Goldeneye 007’s Iconic N64 Multiplayer Wasn’t Originally Planned For the Game

Goldeneye 007

We posted some news on a great historical feature on Goldeneye 007 for Nintendo 64, where the team at Mel Magazine spoke with some of the game’s creators about a number of subjects. But one interesting note that came up involves the multiplayer, which is quite simply the most popular part of the game. Here’s the thing, though: it almost didn’t happen.

In the Oral History special, several contributors talked about how multiplayer would eventually become part of the game. For instance, Kotaku’s Chris Kohler explained, “At the time, single-player mode would’ve been the thing that was concentrated on, because that’s what people did with their game consoles. In general, game consoles had two controller ports, but the Nintendo 64 changed things by making the four ports standard. That enabled out-of-the-box four-player parties, because you didn’t need to buy an expansion multi-pack, so developers were more likely to include four-player functionality.”

David Doak, a member of the development team at Rare, added, “The multiplayer mode, which is now seen as critical for its big success, was for a long time just a wish-list thing, not a thing that we were definitely going to have. The N64 had four controller ports so it invited the idea that you’d have four-player split screen, but we were only going to program a multiplayer mode if we had time.”

On the technical side of things, Mark Edmonds, gameplay and engine programmer, chimed in. “I remember doing the code to handle the four-player split screen rendering before we’d actually been given the go-ahead to add in a multiplayer mode. That way when the decision was being made on whether to include it, I could say, ‘Well, we already have a split-screen mode working — it would be a shame not to use it!’

“We got a basic demo mode going, and it was fun. So we all decided it needed to be turned into a proper part of the game with different modes and scoreboards and that kind of thing. I don’t think I ever thought of it as a game-changer at the time, but we all enjoyed playing it ourselves and had lots of fun developing it, so that was enough.”

Doak said they took a big chance when they showed it to Nintendo, since the publisher didn’t originally know about its creation. “When it was finally revealed to management and Nintendo that we had it working, they were very pleased.”

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So, yeah, in the end, multiplayer wasn’t originally planned, but has now become an iconic part of the game. And, man, we need to play it again.

Goldeneye 007 is available now for Nintendo 64. If you prefer, you can also check out Goldeneye 007 Reloaded for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which has similar multiplayer features.