It’s back! After years of waiting, the legendary N64 title Goldeneye 007 has had an update from Rare to run on Xbox and the Nintendo Switch.
With sharpened up graphics and a few tweaks here and there, the landmark title from 1997 is fully playable (and even features an online deathmatch mode for its famous multiplayer mode).
Well, we wasted no time in catching up with the game (we last played it in 2006 on our old N64). As this title really was an era defining SOB for gamers.
Goldeneye 007’s Modern Overhaul for Modern Gamers
The game is available on Xbox (Rare currently only produces titles for Microsoft), but you can also get it on the Nintendo Switch.
That’s after Rare, Microsoft, and Nintendo came to some sort of agreement.
Rare and Nintendo were best buds back in the 1990s, before Microsoft bought the develop in 2002. At the time, Rare (located in the tiny village of Twycross in Leicestershire) had a special relationship with Nintendo. And was one of the leading developers in the world.
Goldeneye 007 really cemented that status.
And that’s why it’s a glorious thing to replay this game on a Nintendo console again. It’s like taking a trip back to November 1997—a veritable time machine!
What to say of this game? Well, yes, it was a landmark experience—that’s well established. Over 25 years on and, yes, it’s also showing its age.
And whilst some in the gaming press have lamented this fact, complaining about frame rates and big black borders at the top of the screen (all hallmarks of ’90s gaming), we don’t think there’s much to grumble about here.
Goldeneye 007 is back. And it’s as you remember—the work it put in for the genre means it’s since been bettered by many other first-person shooters (Half-Life 2 and DOOM: Eternal spring to mind).
However, there’s no denying this game is still very enjoyable. Unplayable by modern standards? No in the slightest! We were surprised just how much we enjoyed return to the game. The highlights:
- Stealthy action!
- An impressive array of weapons!
- Perfectly judged cinematic qualities!
- Awesome soundtrack!
- Nostalgia overload!
Whilst some of its gaming mechanics, and design choices, have aged very poorly, there’s enough in the game to enjoy a great deal.
Levels like Facility, for instance, remain so much fun.
Despite its return, some gamers aren’t happy. They’re accusing Rare of creating a “lazy” port that doesn’t advance the experience in any way.
To note, there was a remaster of the game planned some years ago. It went into quite deep production, before being cancelled.
That was for the Xbox 360, although a reimagining of the game did appear in the form of 2010’s Goldeneye on the Wii (which gamers seem to be ignoring in favour of criticising this port). But this was Rare’s cancelled remaster in action.
The belief with those criticising Rare here is it should have been a more polished experience. Or perhaps a total remaster, with the option to switch between the N64 version’s graphics and the new take (like retro classics such as Wonder Boy do).
We feel the backlash is over the top. We went into the launch expecting Goldeneye 007 on the N64, issues and all, and this is what it is.
In that sense, it’s an incredibly faithful port of Goldeneye 007. But we feel some gamers looking back with rose tinted glasses didn’t realise the game hasn’t aged in the way they may have expected.
We’re accommodating for some of the issues in ’90s era, particularly circa 1997 and the awkward transition from 2D into 3D.
Here, some of the controls are a bit janky, but that was ’90s gaming on the N64 for you. Some of the levels have aged poorly and are forgettable, whereas others are a blast to play, and yeah its graphics look dated.
But we don’t think a total graphical overhaul would have addressed the game’s level design (and other issues) to enhance the experience any.
Issues aside, this is Goldeneye 007. Playing it on the switch has been a massive highlight of our gaming year so far. We’ve loved returning to it and celebrating this iconic FPS from peak late ’90s Rare in all its pomp and glory.
The Goldeneye 007 Watch Music
Your mission – sit back and listen to the music from the Q Watch in #Nintendo64’s GoldenEye 007, coming 27/01 on #NintendoSwitch for #NintendoSwitchOnline + Expansion Pack members. 🎶 pic.twitter.com/aVfljGZf7O
— Nintendo UK (@NintendoUK) January 26, 2023
One of the surprising things about the relaunch of the game? Lots of people reminiscing about the pause music in Goldeneye 007.
In game, you press pause and Bond looks at his watch. That triggers the above music, which runs on a loop.
The guy who composed it, Grant Kirkhope, has been on Twitter explaining why he’s so surprised it’s become iconic.
it’s so bizarre that the Goldeneye pause music has developed a life of its own, something that took me 20 mins to write and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Constantly on the phone to @norgans because I’d broken something or couldn’t understand what was going on!
— Grant Kirkhope (@grantkirkhope) January 25, 2023
It’s just one of the many iconic things about Rare’s game.
And whatever modern gamers make of it now, the important thing to remember is how influential Goldeneye 007 remains. This was a genuine game-changer on the Nintendo 64.
We’ll always have a soft spot for it—all those hours spent indoors (instead of frolicking about outside) gunning down enemies (and our friends in multi-player mode).
You can’t buy memories like that, dammit.
Nintendo is building quite a satisfying N64 collection on the Switch. But as of now I am still refusing to pay for the upper-tier online service until I see some GB and GBA games added to the package.