The real story of Rare’s canceled GoldenEye 007 remaster

Image: MGM / Eon

Over the holidays, we are re-posting some of our best articles, interviews, opinions, and talking points from the previous 12 months. from both employees and participants – Articles that we think represent our best of 2021. In them you will find our usual mixture of thoughtfulness, frivolity and retro. expertise, nostalgia for games and, of course, enthusiasm for everything related to Nintendo. Enjoy!

GoldenEye 007 has recently been on the news again. We’ve known for a long time that Rare had planned Xbox Live Arcade A remake of the famous shooter, and thanks to Youtuber Graslu00, we recently took a close look at what that might look like. Since then, several people have managed to get their hands on the leaked remaster and play it on their own, either on modified Xbox 360 systems or via emulation.

As you might expect, the arrival of the GoldenEye XBLA has left many wondering why it didn’t. The complex rights associated with the game (it was commissioned by Nintendo and developed by Rare, but other companies such as Activision, Microsoft, MGM and Eon Productions are also involved) would make this project difficult to complete, and since there was a leak of the remaster, there was something like an accusation of the guilty.

Some fans believed that the cancellation of the remake was caused by Nintendo, being the original publisher of the N64 version. die. “) Graslu00 was even accused of not understanding this situation, which led to the release of statement which discusses rumors that MGM and Eon are unhappy with the level of violence in the game, and have imposed restrictions on future Bond titles regarding death and blood on screen.

Former Rare employee Nick Burton seems to support this position. He talked about legal problems preventing the release back in 2008.saying:

It wasn’t easy. Honestly, I wanted the differences to be fixed, but obviously there is a Bond licensing issue, even if that’s what is out now. This is incredibly difficult to decide because there are so many licensees involved. You have the guys who own the gaming rights license, the guys who have the Bond license as IP, and there are countless licensees.

This situation is also not helped by the bond licensees MGM and Eon Productions, which are filming a series of films based on the literary super-spy Ian Fleming. Talking to MundoRare Over a decade ago, game designer Duncan Bothwood confirmed:

Licenses are by nature strictly restrictive agreements, and while GoldenEye 007 eluded the license holders’ attention, the success of our game meant that subsequent games were less successful and probably less free from this kind of oversight in their development. than these teams would like.

Also, in 2016 Xbox CEO Phil Spencer said GoldenEye 007 “has always been a right issue” and not anything else. Case closed, huh? Wrong.

A more recent interview with former Rare artist Ross Bury gave us further insight. Talking to Ars TechnicaBeri revealed that the game was endorsed by everyone at Nintendo – at least they thought – until one of the company executives (who remains unknown, but this is not the late Hiroshi Yamauchi, we know so much) appears to be stopped the project when it was almost ready:

When it was introduced to Nintendo, everyone there approved of it, except that they didn’t check with the one guy that mattered … I guess I was told that his answer was something like, “ A game for Nintendo is not will be on the Microsoft console. “

Bury adds that “this guy’s orders surpassed everything,” which is believed to include MGM and Eon doing Bond video games at the time, according to Ars Technica.

Bury’s comments have taken on even more weight following a recent interview with the core remastering team of “GoldenEye XBLA”. Video Game Chronicle… Speaking with co-project leaders Mark Edmonds and Chris Tilston, VGC confirms the belief that Nintendo was the main reason the game never saw the light of day.

Tilston explains the origins of the project:

IN 2007 [Rare founders] Tim and Chris Stumpers left Rare, and without their protective blanket, the game we were working on at the time was canceled. From my point of view, I felt a certain responsibility for the guys who followed us. We had a contact at Microsoft who said, “There is a possibility when Nintendo wants to release GoldenEye, and in return you can do whatever you want with GoldenEye on the Xbox.”

It seemed like a really good opportunity to give the team something to get stuck in because we were just a small team of eight. Nintendo contacted Microsoft through our contacts. [producer Ken Lobb]with whom we played a lot before.

Everyone wanted it. For Activision, it was free money; for Microsoft, they saw it as a way to get really big on Xbox Live Arcade when there really weren’t millions in sales before. We didn’t know the details, we just thought that Nintendo should do what they want. Perhaps they thought we would make a direct port on our side.

The team seemed to get to work before the ink was dry (or indeed, before there was any ink on the contract), and Tilston recalls how the question of project feasibility was a recurring theme throughout development:

We sent a weekly report to Microsoft to keep them informed and happy, but there were always problems from our side: “did we sign the contract?” And it became a common joke for a while because things were going so well, apart from this aspect that we had no control over. We synced every month and asked, “They haven’t signed up yet? Is the deal done?

The longer it went on, the more you started thinking, “Hmmm, something is wrong here.” We started by realizing that Nintendo is perfectly happy and Microsoft is completely happy. I suppose they were rarely happy that we were doing this, and they just let us continue.

Instead of eight people doing nothing all day, we tried to take the initiative and achieve something positive for the company. It wasn’t until towards the end that we realized that someone at Nintendo was not asking or getting permission from whoever really needed to be asked.

GoldenEye XBLA Team, Top Left: Chris Tilston, Chris Woods, Mark Edmonds, Laurie Hurray, Dave Herod.  Bottom left: Ross Berry, Sergei Rakhmanov, Keith Rabbett
GoldenEye XBLA Team, Top Left: Chris Tilston, Chris Woods, Mark Edmonds, Laurie Hurray, Dave Herod. Bottom left: Ross Berry, Sergei Rakhmanov, Keith Rabbett (Image: Ross Bury)

Edmonds adds that the team was under the impression that the approval was received:

I’m sure that at some point we all as a team were told that everyone was approved. I can’t remember when it was, but I remember someone telling us that everyone approved of it and that it was good. Something must have changed after that.

This “something” is believed to have become known to Nintendo that this project – which apparently has not yet been officially approved – is still in active development. When the exact reason for canceling the game is explained to him, Tilston replies:

For our part, we just heard that one group didn’t want to do this anymore – or were unhappy that a game that they thought originated on their platform had moved to the Xbox. I can understand that. Looked at from a purely mechanical point of view, Nintendo paid for the game originally for its platform – without them, it would not exist.

But we thought everyone was happy with it, otherwise we would not have jumped on board. Well, I think we jumped aboard pretty quickly – we started it pretty quickly and a lot of people dived before they could be overclocked by other teams. We started it before it was approved, but after a couple of months we made sure everyone was for it and we have all their support.

Tilston adds that, in his opinion, Nintendo was the reason for the cancellation of the game, not Activision, MGM or Eon. Edmonds agrees:

I don’t remember hearing anything from Eon or MGM. I’m not even sure they were involved at all. I don’t even know if they would have to approve the project or not.

Keep in mind that Tilston and Edmonds would not be involved in high-level discussions between Nintendo, Rare, Microsoft, Activision, or any of the bondholders, but given that they saw no evidence that MGM and Eon there was a problem. Based on the content of the game, it might seem like Nintendo is ultimately the company most responsible for the GoldenEye XBLA not being released.

So, will GoldenEye remaster officially come out sometime? Speaking to Ars Technica, Edmonds says:

I don’t see this happening unless Microsoft buys Nintendo.

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