TURN TO CHANNEL 3: ‘GoldenEye 007’ is the movie licensed game that killed – and still does
Whatever it is you’re passionate about in life, chances are a lot of that has to do with the fond memories you have involving that particular interest. In the case of video games, there are also those games that many gamers have similar memories of, and today’s topic here on Turn to Channel 3 is a prime example of this connection we have as gamers. I’ve lost count how many customers have come into my store and said that this was the game that got them through college, which sounds hilarious I’m sure, but it really makes sense when you stop to think about it.
As we continue on during “64 September,” it is time to look at a game that did something many of us growing up with video games thought was impossible – taking a movie license and turning it into not only a quality game, but a game that would cement the Nintendo 64 as a force within the gaming world. Today’s topic is “GoldenEye 007,” a game that, at this point, is split up into two camps – those who still religiously play the title, especially with friends, despite the fact it can certainly challenge the bonds of friendship (Curse you, Oddjob!), and those who actually feel the game hasn’t aged well and just isn’t as much fun to play today as it was when they were taking a much-needed break from finals week. Let’s cue up the James Bond music, pour an alcoholic beverage that has been shaken, not stirred, and relive the splendor that is “GoldenEye 007!”
“GoldenEye 007” (N64)
For many years leading up to “GoldenEye 007,” movie licensed games failed in every way imaginable, either in bringing that same excitement the films gave us or by creating a whole new game loosely based on the film in some way. One of the clear signs a developer either knew or didn’t know the importance of the film to target gamers would be the soundtrack.
There were so many games out with soundtracks that had those iconic tunes that kind of sounded like the film’s original score, but you really had to listen close to seemingly trick yourself into accepting the mediocre attempt at it. Thankfully, in the case of this game, Rare, who truly couldn’t do wrong at this point in their illustrious pre-Microsoft enslaving careers, did what they were known to do – made quality soundtracks. Whether you are playing the single player story mode or enjoying time with friends (and foes) in the multiplayer mode, the game always got your adrenaline pumping with some great action-packed tunes. The sound effects are great as well, although I can’t really toot Rare’s horn on that, as it doesn’t seem like that big of a technological feat, even for the time period.
Certainly, both sides of the fence can be seen in the debate between whether this game has aged well or not. For its time, “GoldenEye” was a technical marvel, creating some lush and detailed environments that capture the excitement, grit, and danger of the Bond films, but I find it questionable if the blocky, highly polygonal characters have aged well after all this time. While one can accept it in context of the time period, with graphics looking as they do in 2015, it can be difficult at times to really appreciate what Rare accomplished with the technology available at the time. All of this said, not even the graphics, crude to some, impressive to others, can change the impact of this game.
One thing that is clearly undeniable is the overall fun and excitement of “GoldenEye 007.” In a lot of ways, this was one of those games that gave birth to video game tournaments, and overall just having a blast playing with friends. This is a big deal because, while many people love playing against friends online, there has been a rekindling in the desire to enjoy games like this with friends in your own home. The replay value of this game is still very high, even after all these years, which is another interesting thing considering there are way better games out there right now overall, and yet few capture the fun we all had playing this one.
The controls in “GoldenEye” are responsive, not excessive or difficult to grasp, and the object of the game, whether in single player or multiplayer, is straightforward and easy while offering enough challenge to keep you coming back for more. Are there better games on the Nintendo 64? Well, that’s absolutely a debate worth having, but few are quite as well-rounded as this legendary title from Rare.
In many ways, “GoldenEye 007” is the first game people think of when they think of the N64, because it was one of those games that seemingly transcended the console and video games in general that didn’t have one of those all-too-familiar Nintendo mascots starring in it. Obviously, as I have stated before, any game with multiplayer elements that is still being played in tournaments today definitely has staying power, and while it’s not as visually appealing as it was in its prime, it has still aged well enough where gamers are still pining for the chance to blast friends (and foes) while looking as dashing as James Bond.
Video games have more than just a history – they have a culture, one that is constantly changing, but “GoldenEye 007” cemented itself as a part of that culture at a time when licensed video games were largely laughed at and ignored by most gamers. Rare made people stand up and take notice that, in the right hands, a licensed video game could do more than just entertain and remind people of the tie-in material. It can literally change the way we look at video games.
Well, that does it for me. If you think today’s game challenged the bonds of friendship, you haven’t seen anything yet. The next game nearly pushes things over the edge. Until then, enjoy the coming fall, and remember to always game on!
Note: All ratings for Turn to Channel 3 are based on a scale of 1-10.
by Nick DeMarco
Nick DeMarco is a blogger, retro video game small business owner, and lover of all things retro. Don't get stuck on an elevator with him, unless you know who Ace Harding is and why Crystal Pepsi deserves just as big a comeback as Surge.