Looking back at the grand history of gaming, there are few titles as influential as GoldenEye 007. Originally released on August 25, 1997, the game essentially popularized first-person shooters, as the genre was mostly a PC-only affair at the time. Developed by Rare, an incredibly talented studio that is indisputably one of the all-time greats, GoldenEye 007 became synonymous with the Nintendo 64.
As this seminal shooter passes its 25-year anniversary, we’re taking a look back at GoldenEye 007 and celebrating exactly what made the game so special. From how it revolutionized the first-person shooter genre to the memories it helped forge, it’s hard to deny just how special this game is. In fact, it’s one of the few games to receive a modern remake/remaster, a perplexing fact that we hope to shed some light on. Let’s take a deeper look at GoldenEye 007 as we gush about one of our favorite Nintendo 64 masterpieces.
"When discussing the GoldenEye 007 remaster, it's hard to nail down any facts, and rampant speculation continues to this day."
GoldenEye 007: Celebrating 25 Years of FPS
While GoldenEye 007 is an unforgettable game for those who grew up with it, as the decades go by, it’s likely that newer gamers might be completely unaware of its existence. For the uninitiated, GoldenEye 007 is a first-person shooter based on the seventeenth film in the James Bond movie franchise, GoldenEye. Although licensed games are often still lackluster, games based on movies had an even worse reputation in the 1980s and 1990s, but GoldenEye 007 bucked the trend. Released two years after the film, this classic FPS title is often considered better than the movie it’s based on.
GoldenEye 007 sticks close to the story told in the film, but adds plenty of original content to surprise faithful fans. Just like in the film, GoldenEye 007 tracks James Bond as he battles the Janus crime syndicate, forcing him to outwit both enemies and previous allies. There are eighteen story levels (plus two secret levels) playable across four different difficulty settings, with each higher difficulty adding new objectives to complete. In GoldenEye 007, you blast through enemies while also attempting to complete specific objectives that require quick-thinking and expert use of your gadgets.
Although the story mode in GoldenEye 007 received plenty of praise, especially for its realistic character animations and excellent level design, it was the multiplayer that sold the experience for most. Nowadays, we’re spoiled with online matchmaking and extensive multiplayer systems, but in 1997, you needed to grab your friends and sit down on the couch for some local multiplayer competition. Luckily, GoldenEye 007 rivaled all other FPS games with its multiplayer suite, offering 10 maps, various playable characters, and a long list of wacky cheat codes to enable. Thanks to its availability on home consoles, GoldenEye 007 quickly became the quintessential multiplayer game anytime a group of friends gathered around the Nintendo 64.
The GoldenEye 007 Legacy
While it sounds pretty simple on the surface, that was really the charm of GoldenEye 007. While other FPS games like DOOM required multiple PCs on the same local network for multiplayer sessions, GoldenEye 007 was readily available if you had a Nintendo 64 and a few controllers. The single-player story mode was also a perfect example of how licensed games based on films could succeed, assuming the developers had a bit of creativity and the passion to make a fun experience. Through its simplicity and wide-reaching appeal thanks to the James Bond branding, GoldenEye 007 earned its place as not only a fantastic Nintendo 64 game, but as a cornerstone in the emerging FPS genre.
The success of GoldenEye 007 also launched Rare’s popularity moving into the 64-bit era, earning the studio a reputation for putting out high-quality games that were worth a purchase. While Rare had plenty of success in the early-1990s with classic hits like Donkey Kong Country, Battletoads, and Killer Instinct, GoldenEye 007 marked the early start of their domination on the Nintendo 64. Refusing to rest on their laurels, Rare went on to develop numerous certified classics on the N64, including Banjo-Kazooie, Diddy Kong Racing, Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and many more.
Of course, there have been numerous attempts to cash in on the legacy of GoldenEye 007 in the years since, but most of them are dead on arrival. In the decade after the release of GoldenEye 007, ten different James Bond games were released, including unexpected spin-offs like 007 Racing for the PlayStation. While a few of them were decent games in their own right, none were able to surpass the exceptionally high bar that GoldenEye 007 set. Video games based on the James Bond license slowed down in the late-2000s, but in 2010, a “reimagined” version of GoldenEye 007 was released for home consoles. Generally seen as a disappointment and mediocre cash grab, it was panned by critics and fans alike, putting the proverbial nail in the coffin for James Bond games.
Where's the GoldenEye 007 Remaster?
Considering the recent industry trend of releasing graphical remasters of iconic games to cash in on nostalgia, it’s surprising that GoldenEye 007 hasn’t received a similar treatment. However, since the days of the Xbox Live Arcade on Xbox 360, the rumor mill has been churning about a potential GoldenEye 007 remaster. While many fans claimed that Nintendo would never let an N64 game be re-released on systems like the Xbox or PlayStation, those naysayers were proved wrong when ports of both Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark arrived on the Xbox 360 in 2008 and 2010. After that, a remaster of GoldenEye 007 seemed all but certain.
Despite the fact that everyone was asking for it and it would’ve made a boatload of money, the remaster of GoldenEye 007 never saw the light of day. For years, fans argued over whether or not it was ever in production, but things got interesting in 2021. Footage of a leaked GoldenEye 007 remaster began to crop up online, while the entire game leaked online in early 2022. However, there was still no word on an official release from any company associated with the license. Recently, even the game’s list of Xbox achievements has been picked up by trustworthy websites, confirming the game’s existence within the Xbox marketplace.
When discussing the GoldenEye 007 remaster, it’s hard to nail down any facts, and rampant speculation continues to this day. With that said, it’s very likely that it exists, is essentially completed, and is sitting in a weird release limbo at the moment. As GoldenEye 007 celebrates its 25th anniversary and the James Bond film franchise celebrates its 60th anniversary, it seems like now would be a good time to release it. It’s an amazing game that’s still loads of fun, and younger generations deserve to enjoy the game with the power of modern gaming tech. Without GoldenEye 007, the FPS genre may have never truly taken hold in the home console market, and for that, we owe it our thanks.