James Bond has always been a standout character in both books and films, but did you know that his breakthrough video game celebrates its 20th anniversary this year? GoldenEye 007 arrived on August 25, 1997 for the Nintendo 64 and boosted the Bond franchise in video gaming in a way that has not been seen since.
The game was developed by the folks at Rare, otherwise known for their work on the likes of Donkey Kong Country and Banjo Kazooie, and spent about two and a half years in development. Based on the 1995 film, GoldenEye’s single-player story followed James Bond as he sought to prevent criminals from using the titular satellite weapon against London – so, essentially the plot of the movie.
It was in the multiplayer modes, however, where GoldenEye 007 shined brightest. Allowing for split-screen matches with up to four players, the game featured a number of different deathmatch modes that were named for other Bond films: You Only Live Twice, The Living Daylights, The Man With the Golden Gun, and License to Kill. The names implied certain rules about each modes; for instance, The Man With the Golden Gun had a single Golden Gun available on the map, and the player who got ahold of it could kill any other player in a single shot. And You Only Live Twice limited players to two lives before being eliminated.
GoldenEye 007 was a significant critical and commercial success upon its launch, ultimately becoming the third-bestselling Nintendo 64 game. But its legacy goes far beyond simple numbers; GoldenEye managed to legitimize first-person shooters on home consoles as a viable option in a way that hadn’t been seen before. The game’s depth also marked the genre starting to shift away from the style of first-person gameplay seen in the likes of Doom and Quake.
In the years since GoldenEye’s release, it has retrospectively been looked upon as one of the greatest and most influential video games of all time, largely in part to the multiplayer aspect. Rare developed Perfect Dark for the N64 as somewhat of a spiritual successor to GoldenEye (it used the same game engine). A remake of the original, called GoldenEye 007 on the Wii and referred to as GoldenEye Reloaded on the PS3 and Xbox 360, released between 2010-2011 – interestingly, it featured Daniel Craig in the leading role, and the story was shifted tonally to match the more recent Bond films as well.