can say is I hope I never meet you in real life, and I pray to MOD you never encounter Mike Meyers either. God save the Queen.