Nintendo games aren’t known for violence against humans. The relentless slaughter of sentient mushrooms, oversized octopuses, and anything that gets in Samus Aran’s way, sure, but until GoldenEye 007, Wild Gunman was as close as Nintendo got to letting you inflict some real damage on your fellow humans. It’s not surprising to hear, then, that the Japanese publisher was apprehensive about the violence in James Bond’s classic Nintendo 64 adventure.
In a talk at Nottingham’s GameCity Festival and reported by The Guardian, Martin Hollis, one of GoldenEye’s designers, shared some new insights into the creation of that iconic game, Rare’s relationship with Nintendo, and the sequel that was passed up in favor of Perfect Dark. According to Hollis, Rare originally planned to make GoldenEye more violent, with “beautifully rendered gore that would explode out” of Bond’s victims. The team toned things down, but the gunplay that remained was still a little too real for Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, who faxed some characteristically cuddly suggestions to the British studio.
“One point was that there was too much close-up killing—he found it a bit too horrible,” Hollis said, according to The Guardian. “I don’t think I did anything with that input. The second point was, he felt the game was too tragic, with all the killing. He suggested that it might be nice if, at the end of the game, you got to shake hands with all your enemies in the hospital.”
Ultimately, Rare went in a different direction and robbed us all of seeing Bond take a break from his busy schedule to drop by a hospital and make good with all the goons he’d filled with lead. It could have been a revolutionary scene, forcing you to stare into the pinched faces of your enemies and confront the pain you’d wrought. Bond’s karate chop could easily have doubled as a player-initiated handshake—a choice that would have been an ingenious subversion of the game’s violence, as a tool for wanton destruction is suddenly redefined as a friendly gesture. But no, we just got to see Bond and Natalya make out for a couple of minutes until all the characters showed up for a final curtain call, establishing that all those people you killed were really just actors or something. That was an admirable attempt at finding a middle ground, but it’s not enough to make up for the loss of karate-chop handshakes.