^Check out our discussion of the Goldeneye remaster, with oodles of 4K footage!
There are, of course, plenty of grown-up reasons why Goldeneye 007’s ill-fated remaster – almost completed, but left abandoned some time in 2008 – will never officially see the light of day. At the time, it was the victim of a licensing stand-off that never got resolved, as it would have required the sign-off of both Microsoft and Nintendo (who were at least a decade away from forging the slightly awkward friendship they currently enjoy), but also MGM and, presumably, Electronic Arts, who had the Bond gaming licence at the time.
When word came that this ancient knot had finally been unpicked, some of us dared to dream that maybe, just maybe, this meant that the original Xbox 360 remaster project could form the basis of the new release, on Xbox at least. It stands to reason, right? Xbox still owns Rare, the source code must be filed away somewhere, and with most of the work having been done over a decade earlier (with intact multiplayer), it’s surely worth the effort to dust it off and give it the final polish it deserves.
As with most things that Seem Reasonable, though, it wasn’t to be. Who knows why that is – it’s entirely possible that the new licensing agreement stipulates the N64 original must be released as-is. This would make sense, as it wouldn’t saddle Nintendo with an obviously inferior version. It could also be, as Alex speculates in the video above, that EON productions might not be interested in a remaster of something that isn’t necessarily on-message with the Bond franchise as it currently stands. Their endorsement of IO Interactive’s upcoming Project 007, which presumably will result in a Bond game closer to Hitman than DOOM, would suggest that Alex might be on the money here.
But whatever the reason, it’s a crying shame, because let’s face it: uprezzed N64 roms look crap. The textures are a vaseline smear. The primitive geometry of the characters and environments literally comes apart at the seams. N64 games even looked a bit naff back in the day, to be honest, but when they were running at 240p on your wee brother’s 14 inch CRT, they got away with it.
Game preservation is a big topic right now. Countless games are rendered unplayable by the march of technology, as the hardware they’re designed for becomes rare and obsolete, their licensing deals expire unceremoniously, or they’re simply removed from digital storefronts and end up at the whim of the (frankly much abused) second hand games market. So it’s certainly not a bad thing that Goldeneye has finally been re-released in something resembling its original form, but with modern touches that make the experience palatable for today’s audience. It just could have been so much more.