Sunday, August 26, 2007

You Are Now Officially Old

Goldeneye on the 64 (hereafter referred to as “Bond”). Has it truly been ten years? Yes, dear reader, it has as of yesterday, making this Goldeneye 007 10th Anniversary Retrospective timely indeed.

The most famous washroom in the world

I take you back to the summer of 1997. The Nintendo 64 wasn’t yet a year old, and Mario Kart and Star Fox were all the rage. Their 4-player multiplayer modes, in particular, were quite the phenomenon for kids whose sole multiplayer experience had been confined to two-player original Mario Kart and Ninja Turtles action. If after purchasing Mario Kart 64 you hadn’t bought 3 extra controllers, then you didn’t have 3 extra friends.

In late summer there appeared on rental shelves at Blockbuster a game based on a two-year old Bond movie. Curious. The game did not seem to have aliens, nail guns, or space lasers (okay, that last one is a lie). Bad guys took different amounts of damage depending on where you hit them. Weirdest of all, the player had to reload their gun after emptying a magazine. What manner of first-person shooter was this?!

Rather than levels set on space stations or in the depths of Hell, Bond was set off to such exciting locations as… a Siberian dam? Russian military archives? What with your Rainbow Sixes and Counter-Strikes being all the rage these days such common surroundings are practically passé. But with Doom and Quake the first-person shooters of record in 1997, it could be argued that Rare took a real risk in rendering such prosaic locations for Bond to shoot his way through.

As noted, Bond really kicked things off in the “realistic” first-person shooter category. Bullets left holes in walls. Panes of glass could be shot out. Bad guys would duck behind cover, or run off to an alarm to warn their buddies. It was refreshingly believable.

These days the first-person aspects of a game often play second fiddle to the multiplayer mode. Back then the idea of 4 players on the same screen was pretty nutty, so it was with some skepticism that the multiplayer mode was explored. It didn’t take more than one or two games in the Facility to know we had a winner.

Slowest computer programmer... ever

It is said that one man took the game’s single-player code and reworked it into a multiplayer mode. One man. He truly is the king of kings. Bond multiplayer is where boys became men, where minds were shaped and legends born. Complex. Facility. Archives. The Room. Siberian Special Forces. Remote mines. Bunker. Meaningless to those who haven’t played, but icons to those who know.

In the fall of 1997, girls had sleepover parties and did each other’s braids. Boys - real boys - by contrast played Bond every fucking minute they could. Sleepovers were organized not so we could sit around and get to know each other, but to shoot the shit out of each other with the Dostovei in teams of two while holding down The Room in the Complex. Video games are an important way in which males socialize, and I can only wonder how the social circle would have turned out if we didn’t have Bond to congregate around. Here we were: young, impressionable youths fully ensconsed within a world of PP7s, Soviets, Complexes, and Bond. It shaped our very patterns of thought.

Baby boomers have their moon landing, Woodstock and JFK assassination. Males of my generation have Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Programming Notice

I'll be extending my stay in London for another week, to return on Sunday the 12th. I regret any difficulties this may cause.

As always, I endeavour to make your friendship with me a success. If you have any comments or questions, please direct them to me once I get back. In the interim, you may print photos of me off Facebook and hang them on your wall. Additionally, there are several Mike-approved lookalikes operating in the GTA you may wish to contact.

Yours most sincerely,