It was an unassuming month for the Nintendo 64 when Goldeneye first released in August, 1997. Two games debuted on the console during that time: one was Tetrisphere, a 3D spherical version of the seminal Russian puzzle sensation of the 1980s that was destined for Atari’s ill-fated Jaguar home console, before Nintendo secured the rights for the game and it switched to the N64.
The other game was Goldeneye. Released to very little fanfare, with barely more than a quiet E3 showing and limited magazine exposure in the lead up to release; nobody in the gaming press much expected a movie tie-in game -much less one releasing two years after the movie it was based on- to come to all that much. This was, after all, a notorious type of game to release. Often rushed, with shallow gameplay, the tie-in games had a well founded reputation for poor quality.
And yet, as word of mouth spread about the solid gameplay bound to this new game brimming with secrets, Goldeneye soon became the talk of the town. At the time, games that took advantage of all 4 controller ports on the N64 were few and far between, and while titles like Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey and International Superstar Soccer 64 gave sportsfans a 4-player party experience and Mario Kart 64 was dominating the multiplayer racing genre, action titles were still waiting for that big standout hit. StarFox 64 (known in PAL console regions as Lylat Wars) was a critical and commercial success, but unlike its singleplayer, the game’s multiplayer failed to conquer that prized real estate on the floor infront of TVs around the world.
This was the environment into which Goldeneye was unleashed. Taking over living rooms and college dorms everywhere, its legacy endures to this day, with devoted fans of both the singleplayer campaign and the fast-paced multiplayer being forged in those early days of flying bullets and blood-soaked body armour. So here’s to you, Goldeneye. Now pass me the Golden Gun, because somebody just picked Oddjob….