Fifteen years ago, GoldenEye 007 arrived on the Nintendo 64. It was 1997 and Nintendo fans were still clamoring for all 120 Power Stars in Super Mario 64 and eagerly awaiting The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I remember exactly where I was when I received Rareware’s diamond in the rough. I was standing in a Toys R Us with my family. I was only nine-years-old at the time but my father had been sneaking around the aisles, hiding something from me with a smile on his face. I knew nothing about James Bond. My father had obviously watched the film, GoldenEye. Endless play sessions ensued between the two of us.
Hours upon hours of multiplayer would lead to me playing subsequent Bond games and thankfully, more first-person-shooters. Most of all, that one game would, unbeknownst to me until recently, launch my passion for British culture and it has led to the life choices I am currently making today. In the winter following the release of GoldenEye 007, my dad took me to see the next Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies. A Halloween costume and several movies later (including the film, GoldenEye), culture was becoming more prevalent in my life.
I became attracted to British accents, particularly Callum Blue’s of Smallville fame. I then became a fan of the BBC’s Merlin. Eventually, I knew that my love of particular sci-fi serials would lead me to Doctor Who. I now find myself chasing after a career in TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages) that will take me to the one place I feel destined to visit: Europe. This all began with the love of my father and a video game that broke the mold of licensed video games.
My dad playing GoldenEye on N64 in 2011
GoldenEye 007 had a substantial single-player mode but the game is most remembered for its multiplayer action. Complex, Library, Facility, Bunker… These maps became legendary and if it was not for Rareware, 2010’s GoldenEye 007 would not exist. The long list of multiplayer characters to choose from was staggering. The iconic sounds of levels, hidden walls, weapons, remote mines being stacked upon each other, throwing knives, dying and the menus, still remain in my mind. I can still hear the music playing at the start of Statue Park.
GoldenEye spawned a spiritual successor in Perfect Dark, partly inspired Electronic Arts’ GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, and led to Eurocom’s 2010 reimagining along with a re-mastering on other consoles. In addition, the Half-Life community created a mod entitled, GoldenEye: Source. The legacy of the original N64 classic follows through all the way to the present day as developers scramble for the next big multiplayer game, climbing the totem pole of beloved experiences. Nintendo fans played GoldenEye, PC gamers had Counter-Strike, Xbox players had Halo: Combat Evolved and Sony fans had SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs.
GoldenEye‘s campaign was a satisfying one that expanded the film’s locales and contained guns, guns and more guns. Rareware really took the James Bond license and ran with it. Mission-adding difficulty levels, DK and Paintball modes, 20 single-player levels, 11 multiplayer maps… This game took over our lives in much of the way Call of Duty does with gamers today. Aside from the 1997 title and its 2010 remake, I played 5 additional 007 Nintendo games on everything from Game Boy to GameCube. Next to Mario, Bond has always ruled my Nintendo roost and I owe it all to my dad and GoldenEye. Fifteen years is a long time; my brother was just 2-years-old when Pierce Brosnan (the actor who played the British spy) graced the game’s unforgettable box art.
The time to reflect on GoldenEye could not be more appropriate as this year is the James Bond franchise’s 50th anniversary, October 5th to be exact. Falling skies will ensue as our favorite British secret agent returns to theatres after a prolonged hiatus. Much like with the aforementioned Doctor Who, 007 has had many incarnations going back to the 1960s. An outsider may look at a first-person-shooter and shake their head in disapproval but even an FPS can inspire something deep within oneself, awakening a desire to widen one’s cultural awareness.