Twenty years ago, GoldenEye 007 was released for the Nintendo 64 and changed the landscape of console gaming, proving that first-person shooters were commercially-viable beyond personal computers. It captured the imagination of an entire generation.
Even before the game was released to the general public, it was already marked as a likely failure. Though they greenlighted the project, Nintendo wasn't too impressed with the overall outlook of the game. Most of the developmental team never worked on an actual video game, and the lone veteran only worked one prior title with Rare. GoldenEye 007 was released nearly two years after the film was in theaters and didn't perform well at its premiere at E3. It was a recipe for failure, yet somehow it became one of the best-selling titles for the Nintendo 64.
As of writing this article, I found my old copy of GoldeneEye 007. Despite being rather pixelated and blurry, it was still loads of fun to play. Nearly two decades after its initial release, the game remains one of the most influential titles of all time. Let's celebrate its twentieth birthday with 25 awesome things you didn't know about GoldenEye 007.
25 It Also Tells Time
A fashionable accessory and truly functional. Virtually unknown to gamers, Bond's watch, or the in-mission menu screen, actually tells real-world time. Besides pausing the game and allowing for the player to review the mission objectives, modify gaming options, and choosing various weapons and equipment, the hands on the watch actually tells time. This happens regardless if the game is paused or not. So, just in case you don't know what time it is due to your gaming binge, Bond's super cool watch can actually tell you the time in addition to cutting through trap doors with a powerful laser beam. Only the best for Her Majesty's Secret Service.
24 Two Are Better Than One
Four of the eight available controller configurations feature the usage of dual controllers, but very few players of GoldenEye actually utilized them. Each setting is named after a previous Bond Girl. The dual-controller settings are given the names of Plenty, Galore, Domino, and Goodhead. Utilizing the dual-controllers would allow the gamer to imitate the analog sticks available on modern consoles, giving more precise control over Bond's movements. Interestingly, using any of the dual-controller settings would allow Bond to continue to fire during the finishing cutscene, even permitting for the fourth-and-final kill of Baron Samedi in the Egyptian level.
23 Enemies Are Rare Employees
If the faces of those Soviet soldiers and scientists look a little too detailed to be imagined characters, you are exactly right. Their likenesses are based on the development staff, including the very memorable Dr. Doak, a double-agent scientist in the Arkhangelsk weapons facility who gives Bond the Door Decoder who is based on developer David Doak. Doak, of course, was an influential developer for Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble, Perfect Dark, and TimeSplitters. The developers are secret characters who could be unlocked through cheats, either through button presses or the usage of Gameshark. All of them are featured as the heads of the various enemies Bond has the pleasure of killing throughout the game.
22 That's Pretty Meta
GoldenEye 007 was loaded with various Easter Eggs and interesting secrets. When retrieving a CCTV tape during the mission Bunker 2, gamers might have noticed that the tape on the table looks rather like a VHS copy of the GoldenEye film. If Bond does acquire the CCTV tape, it will show up in the inventory as the VHS copy of Goldeneye. Rather than having a tape that just reads CCTV, it is the actual movie on tape. The tape must be retrieved in order to complete the mission, as it relates to Bond's involvement in the Severnaya incident. The folks at Rare certainly loves to have some rather silly stuff programmed into the game.
21 The Stuff They Left Out
Despite featuring wonderfully-detailed levels, there was actually a lot of stuff left out from the official release of the game. Some of the more interesting stuff can be found in the introduction level of Dam, where there are various features that were unused in the final version. In additional to the island on top of the Dam, there are many other unused elements, as well. One of these is a boat for getting to and from the Island. Unfortunately, the boat remains static at the docks, but there was probably plans for Bond to be able to drive it across the water. Also, the military truck features fully-rendered doors, even on the interior, which means that Bond was able to drive the truck across the level. There are several unused items, too. The Piton Gun and Bungee are actually items you needed to finish the level. A Sat Box is featured on the level, but has no function. It would make sense why a lot of these were left out of the final release, as the levels were already long enough.
20 To Be A Bond Girl
As the most popular Bond-related game in history, Goldeneye also paid homage to previous Bond titles through several Easter Eggs. If you are not familiar with Bond films, this Easter Egg is easily missed. Of the eight different available controller configurations, all of them are named after previous Bond Girls: Honey, Solitaire, Kissy, Goodnight, Plenty, Galore, Domino, and Goodhead. Pretty much almost all of their names were puns with sexual innuendo baked right in. Out of the eight configurations, half of them were Dual Controller styles, which is the modern equivalent of analog sticks. The first controller would handle linear motions, and the secondary controller managed the rotational motions. And you thought the game was a dinosaur!
19 Multiplayer Afterthought
Besides the excellent mission campaign mode, one of the most praised features of GoldenEye 007 is the very fun multiplayer mode, which became a standard feature for all future shooters. Amazingly, it was almost not included with the game. Programmer Steve Ellis decided to add a multiplayer mode with only a month of development time left. Afraid that his bosses would not approve of him spending the time to work on the multiplayer mode, Ellis kept its development on the down low. At the end of the development calendar, the mode was left in without any opposition.
