RATED T (Ages 13+)
August 23, 1997 (Japan)
August 25, 1997 (US and Europe)
PUBLISHED BY: Nintendo
DEVELOPED BY: Rareware
Genre: First Person Shooter
Featuring the likeness of:
Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Gottfried John, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming, Tcheky Kayro, Harold Sakata, Grace Jones, Richard Kiel and Geoffrey Holder.
You are Bond. James Bond. You are assigned covert operations connected with the GoldenEye weapons satellite. M will brief you on your mission and objectives from London. Q Branch will support your efforts with a plentiful supply of weapons and gadgets. Moneypenny offers you light-hearted best wishes and you're off! Your mission begins in the heavily guarded chemical warfare facility at the Byelomorye Dam in the USSR. Look and shoot in any direction as you navigate 12 interactive 3-D environments. Use stealth and force as you see fit in matters of international security. Consider the military personnel expendable. You are licensed to kill!
Exciting 3-D environments.
Highly intelligent enemies!
Numerous Q gadgets and weapons!
Battery-backed memory saves game progress!
The birth of a legend
GOLDENEYE 007 is still considered one of the best video games in history given its huge replayability value and the entertaining multiplayer mode. Done by a team of developers with little experience, GOLDENEYE 007 set the standards for every future Bond video game and every new interactive adventure of the franchise is often compared to it. Released in 1997 for the ground-breaking Nintendo 64 console, GOLDENEYE 007 followed the story of the 1995 James Bond film through 19 missions, plus two unlockable bonus missions inspired by the Roger Moore 007 flicks MOONRAKER and LIVE AND LET DIE.
The inception of the project came in November 1994, some months before the production of the original film began. Programmer Martin Hollis, from the British videogame company Rareware (Rare for short) approached the managing director Tim Stamper and offered to work in Rare's new project with Nintendo: a video game based on the upcoming James Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan. Originally, the game was meant for the Super Nintendo game system as a 2D side-scrolling platformer version. It was Hollis who proposed "a 3D shooting game" for the Ultra 64 console, later known as Nintendo 64.
Martin Hollis' game design notes, dated April 4, 1995, proposed a game "similar to VIRTUA COP in terms of game-play". The 1994 Sega game was a popular on-rails shooter in which the player didn't control the movements of the protagonist but only the weapon action. Hollis noted that, in contrast to VIRTUA COP, GOLDENEYE 007 would have "a large number of character types, with every character different", "a large range of objects" and more uses for each of them, in the sense a weapon could be also used for "more than just shooting the bad guys".
The original game would consist of 15 missions, all following the story of the film except the first one titled "Severnaya - Part One" (later placed as the fourth level), in which the player controlling James Bond would visit the Siberian satellite instalation where Natalya Simonova worked. "Bond never went to Severnaya in the film", explained Hollis, "altough he states in the script that he has 'been inside that kind of Russian facility'". Also Hollis suggested to expand the Statue Park mission where 007 meets Janus: "Bond will put up more of a fight against the Janus syndicate operatives, rather than being Tazered into unconsciousness almost immediately."
First person shooter games like DOOM and Nintendo 64's launch title SUPER MARIO 64 were a big influence for the project, the latter was the base for the game's idea of having the player complete a list of objectives before reaching the game's goal or exit, instead of just eliminating a couple of random bad guys. Shortly after the production of GOLDENEYE the movie began on January 1995, EON Productions and United Artists allowed the developers to visit the set based on the Leavesden studios to take photographs and photocopy blueprints to provide a realistic game experience. Hollis wanted players to receive "feedback from the environment" as they shoot objects or walls, so effects like bullet marks in the walls and cartidge cases being ejected from the guns were added, as well as many exploding objects around that would harm both the player and enemies when being blown away.
Since little was known of the capabilities of Nintendo 64, wire-frame models of the different location maps were created using SGI computers and NINGEN, the development software for the 64-bit console, also experimenting with a modified Sega Saturn controller to do some early playtesting. The initial team led by Martin Hollis consisted of other three people: programmer Mark Edmonds, character artist B. Jones, and background artist Karl Hilton. Edmonds created a game engine to render 3D graphics from art packages into the Nintendo 64 data textures, while Hilton modelled levels from the material they recollected from the film set and Jones adapted publicity stills from the cast into the polygonal character models. Designer Duncan Botwood later joined the team to build the levels. During 1995, art assets were produced and the engine was developed, allowing the player and enemies to move around a virtual environment.
In 1996, Rare raised the bet on the project and added more people, like designer David Doak. Doak helped design the levels and worked on the AI scripting for the game and developed the finer things of the enemies reaction to the sound of bullets, womething that was very novel back in the day. Months later, programmer Steve Ellies joined the team and came up with the idea of a multiplayer mode, which would turn out to be one of the most positive and enjoyable features of the game. Adrian Smith, another artist, produced visual effects like explosions and muzzle flashes, inspired by Michael Mann's 1995 film HEAT.
The final touch of the game was added by Graeme Norgate and Grant Kirkhope's engaging music, inspired by Eric Serra's score for the source film but with a touch of techno sounds and the inclusion of the James Bond Theme, which was used very little in the original film. Robin Beanland also made short versions of the Monty Norman composition used as "elevator music" in some of the levels.
The violence contained in the game concerned Nintendo very much, reason why the team had to tone down the killing and gave the game a "movie" feeling, starting with a BBFC disclaimer parody similar as the VHS releases and concluding with an end credits sequence, in which people like "James Bond" and "Natalya Simonova" played "007" and a "Satellite Programmer". GOLDENEYE 007 would be Rare's first and only Bond game since the team declined the chance to adapt TOMORROW NEVER DIES, premiered three months and a half after GOLDENEYE 007 reached the stores. The game was released with a "T" (Teens) rating for gamers over 13, altough the violent content was too much for the German market and the product was banned for a couple of months.
