In the latest entry in this series we have Nintendo Life newcomer Steven Smith (@N64Memories) talking about GoldenEye 007; no, not that one on Wii, but the N64 original.
GoldenEye 007 was my first true experience of a first-person shooter (FPS). Yes, I had played Doom – a classic, of course – but at twelve years old I didn't really appreciate how great it was, instead sticking to racing games and 2D platformers. My memory may betray me here (and feel free to correct me in the comments below) but I don't remember GoldenEye arriving with any major hype – at least not on the scale of Ocarina of Time or Super Mario 64. I was excited for it because I had loved the film and it appeared like I would be able to immerse myself in its world.
From its release, playing GoldenEye became an obsession outside of school hours for the rest of 1997 and probably most of 1998. This is because it took me many months to finally unlock 007 Mode and the Egyptian level. It has since become the most re-played game I own, out-beating so-called "better" N64 games as well as classics for the SNES, Game Boy and non-Nintendo consoles. But why is that?
I cannot deny that a large reason for returning to it is the wonderful memories it evokes. For example, those gut-churning moments protecting Natalya in Control on 00 Agent. Or that summer of '97 when myself and three friends remained pasty pale thanks to successive days indoors playing multiplayer. Those opening title screens and music immediately transport me back to my childhood bedroom and I still get excited retrying all the different modes, time challenges and cheats. Ultimately, GoldenEye is the main game that reminds me of a very happy childhood I was lucky to have.
My First 3D FPS
FPS titles hadn't been on my gaming radar at thirteen years old – I was all racers, football sims and platformers. I did briefly have Doom on my SNES but, as mentioned, I didn't enjoy it much. I'm not sure why. But what I am sure about it that, thanks to GoldenEye, I now love Doom 64, Doom for GBA and a variety of other FPS'. I now see that it was the first time I could really feel I was lost in a movie because of the true 3D. Oh and not any movie – a movie I adored at the time. Oh and not as any character either – but as James Bond! I love returning to that feeling because I still get it. Being immersed in a film I love, as a character a young boy would aspire to be, is still an experience I don't get from any other game in the same way despite the graphical and gameplay limitations of the hardware. I now love FPS games, so how can I not return to where it all began?
A bold subheading because I know there have been plenty of games matching the quality that GoldenEye has. For me, it got a lot of gameplay aspects so right that I find myself returning rather than seeking that same level of quality elsewhere. I'm probably missing out but with GoldenEye I know what I will get, I know I will love what I get and feel thoroughly satisfied by the gaming experience on offer. For instance, the replay value is phenomenal considering this game was being developed twenty years ago. There's so much choice depending on my fancy: do I go for time and get a cheat? Do I put cheats on and have some fun? Do I work on the next 00 Agent level or really test myself on 007 Mode? Or do I make up my own criteria for tackling a level such as head shots only? And this is only for playing on my lonesome!
In addition to that, I return to GoldenEye more than any other FPS because I find its levels more replayable due to their design. When I compare them to others in the genre I sometimes play, such as Quake 2, I find the clarity of their layout and objective-driven play far more appealing to try over again. Likewise, I'm more drawn to their relative simplicity. The more linear levels like Train, Facility and Caverns allow me to focus on what's important; I'm not much of an explorer when enjoying a FPS. This helps explain why Archives, Depot and Frigate are my least favourite and why I personally prefer playing GoldenEye over Perfect Dark. However, I can certainly appreciate why others would say the complete opposite to me.
One-player aside, the replay value for multiplayer cannot go unsaid despite the potential to ramble on for pages. Suffice to say, I have yet to find a friend or acquaintance that hasn't been willing to relive some childhood fun with multiplayer GoldenEye. A few takers for WWF No Mercy, Mario Kart 64, ISS 64, yes. No takers for Diddy Kong Racing, WipEout 64. But GoldenEye never fails…
Personally, the arenas make or break this kind of multiplayer experience and the majority are designed just right: sized nicely whether two, three or four-player; some with hidden areas, secret doors, multi-floored; some based on the one-player mode, some unique to multiplayer for that surprise element. Battles never have to be the same and players can then get tactical, sorting the men from the boys. When three like-minded friends join you, how can one not keep returning to these battles again and again when the opportunity presents itself?
Attention to Detail
Some may rightfully say this final section doesn't further my argument as to why GoldenEye keeps being returned to. Yet, I feel it does. This is because the developer's attention to detail helped me fall in love with the game. And when you love something, you want to enjoy it as much as you can!
