games / Columns

The Retronomicon 06.28.13: Goldeneye 64

June 28, 2013 | Posted by Stewart Lange

Hey everyone, welcome back to another edition of the newly hosted, new look Retronomicon! Quite happily last week, although after my deadline for writing this, I heard from the former host, Lee Price. Happily, Lee likes what I’ve done so far and I’m hoping you lot do as well. The feedback I’ve had so far has been great, so please continue to share your feelings, good or bad! Your comments are greatly appreciated! I’m going to run with a reader request this week and next week my wife has suggested a game for me to cover (wait and see), but I also want a good stockpile of games to cover. If I need to do a bumper edition, then so be it!

This week I continue to struggle along with why everyone in the world is better at Animal Crossing than I am. Everyone on my friends list is blasting ahead with huge houses and islands. The highlight of my week was losing my shovel and buying a new one. I’m getting there. I’m still struggling to get into anything since State of Decay on my 360 as I can’t get back into finishing FarCry 3 having put it down for too long. I blame AG Awesome for suggesting an N64 classic to keep me busy with in my down time. I mean, research time. Given that he’s the highest rank comment-leaver guy on 411, I felt it’s about time that was recognised.

So, AG, here it is. At your request, to thank you for all of your comments on the site, I played Goldeneye 64 all week. Don’t say we’re not good to you here at 411mania, for all your pop culture needs.

When I opted to cover Crazy Taxi last week, I had no idea that so many of you would agree with my sentiment that driving games just aren’t fun any more! We had Tek kick things off with I’ve only ever played this game on arcade machines, but I dont imagine it to be that different to the console version. I loved it however, as a ‘time waster’ or as a ‘want to try something different’ this is as good a game as any back in the day. I think driving games in particular have evolved the most over the years. I think the days of a true arcade racer like: ridge racer, v-rally, etc… are long gone and we have now entered an era of simulators and realism, which to me is sad to see because I had the most fun on games like crazy taxi, micro machines, etc… games that didnt punish you too heavily for being bad at them. They were all about having fun with your mates, rather than competing with your mates. In terms of game difficulty I think thats a generation thing… Games of the present are easy compared to the games I used to play when I was a lot younger.
P.S the soundtrack is the shit! Almost as good as Tony Hawks.

Totally agree with every single word of that, as did sdelfin and Jeff Bailey. The fact is that while racing sims are still fun, they just don’t have the same “one more shot for the high score” fun factor that games used to have. The closest I’ve found lately is the Xbox Live black sheep Harms Way, a free download that is so fun you won’t care if you finish in eighth. Out of six.

I do owe mmf an apology, though: the soundtrack is all the offspring and bad religion, pennywise don’t have a song on the game. All I Want (Offspring), 
Way Down the Line (Offspring), Change the World (Offspring), 
Ten in 2010 (Bad Religion) , Them and Us (Bad Religion), Inner Logic (Bad Religion). Fair enough, man. I’m not sure what caused that brainfart, it just felt right as I was typing it. You are, of course, totally correct and I’m not sure why I wrote that.

We finish up with Radcliffe saying Played Crazy Taxi in an arcade, loved it that much I actually went and bought a Dreamcast the same day. Man, I’m sure it wasn’t only you. I saw the intro video for Shenmue and bought one, but I’ve maybe spent as long playing Crazy Taxi as that game. I also bet if you hadn’t bought the console you’d have pushed about $200 into the machine anyway, right?

This week, as I said, I’ll be covering Goldeneye 64 at the request of AG Awesome. If you owned, or knew someone that owned, or were anywhere near an N64 around 1997-1999, you’ll have played Goldeneye. Hell, if you’ve played a video game and are older than 15 years old, you’ve played this game. In fact, I’ll just call a spade a spade and that if you’re reading a column on retro gaming, you probably have a copy of this in your house. Goldeneye 64 was truly one of the defining games of the generation and more than any other N64 game, had a lasting and noticeable impact on gaming as we know it today.

THE STORY

Have you seen the movie? Surely you have. Despite the fact that Pierce Brosnan was a sucky James Bond, the film was the best of his three outings and much better than anything starring Timothy Dalton. And Quantum of Solace. If you’ve not, well, I’ll explain. Old Jimmy has to stop the bad guys, this outing being the Soviet Russians, from causing a financial crisis with their satellite weapon codenamed as Goldeneye. The first level takes place in 1986 Russia with James and his 00-chum Alec Trevelyan plant charges at a dam. A few years later, he meets a girl called Natalya, then another couple of years pass and Bond investigates a missile launch in Kyrgyztsan which is cover for the launch of the satellite.

