Nintendo wanted to tone down the violence in ‘GoldenEye’

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

GoldenEye 007 Violence Toned Down at Request of Miyamoto.

The classic N64 first-person shooter GoldenEye 007 is one of the most beloved games of the ’90s and played a big part in ushering such games from the PC to the living room. With the specter of another James Bond film hanging over us, we’re feeling especially reminiscent for the best James Bond game ever made: “GoldenEye 007” for the Nintendo 64.GoldenEye 007’s co-designer reveals that Nintendo and Rare had different tones in mind for the game, with Shigeru Miyamoto unsure over the title’s violence and gore. It’s the kind of game that a certain audience will never tire of learning more about, which is why this report from The Guardian is such an enjoyable read. Their games are about collecting coins and stars not shooting Soviet soldiers in the head from a distance of 0.5 feet with double RCP90s, blood shooting out in that bizarre way it did in 90s video games. “Bond is a violent franchise and making that fit with Nintendo, which is very much family-friendly, was a challenge,” co-designer Martin Hollis explained during a talk at the GameCity Festival in Nottingham. “For a while we had some gore, it was just a flipbook of about 40 textures, beautifully rendered gore that would explode out.

The relentless slaughter of sentient mushrooms, oversized octopuses, and anything that gets in Samus Aran’s way, sure, but until Goldeneye 007, Wild Gunman was as close as Nintendo got to letting you inflict some real damage on your fellow humans. After several approaches, the studio was finally visited by Genyo Takeda, the director behind the Punch-Out!! titles. “He went back to his hotel room, and when he came back for more meetings the next day, Rare had made a new version of Punch-Out!! over night, using their Silicon Graphics workstations and featuring huge rendered sprites. The studio is now owned by Microsoft, but at the time it was a gun-for-hire studio, lauded for its dedication to making great games — stuff like “Jetpack,” “Battletoads,” and “R.C.

While the game was ultimately a huge success for both Rare and Nintendo, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto had major concerns over the killing portrayed throughout. Indeed, it seems as though Nintendo guru Shigeru Miyamoto wanted the game to be a much more feel-good experience, reaching a compromise with developer Rare. He said as much to Hollis via fax (!) late in the game’s development cycle. “One point was that there was too much close-up killing – he found it a bit too horrible,” Hollis said. “I don’t think I did anything with that input. He suggested that it might be nice if, at the end of the game, you got to shake hands with all your enemies in the hospital.” What a delightful scene it would have been, Bond visiting some dilapidated Russian hospital to pass on his commiserations to Henchman #46 and all the other guys who had their legs blown off by proximity mines. “It was very filmic, and the key thing was, it underlined that this was artifice,” he said. “The sequence told people that this was not real killing.”

This is the era when games like “Killer Instinct” and “Donkey Kong Country” were created, as well as “Banjo-Kazooie” and, eventually, “GoldenEye 007.” You’ll notice that “GoldenEye 007” sticks out from the rest in one distinct way: it’s a game largely about shooting bad guys from a first-person perspective. Nintendo’s main creative director (and the guy behind “Super Mario,” “The Legend of Zelda” and many more) Shigeru Miyamoto was troubled by the amount of violence in the game. The lack of ultraviolence certainly did not cause any issues for GoldenEye from either a commercial or critical stance, in spite of Rare’s predictions. The title was a must-have for N64 owners, and went on to influence the growth of first-person shooters on home consoles at a time when the PC was the go-to platform for FPS fans.

The Guardian’s report has plenty more details on the development and legacy of GoldenEye — if you spent your youth playing this with your friends, it’s definitely worth a read. But no, we just got to see Bond and Natalya make out for a couple of minutes until all the characters showed up for a final curtain call, establishing that all those people you killed were really just actors or something.

And imagine how such a conclusion could have impacted the first-person shooter genre, which following GoldenEye became a sober, colorless venue for shooting virtual people in the face. The news gives some further insights into the inner workings of Nintendo, showing that even at the peak of its power the company was hesitant to detach itself from the family-friendly market on which it had made its name. Ours was much more open as a result.” Hollis spoke at length about his great admiration for Nintendo. “I value the idea – which I do see as quite strongly a Japanese idea – of respect to the player and trying to see into their mind and their life,” he said. “We have jargon for it nowadays: ‘user-centric design’.

Nintendo thought about where the player would be when they played the game and who would be with them at the time.” But it’s not just the players. And that was it.” Years later, Hollis still seems surprised at how easily Nintendo accepted their refusal. “It must have grossed, I don’t know, $400m or something.

While he left Rare 14 months into the game’s development, he was there for the important decisions. “I wanted to make a game that starred a woman. Partly it was Nikita, the film by Luc Besson, and also Dishonored, a 1930s movie starring a spy who was a woman, and a general sort of sensibility that I thought it would be interesting to have a woman be the centre of attention. We constructed this character, to the very best of our ability, to be the centrepiece of the game.” Joanna Dark was born of the best intentions – even her name comes from Jeanne D’Arc, or Joan of Arc – but her game inevitably made less of an impression than GoldenEye.

You hear the theme tune and you’re right there.” After briefly discussing the logistics of the GoldenEye development (it took a team of ten two and three-quarter years, and a budget of $2m), he was asked about how Nintendo managed to maintain its brilliance as a game development studio.

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