1997: 10 Things You May Not Know About GOLDENEYE 007 (Nintendo 64)

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Geek Dave is designed for N64 Rumble Pak...


1. As movie tie-ins go, GoldenEye 007 was pretty late to the party. Pierce Brosnan's debut Bond film had been released in 1995 and his second, Tomorrow Never Dies, was due to premiere a couple of months after this game made it into stores. But work had actually begun on the game before Goldeneye the film was released. However, rather than trying to release the game in tandem with the movie, the publishers Rare took the decision to give the developers as much time as they needed to finish the game. And so GoldenEye 007 had an unusually long development process (especially so for the era) of two and a half years!

2. Amazingly, eight of the ten developers working on Goldeneye 007 had never previously worked on a video game before! As programmer David Doak recalls,
"Looking back, there are things I'd be wary of attempting now, but as none of the people working on the code, graphics, and game design had worked on a game before, there was this joyful naïveté."
3. When development began Goldeneye 007 was intended to be released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (what would be the Nintendo 64 was still some 18 months away at the time). Due to the success of Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007 was originally suggested as a 2D side-scrolling platformer. This soon morphed into an on-rails shooter similar to Sega's light gun game Virtua Cop. But Martin Hollis, the director and producer of the game, decided it should be "a 3D shooting game" for Nintendo's in-development "Ultra 64" console.


4. The development team visited the studios of the GoldenEye film whilst it was in production to collect photographs and blueprints of the sets used in the movie. This was then used to create virtual environments for the game, for added realism. However, many of the missions were extended or modified to allow the player to participate in sequences which the film's James Bond did not. Programmer Karl Hilton explained,
"We tried to stick to [the reference material] for authenticity but we weren't afraid of adding to it to help the game design. It was very organic."
5. Many of the levels in the game were first designed without any objective set in mind. Only after the levels were created did the designers go back and try to decide the player's starting positions, enemy locations, and objective placements. This is the reason many levels in the game seem to have rooms or areas without any obvious purpose. According to Martin Hollis,
"The benefit of this sloppy unplanned approach was that many of the levels in the game have a realistic and non-linear feel. There are rooms with no direct relevance to the level. There are multiple routes across the level. This is an anti-game design approach, frankly. It is inefficient because much of the level is unnecessary to the gameplay. But it contributes to a greater sense of freedom, and also realism. And in turn this sense of freedom and realism contributed enormously to the success of the game."
6. At one point in GoldenEye's development, reloading your weapon was going to be triggered by removing and reinserting the N64 Rumble Pack as if you were removing a magazine on a gun. This idea was discarded at Nintendo's behest


7. Final Nintendo 64 specifications and development workstations were not initially available to Rare, so a modified Sega Saturn was used for some early playtesting. The developers had to estimate what the finalised console's capabilities would be. It turned out that the final Nintendo 64 hardware could render polygons faster than the workstations they had been using, adding to the smoothness of the game.

8. Every Goldeneye 007 cartridge produced contains a fully functional ZX Spectrum emulator with ten Rare developed games. This function was originally made as an experimental side project by Rare staff and was deactivated in the final build of the game, but has since been unlocked through fan-made patches.

9. Goldeneye 007's entire multiplayer mode was made in a month as a complete afterthought by programmer Steve Ellis. The management at Rare did not even know he was developing a multiplayer mode until they were shown a complete, working product. According to Ellis,
"Since the game was already late by that time, if we hadn't done it that way, it probably never would have happened."

10. During a speech made in 2004, Martin Hollis from Rare revealed that GoldenEye 007 was expected to fail miserably upon launch, after a poor reception at the 1997 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Atlanta. Not only was the game a first-person shooter on a console system (unheard of at the time), it was also a movie license (which were frequently poor) and was being released over two years after the actual movie came out.

However, Goldeneye 007 was highly acclaimed by the gaming media upon release and went on to sell over eight million copies worldwide, making it the third-best-selling Nintendo 64 game (behind Super Mario 64, and Mario Kart 64).

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