Goldeneye was one of the first games I purchased for the Nintendo 64 with my own money. I knew nothing of the game’s content, only that I was starved for software on my new console, and it was a title ‘people’ said I should play. They were right.
The game was developed exclusively by Rare for the Nintendo 64 using the James Bond license for a then 2 year old movie. I never cared for James Bond and probably would have avoided the game for that reason alone, but I was a teenager without an opinion of my own, regurgitating what I heard or read. Thankfully it worked in my favor. Goldeneye was a game I played for years, and still enjoy going back to every now and then today. Many people have fond memories of the game, but I’ve found they’re pure nostalgia. Almost no aspect of the game holds up now save for the structure. But at the time, it was lightning in a bottle.
Goldeneye was so successful not because of the Jame Bond license, but because it was the first of its kind. PC gamers had known the joy of first-person shooters for years at this point (Doom, Wolfenstein, etc.), but none had ever been attempted on a home console. It’s almost hard to believe considering how the genre has risen to amazing heights of popularity today (Call of Duty). In 1997, Goldeneye could have only existed on the N64. The console had four ports for multiplayer, an analog stick, and most importantly, a trigger. Since the success of this game, every console manufacturer has incorporated those elements in some way or another.
Every attempt to revisit the concept has been met with mediocre success at best. Publishers never understood (and in my opinion still don’t) what the allure of the game was. There have been a few different Bond games since then, and none save for Agent Under Fire (which had mixed reviews) failed to do much. In 2010 Activision remade Goldeneye for the Nintendo Wii, released as Goldeneye 007 and eventually released as Goldeneye 007: Reloaded for the X360 and PS3. Even with this classic and likeness/voice of Daniel Craig, the game failed to perform. I think the final nail in the coffin for Goldeneye was the original Halo for the Xbox in 2001, taking the concept of multiplayer and multiplying it (by 4).
Goldeneye had an amazing mission structure. Each level feature 3 difficult settings; Agent, Secret Agent, and 00-Agent. As the difficult increased, not only did the difficulty rise with it, but more mission objectives were added, including penalties for killing civilians. One of the best features of the game (which sadly I haven’t seen replicated many times since) were the cheats. Each level had an unlockable cheat, activated by completely all objectives for a certain difficult and under a time limit. The difficulty and time limit varied per level. Cheats could be activated for any level, but negated the chance to unlock more while being used. Some were helpful, like All Guns, Infinite Ammo, or Invisibility. Others were nonsensical fun like Big Head Mode, or my favorite, Paintball Mode.
By far the most infamous cheat was Invincibility. Level two, the Facility, needed to be complete on the 00-Agent setting in 2:05. What made this task so hard was locating an NPC. He could be in 1 of 6 locations, randomly. Every location save one removed him far from your path, making the goal impossible. Look here for an example. I’m proud to say I unlocked every cheat in Goldeneye.
I would be remissed if I didn’t discuss the multiplayer. 4-player splitscreen. The first of its kind. There were many different settings and game types, allowing endless hours of replay-ability. It was fun to run around using slappers (no weapons, Judo chop only), golden gun (one hit kills), or rocket launchers. Many gamers learned to watch their friend’s screen, giving them an unfair advantage. People would split the video output to multiple televisions, covering the other screens with cardboard. Or this.
Random fact 1: There was a single player setting that allowed you to play the game with two controllers. Rather than using the C-buttons, the analog stick on the 2nd controller would replace them. Playing like this made you look like some mad wizard. It was awesome.
Random fact 2: A cheat missing from the final version was All Bonds, unlocking the likeness of all previous Bond actors for multiplayer. While the feature was left in the game, the ability to unlock it was removed. Rare couldn’t secure the rights for Sean Connery (surprising). However, with a Gameshark, you could easily unlock the cheat.
Random fact 3: That island across the water at the end of the level 1, the Dam, was originally part of the game. It was removed to allow the game to ship on time. Again, with a Gameshark, it’s reachable (basically allowing you to walk on water). What’s over there? A whole lot of nothing.
Technology has evolved, leaving Goldeneye behind. If you were at right age to experience it though, you’ll never forget it. While it’s true you can never go home, it’s worth it to dust off an N64 and get a few rounds of multiplayer with a few like minded people.
What was your favorite not-the-Facility level? What character of normal height did you use in multiplayer? Comment below!