Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Nintendo 64 classic Goldeneye almost never got its license to kill

Illustration for article titled Nintendo 64 classic Goldeneye almost never got its license to kill
Screenshot: YouTube

We suspect an entire generation of video game nerds owe their current-day carpal tunnel syndromes to the countless hours spent stiffly gripping their Nintendo 64 controllers while their so-called “friends” proceeded to handily kick their asses in Goldeneye multiplayer. Even if you still can’t quite forgive those those shit-talking buddies of yours, it’s hard to place much blame on the video game itself, which is still considered a groundbreaking masterpiece for the medium.


Still unknown to most folks, however, is just how unlikely a success story the N64 first-person shooter was with fans. Luckily, the YouTubers at Hodges U released a mini-doc last month exploring the unlikely history and massive success of Nintendo 64's revolutionary Goldeneye video game. The 007 film tie-in may be an undisputed cornerstone of gaming history nowadays, but back in 1995, no one except a group of low-level developers within Britain’s Rareware Studios (up until then really only known for Donkey Kong Country) had any interest in even attempting the project. What’s more, the game was based on an unreleased reboot of the spy franchise, required hardware not even available to the public yet, and somehow hit markets over two years after Pierce Brosnan made his big screen Bond debut.

As the video details, it was Rare employee Martin Hollis who discovered the studio sitting on James Bond’s licensing rights, and came to company execs with the idea of utilizing it. It’s probably worth noting that, up until that point, movie tie-in games were pretty notoriously bad, so Hollis was a bit surprised to receive an easy greenlight on the project, quickly setting to work on Goldeneye in what appears to be an insanely quaint English countryside cottage.

There was a pretty glaring issue right out the gate, though—namely, that there was no console on the market yet capable of running the game they wanted to make. Back then, Nintendo 64 didn’t even have its name, and was instead referred to by the uber-90's codename, Project Reality.

The rest, of course, is history: Goldeneye is cemented as one of the highest regarded video games ever made, revolutionizing competitive play and going on to sell over 8 million copies globally. So, thank you, Rareware Games—a legion of fans owes their desensitization to violence, stiff thumbs, and hatred for Oddjob to you visionaries.

Andrew Paul is a contributing writer with work recently featured by NBC Think, GQ, Slate, Rolling Stone, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He writes the newsletter, (((Echo Chamber))).