18 Number Three On The Charts, But First In Our Hearts
Though predicted by Nintendo to be a dud, GoldenEye ended up being the third best-selling game on the Nintendo 64, behind only Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. The game development for GoldenEye was considered to be so troubled that Nintendo almost decided to pull the plug on the project. A poor showing at E3 didn't help Rare's cause either. So, two years after the original film was released, the idea that console shooters were not viable, and that tie-in licensed titles often failed, Rare still decided to tread on. Luckily, the game sold nearly eight million copies, proving that there was a lucrative future in console shooters. Thank your lucky stars, Call of Duty and Halo lovers.
17 Secret Island
Despite Dam being quite a long level, especially acting as the introduction mission of GoldenEye, it was actually supposed to be much longer. Several extra features were scrapped. One of the most famous of these is known as the Island, which sits on the top of Byelomorye Dam and can be seen by utilizing the scopes on Bond's KF7 or Sniper Rifle. Because the Island was not included in the final version, it is only reachable by using cheating software like Gameshark and activating the “No Clipping” command, allowing Bond to float across the water to reach it. Other than containing a lookout tower and a non-functioning turret, the Island didn't feature much else. It was likely this was a location where Bond acquired a piton gun or bungee cord in order to exit the level.
16 Operation GoldenEye
The name of GoldenEye is actually Ian Fleming's, the creator of James Bond and former Lieutenant Commander of the British Naval Intelligence, covert operation. The covert op was a plan to counteract the Invasion of Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Much later, Fleming named his home in the island country of Jamaica as GoldenEye, as well. People always wondered if Fleming led a similar life to his James Bond, though he has always denied it. GoldenEye was actually not written by Fleming, but rather John Gardner, who novelized sixteen Bond stories from 1981 to 1996.
One of the biggest unwritten rule in GoldenEye is that no one should be allowed to choose Oddjob during multiplayer modes, due to the fact that he is the shortest character and the hardest to hit. Oddjob has a distinct advantage of being so short that regular auto-aim gunfire would harmlessly pass over his head. The only real way of hitting him is to actually aim the crosshairs downwards. Because of this, the bonus gift included with the rehashed version for the Nintendo Wii called GoldenEye Reloaded is a t-shirt with Oddjob's signature Bowler's Hat with the word “Cheater” accompanying it.
14 ZX Spectrum Emulator
After two decades, many gamers didn't realize there was a ZX Spectrum Emulator lying within the coding of GoldenEye. Rare actually input the emulator, featuring several of their classic titles, to test the emulation capabilities of the Nintendo 64. Included with the emulator was ten games created in the 80s when Rare was operating under the name of Ultimate Play The Game. Most of them are unknown to even retro-minded gamers. When GoldenEye was finished, this merely left the code in the game without any alteration or even deletion. The easiest way of accessing the ZX Spectrum emulator is by activating a fan-created patch on an N64 emulating software.
13 A Movie After All
The rather violent nature of Goldeneye was a troubling aspect for Nintendo, a gaming company known for family-friendly games. The mastermind of several of Nintendo's most successful series, Shigeru Miyamoto, wanted Rare to minimize the in-game violence or include an ending where everyone is shaking hands at a hospital in order to show that they weren't actually killed for real. During a time when video game violence was still a hot-button issue, it was understandable that Miyamoto took this stance. Instead, Rare decided to introduce each of the characters as if they were in a film in the beginning of the game to suspend reality.
12 Pick Your Bond
The great thing about GoldenEye was that it was very keen on referencing the past characters and props featured in previous Bond films, including the Moonraker Laser, the Golden Gun, and the inclusion of Baron Samedi and Jaws. It was actually planned for the previous incarnations of Bonds to be featured in the game as playable skins and even have their faces grace the covers of the various dossiers. Unfortunately, probably due to legal reasons, the likenesses of Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, and Roger Moore were omitted. Like in Rare fashion, they were not completely removed from the game and can be accessed through the use of Gameshark and other cheating software.
11 Rumble Pak Reload
Before the game was released, Rare was contemplating an innovative method of reloading ammunition in GoldenEye by having the player pull out and reinsert the Rumble Pak, simulating a real-life changing of a magazine. Luckily, the idea never did exactly pan out, and left out of the final incarnation of the game. It was likely that performing this with the Rumble Pak would inevitably degrade the connectors of the controller as well as the Rumble Pak, itself. Still, seeing this as a feature in action would have been great sight to behold. A Kojima level of inventive game design.
10 The Red Shirts
GoldenEye didn't just reference only James Bond-related fiction, but even poked fun at another successful franchise, Star Trek. In the Streets mission, where Bond drives a tank to pursue Janus and the kidnapped Natalya, the civilians running around the level are actually wearing red shirts, referencing the ill-fated “Red Shirts” from Star Trek: The Original Series who often died on a regular basis. Just like in Star Trek, the civilians are easily killed, usually being crushed by the Bond-driven tank. The player must be careful not to murder too many civilians, or the mission would be failed.
