Goldeneye 007‘s official remake project, as co-helmed by Rare, Microsoft, and 4J Studios before being quietly canceled, is one of the gaming industry’s wildest lost projects. We’ve discussed this canceled Xbox 360 game at length over the years, with updates coming mostly in the form of increasingly detailed leaks—and this week’s is easily the biggest yet. The rumored N64 update’s dam, as it were, has burst open, with a legitimate playable copy having leaked.
A longtime Spanish game streamer, who goes by Graslu00, was handed the veritable GoldenEye key in the form of one of the game’s near-complete ROMs, as made by Rare during the 2010s for Xbox 360 consoles and then indefinitely shelved. Graslu00 loaded the ROM in a PC emulator, confirmed it was real, and pre-recorded a full “00 Agent” gameplay session (meaning, the hardest difficulty with the most required objectives) before hosting a chat while showing the footage to viewers on Friday. Which made me wonder: how the heck did he get the ROM?
“I was sent the build anonymously and told to wait” until a certain date to reveal it, Graslu00 tells Ars Technica in an email interview. The files came with a peculiar note: “Never say never, release coming soon, James.”
From the look of Graslu00’s channel, his years of Goldeneye-affiliated streams may have gotten a ROM leaker’s attention, and his latest two-hour video shows a clear N64 Goldeneye expert tackling its every remade level in efficient fashion. Hence, the video counts not only as the first independent footage of this holy grail of lost video games, but also its first-ever speedrun.
Not your dad’s RCP90
If all of this is new to you, rewind to my last piece about the X360 Goldeneye 007 remake, which breaks down its basics. As I’ve previously reported, this is a note-for-note remake of the N64 classic, as opposed to a revision, and it is so allegiant that it includes a “switch graphics” button, similar to some Halo game remakes. You can switch back and forth between the game’s original assets and a completely new coat of paint (and much more realistic-looking actors, including a James Bond that finally looks like Pierce Brosnan) by pressing a single button.
Graslu00 opts not to test that feature in his footage, though in emails to Ars, he confirms the graphic-toggle button works without hitching or pausing the game. (He admits he has noticed a few funky graphic mismatch bugs when switching back and forth but says they’re mild.) For this two-hour video, Graslu00 chose not to show off the toggle because he wanted to maintain “flow” and prove that the canceled project is indeed playable from start to finish… at least, on the Xenia emulator (not to be confused with Goldeneye 007 character Xenia Onnatop). In emails with Ars, he claims the game runs identically on 360 hardware and is “signed as retail,” thus working more easily on emulators (and requiring a patch to work on developer 360 hardware). That means its small number of bugs relating to sound volume imbalances, vanishing-and-reappearing assets, and dummy textures are inherent to the build he was anonymously provided, as opposed to an issue with emulators (though exactly which build this is remains unclear, since the menus don’t include, say, a version number).
In the meantime, the project’s full scope has never been clearer than seen in this two-hour video. Every campaign level is not only beaten but beaten soundly, with occasional pauses to linger over revised skyboxes, textures, props, and remodeled character faces—and the scale of this game’s improvements surpasses that of the Perfect Dark X360 remake, as proven by elements like completely remodeled mountains in Dam, higher-res posters in Archives, and a total overhaul of bonus-level Egyptian. Still, this video counts more as a speedrun than a careful analysis. Graslu00 clearly knows his Goldeneye, thanks to high-speed strafe-running, manual-aim mastery, and the kind of rapid-fire PP7 gunfire that you’d swear was coming from an RCP90.