Ever since GoldenEye 007 was released over 25 years ago in 1997, it has remained a staple of the first-person shooter genre. It was amazing when the cartridge first landed in our N64s, and all things considered, has stayed enjoyable for decades. In fact, we’ve already discussed just why GoldenEye 007 is so great, but also lamented the lack of a remake or remaster.
Lo and behold, in a sort-of shadow drop, GoldenEye 007 Remastered finally made its way to Xbox consoles and the Nintendo Switch in late January of 2023. After years of waiting, the GoldenEye 007 remaster is finally here, and honestly, it’s a bit underwhelming. When you unequip your nostalgia goggles and look at what GoldenEye 007 Remastered actually offers, it’s an uneven balance of classic retro goodness and blatantly missed opportunity.
GoldenEye 007 Remastered is Fantastic and Frustrating
To settle any confusion, GoldenEye 007 Remastered is just the original N64 game, ported with some slight changes to modern consoles. On the splash screen of the Xbox version, an emblem bearing the Rare Replay logo is visible, implying that this was the version that was meant to be included in the developer’s compilation that came out back in 2015. Single-player story mode and local multiplayer are included, but that’s it.
Some fans assumed that this release was the fabled GoldenEye 007 remake that was initially planned for release on the Xbox 360 Live Arcade marketplace. Unfortunately, that’s not true. While the remake toted brand new textures, gameplay balancing, and more, it will likely never see the light of day. That said, GoldenEye 007 Remastered is still quite fun, even with its two-decade-old design.
Great Memories with GoldenEye 007
First and foremost, GoldenEye 007 Remastered appropriately appeals to the collective nostalgia of FPS fans, providing an unfettered experience that’s completely true to the original. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing the story campaign or slapping your buddies in multiplayer, GoldenEye 007 is still a fun game. Playing the remaster recalls all of those warm and fuzzy memories from the late-1990s, and while it’s pure nostalgia bait, it’s hard to argue with how effective it is.
The single-player campaign is still incredibly enjoyable, and is made even better thanks to modern controls. Sure, playing with an N64 controller is fun enough, but twin-stick controls are far superior. This remaster also features multiple control schemes, so you can fine-tune things to your liking. Iconic levels like Dam, Bunker, and Facility are just as fun as ever; graphical improvements don’t really matter when it comes to fun-factor.
Speaking of fun-factor, it’s hard to beat the hectic entertainment that comes from a good round of multiplayer. Cheat codes make things more fun, but of course, you’ll need to unlock them again. While Slappers Only stands as a benchmark for GoldenEye 007, I’ve always preferred a wild game of Proximity Mines on Facility. Unfortunately, the Xbox version only supports local multiplayer, and the Nintendo Switch’s online multiplayer leaves a bit to be desired.
Missed Opportunities and What Could've Been
That said, it’s time to be brutally honest. 25 years later, the graphics in GoldenEye 007 could use a proper upgrade. When pushed to high-definition resolutions, vanilla N64 graphics are sharp, awkward, and have a tendency to clip and flicker. GoldenEye 007 Remastered is a perfect example of that, with awkwardly meshing textures, hilarious enemy faces, and plenty of frame-rate stutters. At the very least, it’d be nice to get a consistent 60 FPS on the consoles that can support it.
While the GoldenEye 007 Remastered is fine enough on its own, we just reflect in disappointment at what could’ve been. The included Xbox achievements are nice, but it would’ve been great to see additional in-game challenges, perhaps to unlock some concept art or a music player. With how popular speedrunning has become, a leaderboard for completion times would also be a no-brainer.
Unfortunately, considering the turbulent state of the licensing and the fact that a perfectly good GoldenEye 007 remake is sitting unused, the chances are slim that our wishes will ever come true. Although it’s easy to nitpick and complain about what could’ve been, we are at least happy that we can play GoldenEye 007 without having to whip out the Nintendo 64.