The Goldeneye 007 Re-release Has Been Confirmed, But Not The Leaked Remake

A tangled web of game publishers and license holders has finally confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in retro gaming. The legendary first-person shooter GoldenEye 007 from 1997, which changed the genre on home consoles, is coming back.

The revival of this Nintendo 64 game is a case of “mostly good news, some bad news,” since the two biggest companies involved only gave us vague information. At least, the good news is that two re-releases of the game have been announced, and each is covered by a copyright notice from the Bond license holders at MGM (which is now owned by Amazon) and longtime Bond series handler Danjaq.

Switch: “Online Play Is Coming Soon”

The first confirmation came from Nintendo, which finally confirmed the name of the next mainline Legend of Zelda game as part of its latest Nintendo Direct announcement blitz. One part of the show was all about the subscription service for the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack, which costs $50 a year and lets you download a number of N64 games.

After Nintendo announced that eight more first-party N64 gems would be coming to the service in 2022 or 2023, each with a clear look at how they would be emulated, the familiar MIDI tones of the GoldenEye 007 intro started playing, followed by what seemed to be a direct emulation of the N64 version of Bond walking in front of a gun barrel, as framed in the Switch’s N64 emulator interface (meaning that a pattern of dots and a Switch profile icon fills its unused widescreen portions). Nintendo didn’t say when the game would come out, but they did say “coming soon with online play.”

The worst thing about the Nintendo part of the news is that the online multiplayer part of GoldenEye 007 seems to work in the console’s N64 emulator. This style of online play is known for being slow and choppy.

This is because it uses a delay-based netcode model that takes player input and tries to send it to three other locally emulated versions of the game. We’d love to be wrong and see the game’s creator, Rare, build a more streamlined netcode emulation model for first-person shooters on Switch.

The Xbox Version Has Both Good And Bad News

Rare confirmed a long-standing rumor that it is also making a version of GoldenEye 007 for Xbox consoles. This could be seen as better news in terms of technology. This additional announcement confirmed a bump to “4K resolution” on compatible consoles (likely Xbox Series X and Xbox One X), support for achievements (which had already been leaked), and “smoother” performance, whether playing alone or in a four-player split-screen.

On three important fronts, however, we have to read between the lines. The first is that the Xbox version might not get the “online play” that was advertised for the Switch. Rare’s article about today’s news only confirms “split-screen” as a multiplayer option. If true, the lack of online play would be a glaring omission, since Microsoft and Rare worked together on an Xbox 360 re-release of Perfect Dark, the spiritual successor to GoldenEye, which has online lobbies. On this front, we’re assuming the worst until we hear otherwise.

Update: The official 007 sites have confirmed that the Nintendo Switch version will be the only one with online multiplayer.

The announcement says that the game will be “faithfully re-created,” which is the only way to describe the game’s graphics other than resolution. In the gaming industry, where remakes and remasters are carefully looked over, including quite a few made by Microsoft, which now owns Rare, announcements usually list every technological bell and whistle.

Today, though, we only have one thing to look at: the same James Bond model, animation cycle, and textures that were used in the opening of the N64 game. A trailer for 4K resolution makes it clear that only the resolution of the polygonal model has been changed. Microsoft hasn’t said anything about adding other visual options to this game.

In other words, this doesn’t look like it has any code or assets from the Xbox 360 remake of the game, whose 2021 leak showed a lot of changes were made to assets from top to bottom (along with a cool shortcut button to switch graphics between “original” and “enhanced” modes at any time).

From what I heard in my 2021 interview with people who worked on the 360 remake project, it seemed like they didn’t know if or how the N64 game would ever come out on Xbox, since their attempt was shut down by higher-ups.

The other problem comes from a small logo that says “Rare Replay” which can be seen in the Xbox version of the trailer.

This 2015 collection of Rare’s best games from the ZX Spectrum to the Xbox 360 seems like a natural choice for a re-release of GoldenEye 007. (and, based on a leaked documentary produced by Rare, it was arguably planned to be on Rare Replay at some point, anyway). Since Rare Replay is part of Xbox Game Pass, this means that everyone who pays for it will be able to play GoldenEye 007.

But that makes many PC gamers wonder when they’ll be able to join in the fun. Phil Spencer, the CEO of Xbox, promised many years ago that first-party Xbox games would come out on both consoles and PCs at the same time. However, Rare Replay was never ported to Windows.

We wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the licensing farms for this re-release objected to GoldenEye 007 being released officially on PC. But it is there already. If you can believe it, some PC gamers would rather pay for a legal way to play this game on PCs.

Nitpicks aside, we’re left with the crazy fact that yes, the license mess that kept GoldenEye 007 from being re-released on any modern system has been fixed. Join us in the comments to celebrate the fact that there are so many “shotties and slappers” battles coming up soon (even if many of them might not be online).

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