The expectations for the game were very low and the promotion at the E3 Expo in Atlanta was unsuccessful. Still, GOLDENEYE 007 turned out to be a huge success. It sold 2.1 millon unit copies in 1998, becoming the third best selling game for Nintendo 64 behind SUPER MARIO 64 and MARIO KART 64. The sales grossed $250 million worldwide. In 1998, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences named it "The Game of The Year".
The game's legacy would include a spin-off by Electronic Arts in 2004, GOLDENEYE: ROGUE AGENT, before Activision acquired the James Bond rights and released a rebooted version of the title in 2010 with Daniel Craig as James Bond and the story reimagined by screenwriter Bruce Feirstein, who worked in the original film. A high definition version of that reboot was released the next year, but most 007 and gaming fans insist that nothing can top the original. Unofficial versions based on the 1997 game were created, such as the 2005 Valve-mod GOLDENEYE: SOURCE which is tought of as the spiritual successor of the original's multiplayer mode. In late 2017, a project called GOLDENEYE 25 was announced, consisting in a freeware version of the game modelled in the UNREAL 4 engine. Three years later, GOLDENEYE 25 recieved a "cease and desist" notification on behalf of EON Productions and Danjaq, so the project evolved into S.P.I.E.S. DON'T DIE, an original title with many connections to the first-person shooters of the 1990s.
007: James Bond
Satellite Programmer: Natalya Simonova
006 / Janus: Alec Trevelyan
Janus Operative: Xenia Onatopp
Russian General: Arkady Ourumov
Satellite Programmer: Boris Grishenko
Arms Dealer: Valentin Zukovsky
Defence Minister: Dimitri Mishkin
Guest Star: Mayday
Guest Star: Jaws
Guest Star: Oddjob
Guest Star: Baron Samedi
Produced and Directed by Martin Hollis
Director of Photography
Mark Edmonds M.A.
Scenic Art Director
Graeme Norgate, Grant Kirkhope
Sound System and Tools
Elevator Music by Robin Beanland
Huw Ward, Gary Richards, Gavin Hood, Jamie Williams, Gareth Jones, Martin Penny, David Wong, Stephen Stamper
Rare US Staff
Eileen Hochberg, Scott Hochberg, Jerry Rogowski
NOA Treehouse Staff
Ken Lobb, Richard S. Richardson, Henry C. Sterchi, Erich Waas, Armond Williams Jr.
Michael Kelbaugh, Tim Bechtel, David C. Bridgham, Kirk Buchanan, Kyle Carlson, Chris Dolan, Melvin Forrest, Thomas Hertzog, Sam Hosier III, Robert Johnson, Arnold A. Myers II, Chris Needham, Sara Osborne, Christian Phillips, Edward A. Ridgeway, Benjamin Smith, Sharon Evans, William Giese, Sam Kujath, Jim Holdeman, David Hunziker, The Q Branch XVI
Keisuke Terasaki, Eiji Aonuma, Masashi Goto
Kenji Okubo, Keisuke Terasaki
Minoru Arakawa, Howard Lincoln, Manabu Fukuda, Joel Hochberg, Tim Stamper, Chris Stamper, NCL Super Mario Club
Produced by Rare
Presented by Nintendo
XBLA version (cancelled)
Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of GOLDENEYE 007, an HD port of the Nintendo 64 classic was planned for the XBLA (XBOX Live Arcade) system. Rumours began on the Penny Arcade forums in December 2007 as this improved version of the original was set for a 2018 release for Microsoft's new platform. The project was unfortunately cancelled for many reasons, notably a disagreement between Nintendo and Microsoft and Danjaq, the holders of the James Bond intellectual property which includes the use of the characters and story of the 1995 source film GOLDENEYE, who kept a watchful eye on the development of every Bond game after Electronic Arts got the rights in 1998. For over 14 years, a few screenshots and video footage of the game made into the world wide web and some authorized publications, but it was finally on February 3, 2021, that a ROM containing a beta version of the full game leaked online and was available to play through the Xenia XBOX emulator.
This cancelled version replicates the the original game very well: everything is there, from the dramatic death animations to the watch menu and the cheats obtained by beating the game through time trials. It's all there, but in sharp high-definition graphics where you can see mountains behind the Dam and bushes in the Jungle that won't look like carboard. Nevertheless, a few new things were added in order to align with modern first-person shooters: if you play on the Agent difficilty (the easiest one), a visual waypoint will take you to the objective if you get lost; you can also switch weapons and gadgets with the B button instead of going to the watch menu, and -besides the unlockable cheats- you also have the option to get a series of "trophies" or achievements. There is also a "Help" section on the main menu where you can also adjust the control settings. Multiplayer can be played online or with split-screen settings (horizontal and vertical screen options), and three new maps were added to play with your friends: Dam, Frigate and Depot.
Cosmetic changes include the main menu using a different photo of Pierce Brosnan as James Bond (wearing a business suit instead of a tuxedo, but in an identical gun-in-hand pose), the CCTV from the Bunker 2 mission bearing the US one-sheet poster artwork instead of the international version, and double-agent Dr. Doak replaced by one Dr. Rakhmanov in the Facility level. In Frigate and the St Petersburg missions, a single breasted two-button grey suit replaces the navy blue suit 007 wears in these parts of the game. For those who feel nostalgic, pressing a button in your joystick will toggle graphics to those of Nintendo 64.
Images courtesy of Graslu00