Many monumental video games have reached their 20th, 30th, and even 40th anniversaries at this point, and fans can be forgiven for missing a milestone or two. But in the case of GoldenEye 007's 21st birthday, the N64 classic received quite the treat this week: an oral history starring a few of the game's original developers.
This feature comes from an unexpected source: MEL Magazine, an online-only outlet operated by Dollar Shave Club with only one other gaming oral history under its belt. But MEL picked up where 2015's Rare Replay dropped off. That Microsoft-published collection of classic Rare games, complete with detail-loaded mini-documentaries, had to skip GoldenEye for licensing reasons.
MEL's feature sums up quite a few details that have appeared in various behind-the-scenes stories over the years, though it does so with the assistance of three of that game's artists and programmers: Karl Hilton, Mark Edmonds, and David Doak. As a result, the game's history is retold in appreciably chronological order, and fans get one of the deepest looks yet at details including: Rare's visits to the original MGM sets while the source film was being made; Rare's use of a "hacked-together" Sega Saturn controller to test pre-release code, since the N64 controller wasn't yet finalized; the "cheaty" holes tucked into the popular Complex multiplayer map, which its designer added just so he could beat his colleagues in matches; and the exact reasons that the game didn't include certain famous Bond actors or real-life gun names.
The development trio also weighs in on the often controversial inclusion of Oddjob, a multiplayer character who is so short that he can't be easily tracked by the game's auto-aiming system. All three Rare representatives refer to the character as a "cheating" option in the game, but they each expressed a preference to have his imbalance as an option. "It was too much fun to take [Oddjob] out, and there was no impetus from any of us to change it," artist Karl Hilton told MEL. "It's clearly become part of the culture and folklore of the game."
Head to MEL for the rest of the interview.