Just another quick question about the Nintendo 64 Classic Edition now that its trademarks have potentially been leaked. We made our list of excellent games that Nintendo should totally stick to, but we excluded Rare games from the list since the company is now owned by Microsoft and might not be in a hurry to put its properties on a Nintendo product. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Banjo Kazooie or Conker, but this does make me quite sad for its other games like Jet Force Gemini and Blast Corps.
However, there is no question about the two biggest games that will suffer for this corporate interference: Rare’s two revolutionary FPS games GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark.
So, as a pop quiz, Nintendo is at the negotiating table and some suit who’s never played a video game in his life walks in. He slams a pile of papers on the table, sneers, and says “The bosses say you can only have one.”
Which do you choose? (I realize in a perfect world that we should get both, but just play along. Don’t be lame.)
But first, let’s get to know our contenders!
In 1997, the first-person shooter genre wasn’t nearly the force that it is today. DOOM clones roamed the land without bringing much originality to the formula, and console gamers weren’t altogether on board with the genre yet. It was seen more as a novelty to get a first-person viewpoint of your character at that point. This was at a time when seeing your character on screen was of the utmost importance in video games.
GoldeneEye 007 changed that when it launched for the Nintendo 64. I think it goes without saying that many younger gamers would be surprised to learn that it was Nintendo who revolutionized the first-person shooter genre for home consoles, but with its financial backing and the brilliance of late 90s Rare’s development, the first-person shooter finally found a hit that console gamers could flock to.
This was a huge step forward for the bloody DOOM clones that flooded the market throughout much of the decade. The 3D environments provided a whole new depth to the levels like we hadn’t seen before, and the free flowing controls and free aiming allow for much better movement. Well, for us back in the day at least. I don’t think a lot of younger gamers can just pick up GoldenEye and learn those controls instinctively.
I doubt I could fall back in line without a day or two of total practice.
GoldenEye 007 wasn’t just a step forward in graphical capabilities. It also provided plenty of options for how to approach the game. Bond could be stealthy and kill from the shadows or from a distance with a sniper rifle. He could go guns blazing and level bad guys with machine guns. Or, you could play like about 80 percent of the gamers and not care about “beating” the game, but rather, just messing around in it. Mines provided a brilliant way to torment bad guys, and I can guarantee I failed “Facility” more times than I beat it because I spent most of my days watching Dr. Doak’s body contort in the explosions.
This is also one of the first instances of “getting to the end” not meaning you beat the level. James Bond has objectives to complete, and if you missed one but still reached the end, well… you didn’t win. Wha!?
And there were the cheats! The one reason to beat the game, apart from unlocking all the levels, was to secure the fun cheats. Invincibility, paintball mode, dual-rocket launchers, the Gold PP7, and of course, DK-Mode! The cheats only added to the whole sandbox feel of GoldenEye, and gave us even fewer reasons to play it legitimately.
I know this might sound like blasphemy, but we also had a blast using cheats in multiplayer. I can’t imagine the whining that would ensue if this were allowed in today’s video game world.
Perfect Dark followed a few years later in 2000. Nintendo and Rare decided not to extend their James Bond license and instead turned to an original property to fill the gap. Meanwhile, EA took over the James Bond license, and many gamers picked up Tomorrow Never Dies expecting the same level of quality they got from GoldenEye 007.
So, Perfect Dark is, in all definitions of the word, a spiritual successor to GoldenEye 007. It removes James Bond and adds action hero Joanna Dark to the protagonist role. Her mission is a much more sci-fi affair than James Bond’s, and her world grants her access to more imaginative weapons and gadgets. However, don’t be confused in thinking that Perfect Dark goes to Turok 2 levels of insanity with its arsenal. Rare shows just the right amount of restraint for making this one slick action game.
And indeed, if this game starred James Bond, it would be the direct sequel that many were hoping for. Perfect Dark is the extension of all GoldenEye offers from its level design to its combat to the objectives Joanna has to complete within the mission.
And actually, I don’t have too much to say about this one. Unlike when GoldenEye 007 came out, I was entirely entrenched in PlayStation in the year 2000, and I didn’t really play Perfect Dark until after I bought an Xbox 360, back when you could pick up Nintendo 64 games at GameStop for a dollar! Even then, I couldn’t find the memory expansion to fully enjoy the game.
So the big question, for me at least, lies in whether or not I want a sentimental favorite that I poured countless hours into as a young teen or an improved version that will provide me with an entirely new experience. Well, if you know me, that’s the easiest decision I could make. Choosing old favorites over most modern day video games, I’ll side with nostalgia in most cases.
I would choose GoldenEye 007. The purpose of these mini-consoles is to relive your memories from the period that these consoles came out, and sadly, I don’t have any memories of Perfect Dark. Plus, I want to torment Dr. Doak some more. It’s been a while since he felt my wrath.