Nick DeMarco

TURN TO CHANNEL 3: ‘Perfect Dark’ is a nearly perfect N64 shooter for ‘Goldeneye’ fans

TURN TO CHANNEL 3: ‘Perfect Dark’ is a nearly perfect N64 shooter for ‘Goldeneye’ fans
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

In the 1990s, gamers were in frenzy over “GoldenEye 007,” in large part to it bucking the trend that had been in place for years that seemingly any movie tie-in game was atrocious. Of course, we all know that “GoldenEye” is still considered one of the must-have titles in any Nintendo 64 collection, but what about its spiritual successor, using that first-person perspective and keeping that multiplayer vibe that we were still hungry for, yet taking the golden gun from the hands of James Bond?

Well, that’s the game we are covering today on Turn to Channel 3 as part of “64 September” – “Perfect Dark!”

“Perfect Dark” (N64)


Debatably, some may find “Perfect Dark’s” adrenaline pumping, futuristic soundtrack to actually be better than “GoldenEye 007,” and I have to agree, as the soundtrack fuels the sense of urgency that carries on throughout the game, with the addition of sound effects like gunfire, bullets whizzing by your head, and the agonizing (albeit hilarious at times) sounds of fallen enemies. “Perfect Dark’s” action-packed adventure is, well, perfectly complemented by this stellar soundtrack.


While showing its age with the repetitious cookie cutter feel of its levels, cut scenes still look pretty smooth and, while blocky, characters still look better than many polygonal games of the sort during that time. In fact, I’d still say the intro to the first level is among the more iconic things you’ll see on the Nintendo 64.

In 2000, espionage games like this were not as key as they would become, and “Perfect Dark” showed us that there was definitely a need and a gamer base that wanted more after learning the ins and outs of “GoldenEye.”


Consider the ante upped from the days of “GoldenEye 007” with a four-player multiplayer that allows you to take CPU-controlled “simulants” and customize them with a wide variety of behaviors, from preying on the weak to hoarding weapons. In addition, co-op play invites a friend along as you take down the bad guys, and it records your best times over three skill levels.

The campaign mode also has some unique twists and turns along the way. If only there wasn’t frame rate lag during hectic battles, eyestrain from the night vision goggles, and nauseating feelings from navigating stairwells and tight spaces. Maybe, as I’ve aged, I just can’t ignore these details as easily as I could in my teens.


Looking back at these games of the past, none of them are perfect now, and many weren’t then, but “Perfect Dark” took something established by “GoldenEye 007” and took it a step further by sprinkling its own distinct kind of fun and variety into the experience. Despite some graphic and control issues, “Perfect Dark” is still an absolute blast to play and is a fond reminder of when all we could do was take a game over a friend’s house and play to truly enjoy a game to its fullest extent.

Now, 17 years later, this is still true of tapping into what makes “Perfect Dark” a must-have for any N64 collection. Keep in mind, an N64 expansion pack is required to really get everything this game has to offer, but it is so worth it.

Thanks for joining me! Next week, we finish up this month of N64 fun with “Pokémon Stadium!”

Until then, make a great day of gaming, won’t you? Game on!

Tune in to NEPA Scene’s gaming column, Turn to Channel 3, every Thursday for new perspectives on retro gaming as well as fresh twists on the classics. All ratings for Turn to Channel 3 are based on a scale of 1-10.