For instance, Facility has the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek sign above one of the doors. Moreover, there are smaller details such as the inverted hammer and sickle on Bunker's walls. My favourite one, however, comes from Surface and involves a little bit of creative inference from myself. You may have noticed, in Bunker, there is a guard in a green uniform plus purple hat and another with a brown uniform plus green hat. Well, in Surface, I killed a brown-uniformed guard minus the hat in one of the brown huts. Further on, another brown hut houses a solitary green hat left on the desk; surely the hat owned by the brown-uniformed guard from earlier. So why was it left behind? What emergency caused him to up from his desk without a moment's hesitation to put the hat on? Maybe knowledge of Bond's imminent presence? An issue with the GoldenEye? Dissent in the ranks? What I just love is Rare's efforts with small details like this, and when I can see the love put in I want to return to appreciate it and maybe discover something new.
In eighteen years I have thoroughly enjoyed many games for various consoles and still return to them occasionally. But GoldenEye has honestly been my most replayed one of the lot. I'm open to something usurping it…but nothing has yet.
For me, it was one of the best ever recreations of a film in games. So many scenes looked like the film compared to what we were used to which was usually bland platformers using a cartoony likeness of the main character.
While I enjoyed the Goldeneye 007 on the Wii (probably more than it deserved), this is the game that I have so many fond memories of. I remember when we first got the game, I wasn't expecting much - I was still playing my way through Star Fox 64, and I thought the multiplayer for that was unbeatable. My friends and I ended up spending over a year playing Bond multiplayer, to the point where we had rules we always went to (one-shot kills, paintball, etc.), and we had all of the respawn points memorized. Graphically, it hasn't aged well, and I do think Perfect Dark was superior to this game, but Goldeneye was revolutionary. It's the one that truly gives the four controller ports on the front of the console a reason to exist. Local multiplayer at its finest.
I think to enjoy Goldeneye 007 you really have to scratch the upper difficulties, it is just so fun!
apple and nintendo really remind me of each other and rare is one of the reasons why. with all the defections and the formation of playtonic, maybe there can be a rekindling of the old flame. at least buy them a drink.
I spent about 2 years from 1997 onwards on goldeneye..... Loved paintball mode and Loved DK mode (bighead) I had some of the best multiplayer sessions on this game.......... Yet I never found out until messing around recently that you can use 2 controllers as dual analogue sticks. I'm glad I found this out recently as I don't think my 10 year old mind could cope with it without been blown to pieces.
This is why I'm still playing Die Hard Trilogy.
I love GoldenEye, I was obsessed with replaying it over and over during my university days. Sadly it's been ages since I last played it properly and my skills have no doubt atrophied.
It's not the same on an emulator, the graphics aren't emulated properly in places and it doesn't feel right using squishy Xbox 360 analogue triggers to aim and fire. It's got to be played on an original console with an original N64 controller to feel right!
I particularly I enjoyed doing level 2 on 00 Agent in under 2 minutes as that would unlock one of the cheats. I remember at least three people lending me their GoldenEye carts to unlock that one for them!
I never got the love for Perfect Dark though. I remember I couldn't even beat it on easy, the last boss was impossible!
I still want to play this game, and been meaning to for years now. But since it's not on VC, I fear I might have to scrape the bottom of the emulator barrel.
I mean, I have a N64, but for some reason the only game it will run without crashing is Mario Party 1. (It must hate me)
Even though my older brother doesn't play many games today, we still play GoldenEye whenever we meet. Licence to Kill. Facility. Proximity Mines. The rest plays itself.
quake was my first true multiplayer deathmatch. Yea, I had plenty of fun playing this and even quake 2 on n64 4 person splitscreen on a 13inch tv. Holding out in the temple for body armor with remote mines never got old. As for nostalgia, i haven't played this for years and don't really need a remake or anything. there are plenty of great fps games today, maybe too many IMO.
@mjharper I am currently just discovering the Wii version, and I have to say it's actually really good as well! Yes, I know it's FAR from the seminal shooter that Goldeneye 64 was, but still, there are some really nice touches in there, and a lot of nods to the older game and parts of the film that the 64 couldn't do. Plus, gotta love Wiimote shooting accuracy, so satisfying!
As for the 64 game; best local multiplayer ever. Thus, best multiplayer ever
Yes, but are you playing it dual analog style?
Ya know: Using one N64 pad in each hand (as is possible to select in the control menu).
Because GoldenEye feels almost like a modern fps game, in terms of controls, using that setup. It actually feels more comfortable holding one of those centre prongs in each hand than is does most traditional controllers. In fact, it feels almost as if you're genuinely holding two guns. The only thing like it these days is the upcoming motion controllers for the various VR headsets out there. And this kind of control is something I've personally been excited about for quite some time:
PS. GoldenEye is definitely one of the best and most important fps games in the history of the genre.
