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Goldeneye’s Controls Have Been Holding It Back From Greatness



Goldeneye N64 review

For the uninformed, one of the all-time classic first-person shooters, Goldeneye 007, was finally ported to modern platforms this past week. The legendary Rareware shooter that debuted on the Nintendo 64 in 1997 has never been playable on other platforms before, and many fans had lost hope of it ever being so due to licensing difficulties revolving around the James Bond IP. In the nearly thirty years since the game was originally released on the N64, many people (myself included) have adopted the narrative that Goldeneye is nowhere near as good as we all remember, but what the Xbox version of the game has proven is that the only thing that was actually wrong with Goldeneye was its controls. 

Obviously, the original game has several problems that were simply a result of the Nintendo 64 hardware. Even in single-player, the game’s framerate struggled to hit 30fps but added three more players for split screen and, God forbid, any explosions, and the framerate legitimately dips into the single digits. Combine that framerate with what looks to be jpegs of the actor’s faces plastered over the character models and sound so compressed it could have been from the early part of the 20th century, and the game was definitely showing its age. But all those things could be easily overlooked, and to some, were even endearing as a reminder of a bygone era. 

Image: Microsoft

The single deal-breaking issue with the original Goldeneye on N64 was the game’s control scheme. While Halo Combat Evolved didn’t invent the dual-stick control scheme for first-person shooters on console (that honor actually goes to Alien Resurrection on the PlayStation 1), it did popularize it and, in doing so, made every console based first person shooter before the sixth generation, Goldeneye included, feel antiquated. But we can all rejoice as that single deal-breaking issue has finally been resolved! At least that is with the Xbox version of the game.

As I mentioned above, in the decades since Goldeneye’s release, the sentiment toward the game has soured. Huge swaths of the game’s original audience have turned on it claiming that the game has “aged like milk” and is “better left as a memory.” And I know this because I played literally hundreds of hours of Goldeneye in my parent’s basement when it was first released and I have said both of these disparaging things and more. But with the game’s recent re-release on Xbox, I couldn’t be happier to have been so very wrong!

Goldeneye N64
Image: Microsoft

The Xbox version of Goldeneye comes with a fresh coat of paint running at 4K and the relatively high locked 30 frames per second. But with the inclusion of a more modern and standard first-person shooter control scheme, Rareware’s third outing on the Nintendo 64 is finally able to step out of the shadow of its single biggest flaw and proves that Goldeneye is easily deserving of mention in the same breath as the all-time classics like Doom, Wolfenstein, and Duke Nukem. Levels are fast-paced and constantly encouraging player movement, gunplay is more about strategy than pinpoint accuracy, and with new objectives added to each level with increasing difficulty settings, the game offers significant replay value. Goldeneye on Xbox has proven that the original game was the arena shooter that time forgot because it was dragged down by the cursed trident-shaped monstrosity that was the N64 controller.

So ultimately, what is the point of all of this? Well, I suppose I am trying to publicly eat some crow and admit I was wrong about Goldeneye. We were all wrong. It’s still not perfect, running at 60+ FPS would be a welcome patch, and adding in true online multiplayer would make it one of the rare games that never gets uninstalled from my Xbox, but what we did get is something special. The game is stellar and should be celebrated not only for its influence on the first-person shooter genre but for what it was and continues to be: one of the best shooters ever made.

News writer and Xbox reviewer. Patrick lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with his wife and their dog Ghost. Patrick studied economics at the University of Northern Colorado and is particularly interested in the market dynamics of the video game industry. When he's not working Patrick can be found walking Ghost through downtown MPLS, binging The West Wing on repeat, or playing hockey. You see everything Patrick does right here on

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