GoldenEye Turns 25!

John Argirovski,

August 29, 2022 4:27 PM

Where were you in August of 1997? The development team at RARE studio were drinking champagne and breathing a sigh of relief as GoldenEye 007, a FPS trailblazer, was FINALLY released after countless delays...

If you haven’t played this game, or better yet, heard of this game, than you must have had some really uneventful years in the late 90s and early 2000s. We are celebrating the 25th, that’s right, 25th anniversary of the release of the most influential first-person shooter EVER, GoldenEye 007 for the N64.

Hold on a second…GoldenEye Was a Movie Game?

GoldenEye (1995) UK Movie Poster
[Image Source: Wikipedia]

We all love to reminisce about the days of unforgettable four-player death matches and bragging about how we completed the entire game on the near impossible 007 difficulty level…but believe it or not, this game was inspired by the movie and the movie was released in 1995! This game was seriously delayed! But we can all agree the delay was well worth the wait.

To be completely honest, I still haven’t watched this movie. Why you might ask? I think I just don’t want to be let down because there is absolutely no way that the movie was AS GOOD as the game. But how is that possible? Aren’t movie games the absolute worst? Let’s not forget what happened to E.T The Extra Terrestrial… The game that was so bad that they removed it from the shelves due to public backlash and E.T was credited as a major contributor to the Video Game Crash of 1983.

You couldn’t blame gamers back in 1997 for skipping past this title at first glance, simply because it was a movie-based game. In fact, the gaming news media at the time had low expectations for the GoldenEye game and some of the members of the development team at RARE admittedly said that they “only saw the flaws” in the game and didn’t expect it to be such a commercial success. Boy were they wrong.

The GoldenEye film grossed $350 million USD worldwide which is very impressive. The GoldenEye game grossed $250 million USD worldwide. Wait a second, what?!? That was unheard of in the 90s for a movie-based game. Well done golden gun!

The Most Influential First-Person Shooter EVER!

For those who didn’t grow up playing this FPS trailblazer, I wouldn’t blame you for laughing at the idea that this game somehow caused a ripple in the space-time continuum and influenced the entire FPS genre. But it did and here is how it did:

  • Four player death-matches, on the same screen? Yes, Doom had multiplayer action first via online and LAN. Quake introduced “bots” into the FPS genre but these were PC-based games. A decent gaming PC in 1997 was about $2000-$3000 USD. GoldenEye for the N64 gave the world split-screen four-player death matches, without the need for an expensive PC and man were those matches epic! I still have nightmares about the trash talking I received while getting chased by the golden gun.

Four-player Death Match
[Image Source: YouTube]

  • Health Unit Display (HUD) was born. The developers wished they had trademarked this idea as it became a staple for many games in the genre going forward.

Health display on the left, Body Armor on the right Image Source: Wikipedia
Health display on the left, Body Armor on the right
[Image Source: Wikipedia]

  • Speed runs. I think all of us within the Twin Galaxy community can appreciate a good old-fashioned speed run. GoldenEye allowed players to unlock cheats by completing each level within a certain time frame on a specific difficulty level. Truly a first in the FPS genre and man were those runs exhilarating! Not easy!
Cheats Unlocked
[Image Source: GoldenEye Wiki]

  • Mission based objectives. Remember in Doom, the game felt so linear? “Get the blue card, get the yellow card, oh and I almost forgot, get the red card too.” GoldenEye’s objectives made the game feel real, and made me feel smart!

"What the hell is a covert modem? What happened to the red/yellow/blue card?”
[Image Source: GoldenEye Wiki]

  • Lots of explosions! The physics didn’t make much sense but who cares right? There wasn’t much that didn’t explode!

[Image Source:]

Final Thoughts

This game was one of those once-in-a-lifetime type experiences that you could only understand if you played it for the first time back in the late 90s. It elevated the bar, and placed that bar on another planet in comparison to previous First-Person Shooters. Playing that game was like driving a formula one racecar when all you had at that time was a tricycle. Playing 007 GoldenEye 25 years later is just not the same since the polygons look pretty rough and the frame-rate is laughable at times. But I still love it.

This game inspired incredible First-Person Shooters like the Call of Duty series and Halo among others. Even Steven Spielberg was intrigued by this game. As the story goes, Spielberg who was working on Saving Private Ryan, was watching his son play GoldenEye on the N64 and thought, “Could we turn this into a World War II game?” and Medal of Honor was born shortly after.

Cheers to 25 years GoldenEye! You changed our lives.


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