People are more creative when they have less options, I think.
I got GoldenEye for my 13th Birthday with the N64. I read a review on the official Nintendo website and it sounded like a brilliant game. It also took me months to unlock everything but I like that it lasted me for so long. Had some great multiplayer games as well.
GoldenEye, Perfect Dark and Turok 2 on N64 are 3 of best first person shooters I've played.
If it wasn't GoldenEye it would have been another game. I liked Super Mario 64 for similar reasons. But they do look quite ropey by today's standards.
You are right when you say...'it actually feels more comfortable holding one of those centre prongs in each hand than is does most traditional controllers'.
Nintendo has tried to reinvent the controllers with the Wii and Wii U but there was nothing wrong with the older ones.
If video game consoles had an Activity Log back in the day, it would be interesting to see which game me and my cousin's played the most of. GoldenEye 007 or Mario Kart 64. Both were the best in local multiplayer in the 90s.
"Why we're still playing goldeneye 007"
I bough this in a flea market two weeks ago, still better game than others from last year. It is impresive how this game is not getting older, it is like a good wine, the older, the better!
GoldenEye 007 is a game of epic proportions and in my opinion IS the most influential FPS ever, Half Life was even delayed a year to incorporate ideas from Rare's masterclass. Unfortunately now PC gamers and multiplat journalists like to peg its influence into a tiny corner, denying its excellence all because it was on the uncool N64 console with the funny 3 prong controller (which was amazing in 1996,97,98).
I was a PC gamer in the early to mid 90s - Wolfenstein, Doom, I played Quake with its stunning 3 frames of animation to death. But then GoldenEye came out, after coming off Quake on pc (on high settings)...The graphics, I'll never forget how intricately detailed and realistic the characters, levels and the textures were, 1000s of frames of animations, hit detection, atmospheric lighting, spectacular draw distance, particle, explosion effects, damage modelling animated to the T, incredible AI, intelligent gameplay, hacking, shooting the locks of doors, laser watches, photography, wide open, esponiage environments you could get lost in combined with linear run and gun action, vehicles, cutscenes, bullet holes in walls(!), escort missions, gun animations, dual wielding weapons, Sniper - zoom scopes, secrets, cover system, massive multiplayer mode were everything could be modified to the last, the spectacular sound and music, presentation and User Interface many years ahead of its time - GE had it all - FIRST.
@Liveswired you just brought a tear to my eye..... I feel you
Was playing this just yesterday. And it has to be played on an n64..as someone said, the controls aren't right on the emulators.
I also have goldeneye X on the n64 and that is a right blast. It adds bots and opens up other levels for multiplayer fun. Cradle with sniper rifles is priceless!
This game is one of my all time favorites. Me and my buddies played it non stop in college, and combined with a great single player campaign, is truly one of the best FPS ever made. It started my love for the genre and remains one of the best games I've ever played.
I do remember it coming with hype and I was really looking forward to it, but that's probably due to Nintendo Power, which was hipping it greatly. Back then, I read that magazine like it was a holy text!
Why can't they just pay for it? Do they think we would not pay extra just to finally get this game again? Leave it just how it is but add online multiplayer. Still 4 players. Simple! If you add more players make the levels a bit bigger. Done! We will pay for all the royalties and what not to get this game.
@liveswired All very true, enough can't be said to how great of a game Goldeneye was and still is to this day. I remember reading about it up to it's release in my subscription to Nintendo Power. It had been delayed several times but when it released I was not at all disappointed like I was with other hyped games like Mission Impossible (originally set to use the 64DD and other features). Goldeneye was based off of actual movie sets and because of that had rooms that were unoccupied and unimportant. I love the humor in the game too how everything down to a table can be shot and explode. But then other things like glass beakers can be shot and the glass can shatter. Also lights can shot out that will darken the room, a small attention to detail not found in virtually any game today.
I know it's unlikely to happen but I would love to see this game made available on the Wii U, 3DS (in 3D), or even NX VC if the legal issues could be worked out.
If you want entertainment, then try golden gun, slaps only, no odd job. Got to be quick on the trigger, but if you miss you opponent practically gets a free shot.
@SuperWiiU oh I loved that game. I think I got a copy of it lying around someone. My Psone is modded so if I don't I could always burn another copy.
@Nico07 True, GE still has secrets hiding within to this very day. It is a cast iron classic. Developed when the British games industry was at its best.
i still break out GE many times a year and always find it refreshing to return to.
@Kirk Agreed Kirk. Check out my other comment on GE. I still class it as the most influential FPS in existence.
