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Gaming changed forever for me and a lot of people in my peer group in 1997. This was the year Rare released GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64. Now, the N64 itself is an incredible console; Some of my best gaming memories from childhood are due to this console, but no memory is quite as vivid as when I first put the cartridge in and became Bond. James Bond.
inspired by games like virtual cop And Apocalypse Rare’s novice team worked hard to create something great. Even if they didn’t know about it at that time. Featuring advanced systems such as AI NPC responses, position-dependent hit responses, and a specific target system.
So, this anniversary year, I got to attend the panel at EGX 2022 to learn more, and then, when I got home, took out my original copy of the game and settled down to take a walk down memory lane.
The game takes you through the events of the 1995 Pierce Brosnan film of the same name, albeit with some modifications to the game making and providing more variety in locations. As a single-player experience, you get to infiltrate the facility, conduct a showdown in a tank, and save the world in style. You get access to a supply of more than 20 different weapons and gadgets as you play the multiple levels. While stealth is often encouraged… sometimes you want to shoot as many hats off the guard as possible!
GoldenEye 007 was a masterpiece of its time. Three difficulty modes, challenges that unlock multiplayer options, and more.
Where the game took on a new life was in its multiplayer. Up to four people could take on characters from the franchise and race around a variety of Bond location maps to claim victory. There were special mods (only the slapstick and golden gun were the special highlights!) and if you played as Oddjob you were cheating. These were the glory days of couch-based multiplayer gaming.
It’s no surprise that GoldenEye 007 still holds a fond memory for a lot of gamers, with many still playing it today. Sure, the graphics are a bit out of date and the controls feel isolated compared to what we’re used to now, but GoldenEye 007 has nostalgia, charm, and just a solid game. There was a reason it performed so well, was rated highly, and eventually won awards!
EGX 2022 . anniversary panel on
One of the highlights of the EGX 2022 was to be the 25th anniversary panel for GoldenEye 007.
The panel featured artist Brett Jones and sports director Martin Hollis discussing the development of the game.
Martin talks about it, how it all started, how they met the cast, and once upon hearing about a game rumored; He asked to build it and was given the project. Brett, on the other hand, was fresh out of university and was made to go through a test to create a moving camera arc. He found out the reason for this only a few months ago! Despite the team’s inexperience, and the fact that it was a ‘franchise game’, it was easy to recruit for. You just need to ask them to work on a Bond game.
Originally the team had no idea how the Nintendo 64 would work, or any of the technology involved. So basically the design document talked about how they could tie the consoles together to allow multiplayer. Brett explained how the process never felt pressured for the team. (Martin felt it though! and remembered how he was told via a long fax to miss the deadline.)
The entire game was built from scratch. Brett had to model everything and was limited in polygons and textures, due to the technology of the time. He pointed out that later in development, he had to use fewer polygons, which is why Mishkin, for example, has a triangular-shaped head.
To create the game, the team used a lot of motion capture, and the suit was never washed! Brett recalled how the game had over 1000 animations, which meant a lot of ways one would have to be recreated in order to hit them. The animation of being pulled backward was done by tying a rope to someone’s waist and physically pulling them! When he tried to mo-cap the opening walk, each time it looked like he was lame, so Brett had to manually edit the capture to make it look right.
It was amazing how the game came together (and looked so cool for the era) when there was no possibility to research anything online. Set visits, a library of books, and studio visits were the only ways to get the texture and design. Martin explains how it took the team a lot of effort just to adopt email!
It was surprising to the team how much Bond music was incorporated into the game. While the pair admitted that they paid too much for the license, the sound team’s ingenuity to take snippets and create entire tracks was technically phenomenal. It was important that the music was included because it brought the Bond DNA into the game which, as the developers put it, it emotionally connects you to it. Assures you that you are Bond while playing. It was a shame they had to remove three previous Bonds from multiplayer for licensing reasons, but not before the Office Farewell Tournament!
One of the interesting things to learn was that the game was originally planned to have the opening credits but unfortunately, had to be cut because it was only 12MB ROM!
Despite Goldeneye 007’s cult status, the development team never felt they had anything special on their hands. It was a game made in a time with less technical ability than it is today. At the grounds of a barn the Rare team built something that really defined the generation. Overall, the panel was a fun and engaging insight into the world of game development for one of the best games of all time.
Final Thoughts on 25 Years of GoldenEye 007
If you can still play it today, I urge you this anniversary year to blow the dust off your cartridges and re-live some of the gaming glory days. This is one of the greatest video games of all time. If you don’t have the original, you can soon watch GoldenEye 007 on Nintendo Switch Online and Xbox Game Pass. Also, be sure to watch the documentary about this amazing game online!
Happy 25th GoldenEye 007 and 60th James Bond.