Top 100 N64 Review: #4 – GoldenEye 007 (1997)

Don’t Be The Type of Person Who Choses Oddjob.

Peer pressure isn’t only about smoking. It’s about teaching you to be a better person. 

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Modern art or a train? You decide.

LesLites’ Ranking#4/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

The first two games I wanted to review for the N64 were Mario and GoldenEye, but for completely different reasons. Super Mario 64 was the first time I played a game in a true 3D environment. I was so shell shocked that I couldn’t even figure out how to move Mario, smashing down on the analog D-pad while ignoring that round stick in the middle.

GoldenEye, however, is when my friends and I grew up. We weren’t going around finding stars and collecting coins but unloading entire clips into polygonal bodies as they squirmed in dramatic death sequences. Cafeteria time was dedicated to discussing tactics while trash talking about death match: those who dared to play as Jaws revered while those who copped out as Oddjob were belittled.

It became a cultural revolution. Everyone was playing this game, even your little sister who didn’t even know about Yoshi. And guess what: it’s still amazing. 

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This stage always scared me as a child.


The name is Bond.  James Bond.


First off, everyone looks like some variation of a rat with a hexagonal haircut:

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Second, this game does so many things well that I’m not quite sure why it hasn’t been more thoroughly imitated. Sure, bits and pieces of GoldenEye can be found in every first-person shooter post-1997, but there are a few basic, simple things that makes this game such a jewel of an experience.

Replay Value.

The three degrees of difficulty (Agent, Secret Agent, 00 Agent) come with variation in health, ammo, enemy AI, and objective requirements.  You can only play on higher difficulty levels when you have completed the previous missions on that same difficulty. While most games try and reward you with “achievements,” GoldenEye actually entices you to push yourself to get better. As you forge ahead on new missions, you’ll find yourself taking breaks by completing old ones on higher difficulties.

Second, they have unlockable cheats gained by successful speed runs. Completing certain levels under a specific threshold grants you the ability to make everyone look like Donkey Kong, turn your bullets into paint splotches, equip double rocket launchers, and more.

This translates to immense replay value.  It is such a simple way to approach it. Entire nights with my friends would be centered on taking turns to complete missions on 00 Agent, and I found myself falling back into those same habits many years later.

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Hardest challenge: throwing this damn modem (56k I presume?) on a tiny box.

Choose Your Strategy.

Every first-person shooter before GoldenEye was referred to as a “Doom Copy” in a pejorative sense. This is because they were right: Chex, the cereal company, even programmed a Doom copy called Chex Quest that came with every new box of cereal as a promotion.

GoldenEye opened up the environment by allowing you to look up and down, strife side-to-side, and crouch. This gave you options of play that other games did not. Did you want to run n’ gun your way through a level, moving quickly while catching people off guard? Or did you prefer to crouch and sneak behind enemies, killing them with head shots with your silenced weaponry? In reality, you need a blend of both play styles to excel, but where you are on the spectrum is up to you.

This type of gameplay has come down to us through the ages. Playing as a Thief Khajiit in Skyrim is every bit as similar as the mechanics in GoldenEye.

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Every mission comes with a dossier of information written in perfect characterization.

More Than Point and Shoot.

There are just so many little details that make a difference.

The mission dossiers are a great as you have a page dedicated from everyone in your team. M will tell you what’s most important. Q will give you a quick run through on equipment. Moneypenny will consistently land the double entendre. Reading their quick synopsis makes you feel as if you are no longer playing this game alone — you really are submerged into the bond universe.

The developers must have been a quirky gang. Not only did they add cheats of various ridiculousness, they made the decision to make everything explodable. Too many stray bullets on that office desk? BOOM. It makes little sense, but there is satisfaction when the  serendipity of a locker exploding kills the very enemy you were doing such a poor job at aiming at.

Oh, and how could I forget: the Bond-themed muzak that plays when you are in elevators.

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I never realized this, but GoldenEye is kind of important.

Looking around at other people’s reviews reminded me how much time was spent JUST on multiplayer. Most people didn’t have a computer, and trying to play over 56k could be tough (though I did so with Quake 2 for years and loved every moment). Having four people able to play at one time was a revelation.

The story mode, however, is its lasting achievement. Outside the occasional Mario Kart/Party group, local multiplayer was just a blip in video game history. The single-player mode still reigns supreme, and I couldn’t imagine where COD, Metal Gear, or Halo would be without it.

For a game that was done by a piecemeal team with little experience on a movie-licensed game which never works out for a system that didn’t exist yet, they smashed it. Absolutely smashed it.  

Other People’s Takes: 

  • Pet Wolf Gaming: “It’s crazy to think that such an important game like this was almost thrown away by Nintendo at one point; an action that would have undoubtedly resulted in a completely different landscape in modern gaming.”
  • Hypersonic 55: “The legacy this game left behind is massive and constantly comes up in “greatest games” or “most influential games” lists.”
  • Bundae:The single player experience was amazing.  You were James freaking Bond and had all of his crazy spy arsenal and guns.  You were sneaking around either shooting people in the head or going all out, blaze of glory style, on your enemies.”


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