This was my favorite game for the N64, such a good game along with a multiplayer shooter that at the time that was the life of the party. And this game has stood the test of time. I could go on about this game, just such a good game altogether.
@gamermole Thanks. I just hate the way GoldenEye is usually brushed aside these days. All because it was a Nintendo exclusive made by a British developer on a cartridge based console, with an eccentric but awesome controller that everyone loves to hate on!
Had this been made in the USA for PC or PS1 (GE was too advanced for PS1) it would strike number 1 on all FPS charts for influence. People like to ignore the fact that before GE an FPS was corridor, no brains shooting and that was it.
We're still playing because we're living in the past. Buuuut it's okay, I do wish this would get the proper port or rerelease whatever you nerds want so it ends the crying
An article on GoldenEye will always get us excited. Never does it cease to amaze. The details this game had was many. One of my favorites was how stellar the sound design was; pay attention to the ricochet sounds when shooting a wall. If I remember correctly, they vary at random.
@liveswired Did you know you can plug in 2 controllers and use them for single player as dual analogue sticks?
"My memory may betray me here (and feel free to correct me in the comments below) but I don't remember GoldenEye arriving with any major hype"
This was true within the general gaming community, since most movie-based games were terrible up until that time. People just didn't expect much out of it. And then people were blown away when they realized it wasn't just great but epic and revolutionary for the genre.
Still one of the most mind-blowing games I've played.
Like Wave Race 64, if you play this game now it might look dated but both games still have great controls. These games were pioneering. I remember playing Goldeneye and being addicted and impressed. The most difficult setting is extremely challenging. The levels were very well crafted (and beautiful in a sense) and the soundtrack adaptation is superb.
Goldeneye and Diddy Kong Racing are two games you can only play legally on a N64.
Goldeneye 007 is the game I have played with friends (local multiplayer) the most. Even more than any Mario Kart game.
@liveswired Yup, totally agree with you.
Yeah, it had the ability to shoot enemies in specific body parts and have them react accordingly. Shoot a gaurd in the *ss and he'd jump around grabbing his butt. Shoot him in the head and his hat/helmet would fly off if he was wearing one. Shoot him in the hand and he'd drop his gun, and you could then shoot the gun around on the floor. And you even saw the subtle blood mark on the spot where you shot him too.
Whenever you shot something you'd see a bullet hole decal, as you said, which you could even use to write your name on the wall.
You could shoot out glass windows, shoot almost every object until it exploded, even shoot glass beakers on desks. . . .
That kind of attention to detail, and that level of sandbox gameplay design, was unheard of in fps games prior to GoldenEye. In fact, it was unheard of in most 3D games prior to GoldenEye, if not all of them.
@Kirk Very well explained.
It was quite satisfying to shoot a little window and then shoot a soldier without opening the door (Control level).
This is a lovely feature, Mr Smith, mainly because you've managed to get me thinking about all the little details that made GoldenEye 007 extra special. The gameplay, level design, sound, multiplayer — they're all fantastic. However, I think I sometimes forget how much fun I had looking for secrets, admiring the little details and playing the game in lots of different ways, the latter of which was certainly only really possible in GoldenEye 007 at the time.
I still return to GoldenEye 007 on a regular basis and still find it highly playable. I often hear complaints surrounding the controls but the game is designed with the N64 controller very much in mind, and often I think it's just that people find it clunky in the first instance. I personally feel that Perfect Dark is the better game — it's both more refined and a heck of a lot more ambitious — but GoldenEye nevertheless is an excellent example of not only how to flawlessly distil another form of media into a video game, but also to make it even better with exceptional game design and attention to detail.
Love GoldenEye. One of the best FPS's of all time. Countless hours wasted shooting my friends!
For me the best fps game of all time and i'd say it is the most influential fps ever.
I don't think it will be surpassed ever for me, Perfect Dark is very very close but it came later than Goldeneye.
Todays fps's are a joke i'd say, the handholding, arrows constantly pointing where u should go next. I just don't enjoy them.
The first time I played Goldeneye was in the shop Beaties in Merry Hill, they had a N64 stand, I was blown away ... the fact you could shoot the enemies in different places!
When I owned it, we'd usually play License To Kill Mode, 1 shot kills. It just made it all more tense!
I remember once on the Archives level, one of our friends was hiding upstairs in TDM and the us other 2, kept collecting mines and attaching them to the ceiling to kill him that way. You couldn't do it forever though and they began disappearing! So we detonated, killed us but we got him through the floor! Good times.
If I had to play only one fps ever again it would be this.
@VanillaLake agree on wave race I believe to this day it still has some of the best water effects.
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