The title to this article sounds like an appropriate James Bond movie title in itself, but anyway, a recent YouTube upload has caught fans of the classic Rare FPS Goldeneye 007 by surprise, with confirmation that the N64 hit was, at one point, under development for Xbox Live.
The video, published by Rare Thief, contains a full half hour of action taken from a supposed in-development update to Goldeneye 007, with updated textures and a similar switch used in Halo: Anniversary that changes the visuals from the updated engine to the classic look in an instant. Everything else looks to be in check, from the guard placements to the weapons, sound effects and musical score. Rare Thief doesn’t mention where the video came from, but mentions a few obvious changes to the options menu such as the name change of DK Mode to Big Head Mode.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer chimed in not long later, not out right stating the game was in development when answering a fan question, but suggesting the reason for its non-existence is simply down to a rights issue.
@ShahnoorAli GoldenEye has always been a rights issue, not a “getting code to run” issue.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 24, 2016
So what happened? The rights to Goldenye 007 is a complicated issue, with a number of hands in the pot. According to a number of reports over the years, negotiations between original publisher Nintendo, Microsoft (who own original developer, Rare) and current rights holder Activision broke down during the games development. Supposedly it was in the works at Rare across 2007-2008 and wasn’t far from launch when Nintendo pulled the plug on the project, though it was never explained as to why they decided on that course of action given an original agreement to allow Rare to develop the update. This, however, is the first time we’ve seen the game in action properly outside of rumour and speculation.
Nintendo also attempted to bring the original edition, without any changes, to the Wii Virtual Console but again a deal between themselves and Activision never came to pass. Meanwhile, Goldeneye 007: Reloaded is the closest we’ve come to a re-release of the original (along with the poorly received semi-sequel Goldeneye: Rogue Agent), which was published for Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 by Activision. Fun fact, Pierce Brosnan was replaced by Daniel Craig in the lead role, which weirded me out given I love the movie so much. Xbox Live, meanwhile, did get a port of Perfect Dark instead, a fair replacement.
Whether Goldeneye 007 will ever exist in its original form on another system is doubtful at this point, though there have been plenty of attempts to adapt it on PC by eager fans. One thing’s for sure, this Xbox Live edition looked really good for its time and it’s a damn shame we’ll never get the chance to play it.
(featured image courtesy Mobygames.com)
Mark Isaacson is the Editor of PN2. Go say hi @Mark_D_Isaacson.