Earlier today, we learned that classic Nintendo 64 shooter GoldenEye 007 will be added to the Nintendo 64 Online service for Switch Online, as well as Xbox Game Pass. While it’s always nice to see Nintendo adding more titles to their retro libraries on the Switch, I feel the need to remind everyone who hasn’t played GoldenEye in decades of something critical: the game is basically unplayable compared to modern shooters.
Don’t get me wrong — I had a blast playing GoldenEye as a kid, both the single-player campaign and the multiplayer mode. But remember, the game was released before twin-stick controllers were standard. The Nintendo 64 had a famously odd, three-pronged controller with a single thumbstick. At the time, that was basically fine. Unless you were a PC gamer, you probably didn’t have much experience with first-person shooters, so there were no expectations as to how they should play. Now, though, it’s a whole other story.
Most FPS titles today use the left control stick for movement and the right for aiming and turning. Since the N64 only had the one stick, it used that for movement and the C buttons for strafing. Meanwhile, you had to hold down the R button to aim freely. Again, it worked ok at the time, but going back to this after playing any modern shooter is a pain in the ass.
Is Nintendo going to update GoldenEye‘s controls for the Switch? It seems unlikely, given the company’s barebones approach to most of its retro offerings. Unfortunately, the controls aren’t GoldenEye‘s only issues either. The frame rate frequently dips and the depth of field and resolution leave a lot to be desired. All of these issues have been alleviated by dedicated fans experimenting with the game via emulation over the years, allowing you to play GoldenEye in high resolution and with mouse and keyboard controls.
The version of GoldenEye we’re going to get on the Switch almost certainly won’t have any of these quality of life updates. (The Xbox version will have updated controls and graphical options, but does not have online multiplayer.) And sure, there’s a case to be made for historical authenticity, but GoldenEye is really one of those cases where the original game has been rendered more or less obsolete. If Nintendo adds modern control schemes and improves the game’s technical issues, then I’ll be impressed. Otherwise, the best way to play GoldenEye will remain emulation.