Gamescom 2010 wrapped up in Cologne, Germany, on Aug. 22, providing to hype-hungry gamers roughly what they expected: recap and extrapolation on stuff they’d already heard at E3 and Comic-Con earlier in the summer. I was looking over a list of the big-ticket games exhibited at Gamescom, and it came as no surprise that the vast majority of the titles were sequels or spinoffs to established franchises. No big deal, that’s the norm for conventions, and it’s good to hear that, for the most part, good franchises are continuing on. However, one title in particular stuck out to me as an odd choice: “Goldeneye 007” for the Wii.
Now if you were a young lad in 1997, chances are you remember “Goldeneye 007” for the Nintendo 64 well. It was a hugely popular game for its time. I remember friends of mine who essentially owned their N64s for a few sports titles had “Goldeneye.” In a way, it was kind of like the “Halo” or “Modern Warfare” of the late 90s.
There’s something to be said about the nostalgia appeal for certain series. Capcom has a really good track record with this. “Mega Man 9” and “Mega Man 10” are two huge examples. For those of you unfamiliar with these two titles, “Mega Man 9” was Capcom’s first all-new entry to the classic Mega Man series in six years; 11 if you don’t count the delayed American release of “Mega Man & Bass.” For “Mega Man 9,” Capcom decided to go with the original 8-bit graphical style used in the first six Mega Man games and strip Mega Man’s abilities down to those he had as of “Mega Man 2,” arguably the most popular game of the classic series. The game garnered generally positive reviews and apparently sold enough to warrant another 8-bit sequel.
“Street Fighter IV” was perhaps an even bigger success on Capcom’s part. This wasn’t necessarily a pure case of nostalgia appeal, but that definitely helped. All the kids who played “Street Fighter 2” on their Super Nintendo or at the local Pizza Hut were now almost 20 years older. Bringing back the entire “Street Fighter 2” cast was sure to conjure up fond memories of beating the hell out of your little brother so many years ago. This, combined with decent online play and relatively beginner-friendly combos and game mechanics helped make Street Fighter 4 a massive hit, revitalizing the stagnating fighting game scene. The national ad campaign couldn’t have hurt either.
Nintendo, too, has had their share of success revitalizing old franchises. The Mario series never really stopped, per se. Nintendo continued making high-quality expansions to “Super Mario 64’s” formula with “Super Mario Sunshine” and the “Super Mario Galaxy” series, but it had been a long time since an all-new platforming Mario game had come out. Then, in 2006, “New Super Mario Bros.” was released for the Nintendo DS with the sequel “New Super Mario Bros. Wii” coming out in 2009. The two games played like a blend of “Super Mario Bros. 3” and “Super Mario World” while still managing to stay fresh, blending new features with a tried-and-true formula.
That’s what kept these games from being simple nostalgia cash-ins: they were able to keep what was memorable and fun about earlier entries in the series while adding new features that brought them up to modern game standards. But how does the new “Goldeneye 007” fit into all of this?
I suppose I should start by saying that my first reaction upon hearing they were remaking “Goldeneye” for the Wii was “Why”? I mean, aside from the brand recognition and possible nostalgia appeal, it makes no sense to release a game in 2010 based on a movie released in 1995.
This isn’t the first time a developer has tried to cash in on the original’s success. In 2004, EA Games released “Goldeneye: Rogue Agent” was for the Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube and DS. Unlike the 2010 remake of “Goldeneye 007,” “Rogue Agent” has nearly nothing to do with the original “Goldeneye” game or film. It comes as no surprise that such an obvious cash grab flopped massively. Review aggregator GameRankings.com shows the average review score across the three console versions comes in at a decidedly cool 62.88%
So, will “Goldeneye 007” for the Wii rise above mere brand recognition and nostalgia? So far, it seems so. Early reports from gamer blogs Kotaku and Joystiq found that the game updated with all the modern-day accoutrements you’d expect from a first-person shooter in 2010, like experience point-based online multiplayer and destructible environments. The likeness of Daniel Craig will be filling in Pierce Brosnan’s role, as well.
The outlook seems good for Activision’s take on Rare’s seminal N64 shooter. Hopefully, they’ll use the license as a springboard for a game that’s great in its own right, just as Rare did back in 1997.
Alex Girard is a senior majoring in journalism and communication arts. Want to talk about the latest Wii release or reminisce about the good old days of N64? E-mail comments, questions and suggestions to [email protected]