The Nintendo 64 was a great machine. Nintendo chose to stay with cartridges with the 64 instead of rivals which were using CDs because of piracy concerns. However, they still managed to grab a large part of the games market and the system had some fantastic games.
I have a lot of fond memories of that machine. I was in my first year at University on it’s release but had enough saved from working part time to purchase the system just after release. On release I made the decision to also purchase an additional 3 controllers to take advantage of the systems 4 controller ports.
This proved to be a great decision. The Nintendo 64, power cables, 4 controllers and a few games would easily fit into a backpack. So I regularly played the game at home with friends or take it around to my friends home for some multiplayer mayhem.
The system had it’s fair share of great multiplayer games including Mario Kart 64, WWF No Mercy (and it’s predecessors WCW/nWo Revenge and WWF Wrestlemania 2000), Super Smash Bros and International Superstar Soccer 98. However, the best multiplayer game is without doubt GoldenEye 007.
Earlier First Person Shooters (FPS) like Wolfenstein 3D and Quake had been released on consoles by the time GoldenEye had arrived. They were good games but not great games.
Developed by Rare, GoldenEye 007 set the benchmark for console FPS games for years to come and is one of the best games released for the Nintendo 64 (probably tied with Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time). It was an anomaly in many respects.
First of all, it was a game based on a movie which was actually good. There have been many great movie tie-ins but the majority of games based on films are either average or just plain awful. Rare didn’t make the mistake of rushing the development of GoldenEye 007 though, with it being released 2 years after the film. Because of this, they were able to get the game exactly how they wanted.
Secondly, the game was not only a great multiplayer game, the one player game was amazing too. The one player game matched the films storyline and was able to get the right balance of action, adventure and a good storyline. It’s no surprise that the game was well received by critics and gamers alike and it went on to sell more than 8 million copies.
In one player mode you had a list of missions to achieve like collecting items or taking out key targets. You were required to complete these in order to proceed but you could do the missions in a number of ways i.e. you could use stealth tactics to sneak around and complete the objective or you could go gun hoe and blast your way through the level. There were also some cool cut scenes which mimicked key moments in the film.
You could use sniper rifles, pistols, laser guns, double weapons, knives and more.
However, the game really shone in multiplayer mode. You could play with 2, 3 or even 4 players at the same time. There were a variety of game modes in mutliplayer, most of which could be played in in the free for all setting or in teams.
The normal setting was a team mode. You could player 2 vs 2, 1 vs 2 and 3 vs 1. The winners are simply the team who racked up the most kills. There were some more interesting modes though. You Only Live Twice was the same as normal mode except you only had two lives, so players were usually a bit more cautious.
The Living Daylights was a flag type game whereas Licence to Kill was a free for all game which any hit (including slaps) killed your opponent.
Another popular mode was The Man With the Golden Gun. In that mode there is one Golden Gun on the map. Whoever gets the gun can kill another player with one shot, regardless of where they hit them, regardless of how much health they have and even if they are wearing body armour. The person with the Golden Gun cannot pick up body armour and they also show up on other players screens as a blue dot so they cannot hide. If they are killed, the gun is dropped where they died and someone else can pick the gun up.
Mario and Zelda were the best one player games on the Nintendo 64 in my opinion and although I enjoyed THQs wrestling games for multiplayer action, GoldenEye 007 was by far and away the most enjoyable. There really was nothing as satisfying as killing your friends repeatedly.
The multiplayer game did give a slight disadvantage to those who knew the game well. I played the game all the time so I must admit I used this to my advantage on many occasions. For example, each level had certain spawn points. So it was very easy to know where other players would likely be.
Proximity mines (my favourite) made this problem even worse as you could place the mines on spawn points so that people would die just after spawning. Incredibly infuriating for the person that dies but incredibly satisfying for the friend that did it to them!
When the radar was off new players sometimes struggled. Everyone was playing the game on the same televsision so you could simply look at the other persons square to see where they were. Those who didn’t play the game much and didn’t know the maps well would struggle without the radar but a quick glance was all that was required for a person who played the game a lot to know there their rival was and pick them off.
However, these things weren’t really detrimental to the long term enjoyment of the game as once your friends got used to the maps, your advantage was lost.
Looking back the graphics for the game don’t look that great but at the time they were revolutionary and the game was very quick to play.
3 years after the release of GoldenEye 007 Rare released Perfect Dark, the unofficial sequel to their ground breaking FPS (they had lose the James Bond license). The game came packaged with the new Nintendo Expansion Pak. This extra memory allowed much improved graphics and is widely regarded as being one of the most technically advanced games on the Nintendo 64.
However, GoldenEye 007 is still regarded by many as the better game. Although I played Perfect Dark a few times at a friends, I never owned it. GoldenEye 007 was the game I enjoyed playing for years so it’s difficult for me to give the two games a fair comparison (i.e. I think GoldenEye is better!).
Apparently, Nintendo are trying to release Goldeneye on the Wii through the Virtual Console. However, Rare are now owned by Xbox rivals Microsoft and the James Bond license is owned by Acitivision. Hopefully all parties involved can agree on something and release this great game to a new generation.
What are your memories of GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64?