It's a random Thursday night and the dorm room is packed. A group of friends find themselves huddled around the TV, its soft glow the only light as they trade headshots and grenades with one another on-screen. Shots fired. Enemies down. Pizza slices on paper plates, cups filled with soda and beer, and maybe some music thumping away in the background. The year? 1998.
By Robert Marrujo:: That's the year Nintendo and Rare unleashed GoldenEye 007 on an unsuspecting world. At the time, anyone who wanted to play a solid, engaging first-person shooter had to own a PC. Home consoles simply didn't offer those sorts of experiences needed a keyboard and mouse for the sort of precision that shooters required. Rare didn't agree.
GoldenEye had long been gestating at Nintendo. The Japanese developer had sought and finally acquired the rights to produce a video game based on the James Bond movie of the same name. Initially there was interest in bringing the game to SNES and utilizing the prerendered graphical style of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy. That plan was nixed early on, though the studio in question, Rare, remained in the driver's seat. The game transformed into a 3D first-person shooter/adventure game, taking cues from a myriad of different titles as disparate as Super Mario 64 and Virtua Cop. Though it came out long after the movie which it was based on, GoldenEye landed with a triumphant splash.
What might be hard to believe in a gaming landscape dominated by the likes of Call of Duty and Overwatch is that neither of those franchises would probably exist as they are today if not for GoldenEye. Rare's masterpiece was a sea change for the industry. Suddenly, not only were home consoles a viable platform for first-person shooters, but they were now at the epicenter of huge social and competitive gatherings around them.
Titles like Halo, Metroid Prime, and more took the basic blueprint of GoldenEye and expanded and innovated upon it. It was proof positive that shooters didn't have to simply be mindless corridors of foes to mow down with shotguns. Instead, developers were free to incorporate genuine exploration, platforming, and more into their first-person games. With the advent of online multiplayer, developers also began to lay the groundwork for today's eSports scene with the DNA of GoldenEye at its core.
Sadly, GoldenEye remains landlocked on Nintendo 64. When Rare and Nintendo parted ways in 2002, the former went on to become an exclusive studio with Microsoft, making it seemingly impossible to get the game properly re-released. There was a remake in the form of GoldenEye 007 on Wii and GoldenEye 007: Reloaded which saw release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but despite being fun games in their own rights, none of them truly came close to the fun of the original. There are rumors that Nintendo is going to release a Nintendo 64 Classic at some point, and with Star Fox 2 finally seeing the light of day... well, let's just hope that GoldenEye can get into the hands of a new generation of gamers.
So thanks to Rare and Nintendo for delivering one of the most important games of the past 20 years. Franchises like Halo and Call of Duty might have eclipsed the success of GoldenEye, but there's no escaping the incomparable legacy that this title has. Here's hoping that one day fans are able to experience this game on contemporary consoles. Until then, gather some buddies and track down an N64 and copy of GoldenEye to relive the glory days of late 1990s video games!