Back in 2008, plans to release an HD remaster of Rare's GoldenEye on the Xbox Live Arcade were scuppered by rights conflicts. But now, over 12 years after its intended release, a long-lost build has surfaced on PC, playable via emulation.
Last weekend, two hours of gameplay from the elusive port found its way onto YouTube, the most seen since early previews over a decade ago. In the days since there were various reports that a near-final ROM, including a completely remastered campaign and multiplayer, is doing the rounds online.
PCG's Andy Kelly has verified that the build is legit, and provided some crisp screenshots of GoldenEye's HD reimagining.
One nifty feature of the XBLA remaster is a small toggle that lets you instantly swap between the original N64 graphics and "new" HD visuals. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary would popularise the feature, but GoldenEye would've predated that remaster by a good two years. Not every feature made it into the leaked build, though—online multiplayer is noticeably absent, as are planned speedrunning leaderboards and achievements.
As a remake, however, it's perfectly functional. Unfortunately, original composer Grant Kirkhope told VGC that the mess of licensing issues surrounding the game led to it languishing in pre-release.
“The main reason it didn’t happen was because there were too many stakeholders,” said Kirkhope. “Microsoft, Nintendo and [Bond rights-holder] EON could never agree on terms, and that’s before you even start to consider getting all the original movie actors to agree to have their likenesses used again. It would’ve cost a lot of money to get it done and because of that the project probably wouldn’t have been financially viable.”
Modders have had plenty of shots at bringing GoldenEye to PC before, mind. A group of Half-Life: Alyx modders are attempting to remake the game in VR, while a promising Unreal remake was unfortunate issued a cease-and-desist late last year. Half-Life 2 multiplayer mod GoldenEye: Source is still kicking around, though I don't imagine it boasts a massive playercount these days.
Still, if you're up for messing with some legally-murky emulators, GoldenEye can now be revisited in all its crisp, up-ressed glory—with controls that don't require you to be a three-handed monster to enjoy.