Seem a bit vague and disjointed so far? Well, to be honest, it was. The movie sums it all up much easier but hey. The major plot points are covered- Alec is missing presumed dead, James means Natalya, satellite is launched.

Got it? Good.

Prison cells, rooftops, elevators, secret bases and jungles, the game (and movie, I guess) takes some wild turns as you shoot your way through loads of evil henchmen and Russian bad guys to ultimately defeat your former friend Alec- who by the way, not only isn’t dead, but now eeeeeeevil- and save the world. All that, and I bet he even finds the time for some Hot Coffee.

THE AFTERMATH

To fully understand the impact Goldeneye had on video games, we need to rewind to the release of the movie in 1995. The game was initially commissioned as a side-scrolling shooter for the SNES, but when the “Ultra 64″ was sent to developers, plans were changed and plan A was scrapped. Goldeneye 64 as we know it began it’s life as a Time Crisis clone (just an aside…… I can’t think of any lightgun games for the N64- can you?) but as they played with the development, the game expanded to the shooter that became a game changer. The interesting thing here? The game DID NOT preview well and was all set to be a total bust.

As we all know, the game changed the FPS genre and changed the way that this style of games were played. With the emphasis being equally on the multiplayer mode to the single player campaign, we weren’t looking at the “new” Doom….. we were looking at the “father” of Call of Duty. Goldeneye went on to become the third highest selling game on the N64, and had the developers not been given “free reign” to play with the coding, they would not have even stumbled onto the fact that the race to find the rocket launcher is much more fun when it’s your friend of sibling that you’re going to blow up with it. Many awards, plaudits and a glowing reputation were all extremely well deserved, no matter how unexpected they were.

MY THOUGHTS

Back in the day, I never owned an N64. My friends had one and I got to play a fair amount on it, but I always wound up getting the MadCatz controller, which as we all know, never worked quite as well as the real pad, so I’d always end up as the whipping boy (my excuse and I’m sticking to it). It was nothing like I’d ever played before, as I was too young to have really given much scope to play Doom or Wolfenstein and while I wanted to like it, I just wasn’t good enough at Quake to really get into it. When I started to earn my own money, I picked up an N64 and now have over 100 games for it, including a mint in box Goldeneye and an unboxed cart (with “Andy” written on it in marker pen. Thanks for ruining my cart, Andy, you dick) that I can play without feeling like I’m spoiling it. I’m really not great at it, even after all of these years but you know, whenever I have people round, they spot the N64 and ask if I have Goldeneye. That just shows you how that, other than probably Mario Kart, there has never been a more fun game to play with your friends in the room and given the rise of online gaming, there probably never will be again.

The game has, understandably, struggled to age well, with the faces of the bad guys rendered with extreme polygonal features, but at the time it looked great. The name characters did, and kind of still do, look like the actors that portrayed them due to the N64’s capability to map the faces, but a fun game is always a fun game no matter what it looks like and that’s what is so endearing about this classic. Like I said above, it’s just that good a feeling to win the race to find the rocket launcher and actually see the look of panic in the face of your friend sitting right next to you as they desperately try and get you with their pistol before you blow the shit out of them. In the game, I mean.

RETRO COLLECTING

A copy of Goldeneye shouldn’t be too rare, given how well it sold around the world, but it’s still a desirable cart so expect to pay around $6/£4 on your online sites like eBay or Amazon, but it’s a fairly common find in charity and thrift shops. Fully boxed copies can go for up to $30/£25 given the right climate,

Love retro collecting? Me too! Share your best finds with me in the comments section or on Instagram! My user name is Outafterdark216 and I always post my newest pick ups!

I had a really slow week on the collecting front, with only three titles coming my way. Still, for those to be Pokemon Black, Mario Party 5 for the Gamecube and Killing Time for the 3DO, I don’t think it’s all bad. Killing Time is phenomenal and I’m thinking I’ll cover a 3DO game in the next couple of weeks, if it’s all the same to you guys.

THE END

Thanks for joining me once again for a look back at the daddy of the modern FPS! Sorry there wasn’t a Retronomicon Supplement this week but a busy work week and having to sort out the final part of a house move will eat up your time. Just like Animal Crossing. That will eat up your time, too. Hope you’ve enjoyed the column, feel free to keep suggesting games or features you’d like to see implemented!

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Stewart Lange

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