Unfinished game had toggle for “original” graphics, anti-Oddjob option in multiplayer.
GoldenEye 007 for the Xbox 360, as captured by Rare Thief
Thanks to some serious legal gymnastics, the video game makers at Rare have been able to re-release a lot of older software they made for other companies. That includes a ton of the games made while the company was part of the Nintendo “second-party” family in the ’90s. The exceptions have been held back due to legal clearance issues and copyrighted characters, and none seems more legally thorny than the legendary GoldenEye 007. Companies like Nintendo, Activision, and MGM all have legal claims to this movie-gaming mess of licensing.
Those legal issues didn’t stop a team of Rare developers from remastering the 1997 N64 classic from the ground up and prepping it for launch on the Xbox 360. The existence of this unreleased remake has been proven out by leaked image and video snippets over the years, but we’ve never seen anything quite like Tuesday’s megadump of information: a full 30 minutes of GoldenEye 007 running on debug Xbox 360 hardware.
The footage, captured and posted by gaming history site Rare Thief, contains both campaign and multiplayer gameplay. This Xbox 360 version appears to retain most of the original’s aspects, including level design, mission structure, sound effects, and low-poly geometry. The “remastered” aspect comes primarily from wholly redrawn textures and added graphical flair, such as better-looking skyboxes and extra bits of geometry. The video shows an on-the-fly graphics toggle that lets players switch between N64 graphics and redrawn graphics at any time to really see the difference; this function also appeared in both recent Halo game remasters. The other obvious improvement: a silky smooth 60 frames-per-second visual refresh that far exceeds the original game’s 20 FPS in campaign mode (and even lower performance in split-screen).
That’s a lot more levels for GoldenEye 007’s multiplayer mode!
Local multiplayer is also put through its paces. In addition to running faster with updated visuals, it includes a few interesting tweaks. For one, multiplayer offers more arenas, with new entries based on zones from the campaign; as proof, Rare Thief’s player tests out a never-before-seen level based on the game’s opening “Dam” mission. Additionally, GoldenEye includes an unexpected fix to one of the game’s most lovable quirks: mismatched heights. With an option toggled, the ultra-short character Oddjob and the hilariously tall Jaws are rendered at the same height as James Bond. I get it—Oddjob was impossible to hit—but there’s something about a session starting with a shout of “no Oddjobs!” that seems essential to the GoldenEye experience.
Rather than show snippets of every level, Rare Thief’s footage focuses on full runs of a few missions and three quick demos of multiplayer maps. Rare Thief’s footage also includes a brief sequence in which every weapon in the game is shown in both its original and remastered rendering. That portion reveals a strange glitch in which any weapon can be dual-wielded, even the sniper rifle. Other gameplay snippets contain a bug that turns characters invisible—their clothes float and animate, but no bodies can be seen. Between those bugs and some clunky-looking fonts, GoldenEye definitely looks unfinished. The video doesn’t answer whether full swaths of gameplay are missing or whether this is a mostly complete prototype.
In an interview with Ars, Rare Thief site founder Amir Abdollahi did not reveal how he got a hold of the footage, except to say that he recorded someone else playing the game. “I was just lucky to get the footage together to share with everyone,” he told Ars. He also wasn’t able to conclusively answer how much of GoldenEye is unfinished. Abdollahi’s site also includes great footage of other unreleased Rare games, like the original version of Conker’s Bad Fur Day.