This newest James Bond film, Skyfall, is tearing up the box office, and also a few consoles as a downloadable add-on for a current video game, 007 Legends. But even if Skyfall's incarnation as a video game reverses the decade-long decline in quality and popularity of Bond games (Legends, pre-Skyfall, has been widely panned), its impact will never approach the influence or place of reverence held by its legendary predecessor:
GoldenEye 007, the greatest movie-based video game ever.
Released in 1997, GoldenEye arrived in a golden age for gamers (among the great things going on: no one yet called themselves a "gamer"). It would be five more years before Halo and Grand Theft Auto III allowed games to rival movies as the premier medium in creative scope and youthful audiences, so when GoldenEye debuted for the Nintendo 64, the idea of seeing a movie, then buying a video game that, more or less, let you play that movie was the height of Hollywood/Silicon Valley fusion.
From its release, GoldenEye evaporated much of the late '90s for thousands of occupants of dorm rooms and suburban basements across the country. A generation of young (almost entirely) men spent countless hours hunting through GoldenEye's world for any number of enemies or, preferably, each other, thanks to the unheard of ability (!) to play four shooters against each other, each playing through the eyes of their shooter on one quarter of the screen.
A familiar scene: When I lived in a dorm of 200 men in 1998, there was not a minute of any day of the week that two to four weren't playing on the only big screen TV, with another half dozen splayed on couches waiting their turn.
GoldenEye also made it OK to own a Nintendo 64, a platform previously dominated by cartoonish Mario and Zelda games. With 8 million copies sold, the Bond game was the third highest selling N64 game of all-time, and the only non-Mario/Zelda game to reach 5 million in sales. A rebooted version, this time starring Daniel Craig, was released in 2010 for Nintendo's Wii and, later Xbox and Playstation.
GoldenEye's DNA lives today just below the surface of all modern shooter games, though, from Halo (which sold 3 million copies fewer than GoldenEye) to Call of Duty to even World of WarCraft. Whether it's Master Chief or Navy SEALs on-screen, they're all just playing souped-up versions of a classic James Bond.
Do you remember playing? Have you tried the new Skyfall game? Sound off in the comments!