In your average James Bond flick the suave British secret agent dispatches countless goons and bad guys without batting an eyelid, but if Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto had had his way, the best Bond video game of all time wouldn't have contained a single death.
Speaking at the ongoing GameCity event in Nottingham, England, GoldenEye 007 designer Martin Hollis revealed that the legendary Japanese developer had serious reservations about the amount of violence in the N64 shooter, which, to be fair, was a pretty radical departure for the family-friendly Nintendo:
Bond is a violent franchise and making that fit with Nintendo, which is very much family-friendly, was a challenge. For a while we had some gore, it was just a flipbook of about 40 textures, beautifully rendered gore that would explode out. When I saw it the first time, I thought it was awesome, it was a fountain of blood, like that moment in the Shining when the lift doors open. Then I thought, hmm, this might be a bit too much red.
So much red in fact that Miyamoto felt compelled to send a fax with some suggestions for the game:
One point was that there was too much close-up killing – he found it a bit too horrible. I don't think I did anything with that input. The second point was, he felt the game was too tragic, with all the killing. He suggested that it might be nice if, at the end of the game, you got to shake hands with all your enemies in the hospital.
While the suggestion seems laughable, it did spur Hollis to include a credits sequence which showed all of the characters - including the soldiers and other other enemy units - as if they were actors in a proper Bond movie:
It was very filmic, and the key thing was, it underlined that this was artifice. The sequence told people that this was not real killing.
Hollis is quick to point out that while not all of Nintendo's feedback on the game was helpful, his development and design ethos was shaped by the Japanese veteran:
I studiously tried to learn what Nintendo was. I played [Zelda] Link to the Past from beginning to end – I got all the hearts and all but two of the quarter hearts. I could write a 1000 pages about that game. Then Mario 64 came out during the development of GoldenEye and we were clearly influenced by that game. Ours was much more open as a result.
I value the idea – which I do see as quite strongly a Japanese idea – of respect to the player and trying to see into their mind and their life. We have jargon for it nowadays: 'user-centric design'. Nintendo thought about where the player would be when they played the game and who would be with them at the time.