9 Virtual Bond
Some things are better left unsaid or even unreleased. At least, that is the case for GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo's failed Virtual Boy console. Meant to be released alongside the Nintendo 64 version of the game, the Virtual Boy incarnation is basically a racing game that probably took huge liberties with the source material. Not much is known about the game besides a couple of blurry screenshots. Even Rare denied ever working on this game. Because of the Virtual Boy's universal panning, many games, including GoldenEye, never saw the light of day. Thankfully, some people, including myself, view this as a crisis averted.
8 What Could Have Been
When development for GoldenEye 007 started in 1994, the original plan for the game was to create a 2D platformer for the Super Nintendo, similar to other licensed 16-bit titles like Demolition Man, Batman, and Aladdin. Luckily Mark Hollis, the leader of the development team, insisted that GoldenEye be a shooter similar to the rail-shooting arcade classic, Virtua Cop. Bond's missions within the game would have him move across a level in a controlled progression, with little user control. It wasn't until Hollis saw the open-world features of Super Mario 64 that he decided the game would have open access to entire levels. As they say, the rest is video gaming history.
7 Modern Redux
GoldenEye Source was a fan-created multiplayer remake of the original game utilizing Valve's Source engine, famous being the basis for Half-Life 2. The development of this game was started by Nicholas Bishop, who unfortunately passed away soon after. However, the life of the remake continued, featuring various faithful recreations of the original maps with modern graphics and advanced textures. The fifth version of the GoldenEye Source was released nearly one year ago on August 12, 2016. The mod won two awards at Mod DB, a website focused on game modding. Those how still love GoldenEye should really give GoldenEye Source 5.0 a good playthrough. Hopefully, they will recreate the actual missions one day.
6 Ragtag Team
Aside from programmer Mark Hollis, the development team of GoldenEye consisted of eight rookies without any game-making experience. Even Hollis himself only had worked on a grand total of one game with Rare, the popular fighting game Killer Instinct. Thus, it makes it even more amazing that a ragtag crew could come up with a commercially-successful title that is considered one of the most influential first-person shooters of all time. Maybe it was their lack of fear, somehow GoldenEye was a bona fide masterpiece with several spiritual sequels, Perfect Dark, and TimeSplitters.
5 Piece Of Klobb
Also known as the Spyder and Skorpion, the Klobb is a submachine gun that was named after Ken Lobb, a game designer, and is possibly the worst overall weapon in GoldenEye and FPS history. While it is not the weakest weapon in the game, as the Shotgun is actually worse statistically, the Klobb was hugely inaccurate, slow, and went through ammunition like crazy. Even more terrible, this weapon was ridiculously loud and placed in levels where stealth was essential to survival. I have never successfully gotten through missions beyond Agent if I used the Klobb. Quite honestly, it was probably easier to Slap Chop your opponents to death than to use the Klobb at any time.
4 Al(most) Truly M
Sure, the violence featured in GoldenEye is tame by today's standards. Rare actually wanted the game to be way over the top. Mark Hollis claimed that Rare wanted to have gory renderings featuring “fountains of blood” and textures that would “explode out.” Because it was for the Nintendo, a company known for family-friendly entertainment, it was likely never going to be released with any of these details. Still, Hollis might have actually went with the visceral version if GoldenEye was actually released for a console like the Sony PlayStation of the Sega Saturn. Oh, what could have been.
3 One Hit Wonder
It is highly-debatable why Rare never did create a sequel to GoldenEye. Despite GoldenEye 007 selling over 8 million units, Rare only produced a spiritual sequel of Perfect Dark, which was a great game that failed to repeat the same success, financially. Mark Hollis refused to develop a sequel and Nintendo actually didn't pursue this much further. Unbelievable, right? Something doesn't seem quite right. Eventually, EA acquired the Bond licensing and created a tie-in game for the film sequel, Tomorrow Never Dies, a third-person shooter for the original PlayStation that received mixed reviews and didn't even come close to the success and acclaim GoldenEye achieved for Nintendo.
2 Fun With Explosives
The possibilities for fun with the Timed Mines are endless. Shrewdly-placed timed mines before the level ends changes and alters the level-finish cutscenes, usually with explosive results. Though Bond never could be killed in the cutscenes, other NPC do not hold that sort of immunity to death. There are numerous levels where carefully-placed timed mines could allow for these characters to be killed by Bond, without altering the end result of the mission. Therefore, in a level like Bunker 2, where Bond has to safely rescue Natalya, you can toss several Timed Mines on the helipad. While running across it during the victory cutscene, the mines will denote, killing her in the process while leaving Bond unscathed. Take that stupid programmer.
1 GoldenEye In Real Life
Several years ago, the Youtube channel called Dark Pixel, known for producing hilarious live-action content based on video games, took their swing at GoldenEye. In a video they called “Real Life GoldenEye 64,” they filmed a silly real-life version that they claimed to be a realistic mod. The game makes fun of how stupid Natalya's AI is in the original title. For a laugh-filled four minutes, Natalya keeps getting stuck behind walls and accidentally killed in various methods, sometimes by the enemy and sometimes by Bond. Be sure to watch the entire video, because that payoff at the end is totally worth it.