"A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad."
Ah, yes. The classic quote that may or may not have been uttered by Shigeru Miyamoto. With the gaming industry (understandably) experiencing an unusually high number of delays in recent years, the proclamation has been the subject of memes to the point where it's almost lost all meaning.
Yet its prominence at the start of GoldenEra signals just how crucial the extra development time provided to Rare during its work on GoldenEye 007 really was. Without Nintendo's desire to create great games above all else — cross-media release plans be damned — this particular movie tie-in may well have sunk into complete obscurity.
25 years after its release, GoldenEye remains one of the most iconic and influential first-person shooters of all time. Indeed, it's been the subject of documentaries before (or mockumentaries, at least), such is its popularity, and the internet is currently alight with rumours of the game reemerging on modern platforms via some sort of remaster or port of the N64 original (and no, there's still no official news on that). Despite the evolutions provided by more modern franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, and the rebooted DOOM, GoldenEye stood as a benchmark in how to create a game that not only felt authentic to the 1995 Pierce Brosnan movie, but was also exceptionally fun to play.
GoldenEra takes a look at the creation of GoldenEye by the radically inexperienced Rare team during the mid '90s. Featuring the likes of IGN's Peer Schneider, GameIndustry.biz's James Batchelor, composer Mick Gordon, and more along with ex-GoldenEye devs including Karl Hilton, Brett Jones, Steve Ellis, "Dr" David Doak, and Grant Kirkhope, it's a documentary stuffed to the brim with interesting interviews and anecdotes. From the formation of Rare, the development of GoldenEye by devs coming straight out of University, the game's multiple delays, and its eventual release and monumental impact, there's plenty here for everyone, whether you were right there for the game's launch or just happen to be a newcomer here in 2022.
At one hour-forty in length, GoldenEra delves into just about everything you might be curious about with GoldenEye. The bizarre case of Miyamoto wanting Bond to shake the hands of the enemies he'd previously gunned down is discussed, along with the immediate impact that GoldenEye had, specifically on Valve during its own development on Half-Life. We even get a significant glimpse into the work put into the launch of the fan-made GoldenEye Source along with the leak and ultimate cancellation of the Xbox Live Arcade remake in 2007.
It's a celebratory piece that focuses squarely on just how revelatory GoldenEye proved to be upon launch. With this in mind, the documentary perhaps skirts over some of the issues that may have plagued development given the number of delays. For example, the "unspoken expectation" of crunch is discussed at moderate length, but given that the developers were mostly young with no family of their own to support, it was apparently something that they were happy to do in order to create the best game possible.
It would have also been interesting to get more of an in-depth look into the relationship between Rare and Nintendo at the time, too. Despite its lenience, Nintendo was understandably conscious not to delay GoldenEye too much (the film launched in November 1995, although the game wouldn't arrive until August 1997) and apparently pushed for assurances on the game's status, despite the fact that Rare had only just started to implement multiplayer just mere months prior to its intended release. A bit more context behind this and some insight into the discussions between the two companies would have been welcome.
Nevertheless, even if you may have heard some of the stories before, GoldenEra is required viewing if you're even remotely interested in the creation of GoldenEye and its enduring legacy. It's an exceptionally well-made documentary and entertains throughout its entire runtime, making us even more hopeful that GoldenEye may soon get its long-rumoured rerelease.
Thanks to Altitude Film for press access to the documentary. GoldenEra is available to buy or rent on the official Altitude Film website or via other streaming services.