GoldenEye is finally coming back to consoles. But this good news was quickly overshadowed by the fact that its upcoming launch is not easy. There are two versions of the re-release, with different versions for Nintendo Switch and Xbox, and neither is the much-anticipated remaster that leaked last year. It’s a strangely convoluted situation.
As part of the recent Nintendo Direct, N64 classic shooter GoldenEye was announced for Nintendo Switch Online. As with the other games in the Online collection, this is an emulated version of the N64 original, not a remake or remaster. However, it has one new feature: online multiplayer.
At roughly the same time, Rare—the Microsoft-owned studio that created the original version of GoldenEye— announced the re-release of GoldenEye on Twitter it will also come to Xbox via Game Pass and will be available for free to owners of the Rare Replay collection. However, it was immediately clear from the studio’s description of the game that the Switch and Xbox versions are not the same. The Xbox version “includes achievements, 4K resolution and a smoother framerate – even in local split-screen multiplayer”. There was no mention of online multiplayer at all.
Later, the official Bond website 007.com confirmed that the online multiplayer is exclusive to the Switch version. He also noted that the Xbox version is different from the Switch release, calling it a “4K remaster” rather than a re-release.
25 years after its original release, experience GoldenEye 007 faithfully recreated for Xbox consoles. Includes achievements, 4K resolution and smoother framerates – even in local split-screen multiplayer! Soon @XboxGamePass. pic.twitter.com/kpBlJKqFR9
— Rare Ltd. (@RareLtd) September 13, 2022
However, this GoldenEye remaster does No a remaster that has been almost an open secret in the gaming industry for years. During the Xbox 360 era, Rare created a full remaster of GoldenEye with updated graphics and a feature that allowed players to instantly switch between the original and updated visuals, similar to the Halo 1 and 2 remasters.
This version was eventually leaked online in 2021. After a leak, members of the development team revealed that work on the GoldenEye remaster was essentially complete and the game was almost ready for release, but Nintendo stepped in and canceled it. Nintendo reportedly didn’t like the idea of releasing an N64 game on Microsoft’s console.
Over the past year, a number of leaks have revealed Xbox’s achievements for GoldenEye. This may have given some people hope that Rare’s full remaster was finally on the way. News of the game being in limbo due to the war in Ukraine would only further that hope. But instead, the version that will be released is just a high definition version of the original Nintendo 64 version. You get the same graphics from the 90s, just cleaned up. The updated visual remaster appears to be (officially) for Rare’s eyes only.
So that’s two versions of GoldenEye: one with online multiplayer on a console often used on the go, and one without it on a platform known for its top-notch online infrastructure. And neither is Rare’s much-wanted remaster from the Xbox 360 era. Given the long struggles with re-releasing GoldenEye (due to licensing disputes on multiple fronts), perhaps we should be celebrating the fact that we’re getting all this – but this feels like a strange kind of celebration.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK news and features editor.
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