The name’s Bond. Games Bond. At least it is this month as N64 classic GoldenEye rocks up on Xbox Games Pass and Nintendo Switch Online. Prior to Rare’s superb split-screen multiplayer title, Bond games had a level of quality more usually associated with the special effects in Die Another Day, when Pierce Brosnan awkwardly kite-surfed a tsunami.
GoldenEye changed everything. Sure, it rocked up long after the film vanished from the big screen (and even VHS bargain bins), but it was packed with atmosphere and loads of fun. More importantly, it remains loads of fun. While the visuals today look shonky (although you can swap them for new-and-improved shininess on Xbox), the gameplay’s a blast. And the game no longer having a control system that makes you want to hurl your cherished James Bond DVD box set into a ravine is a definite plus.
With that in mind, and having a mind and body – including two games-playing thumbs – that are suitably old, I figured many other greats from the early days of gaming deserved similar mainstream resurrections. Alas, on playing them, it turned out I was wronger than the wrong person who thought: yeah, invisible cars, diamond mines and kite-surfing a tsunami in Iceland was a pretty great idea.
My own personal journey, initially entitled Games That Should Totally Be Brought Back To Modern Consoles, went awry almost immediately with Star Wars. This 1983 title wasn’t the first tie-in I remember playing, but it was the oldest one on my list. On firing it up, I blew up the Death Star before I’d even got comfortable. In my head, Star Wars was an epic of the ages. In reality, it was an arcade game designed to eat coins and kick you off after five minutes. Had the film matched the game, it would have been the length of an ad break and you’d have marched into the box office to demand a refund. Or at least free popcorn. Harrumph.
I next blazed through a trio of 8-bit hits. Ghostbusters (1984) was the first tie-in I recall from childhood. Notably, I vividly remember my mum being a master at the end bit where you sneaked past the Marshmallow Man. But today, for all its innovations – speech; a roguelike earnings loop; arcade and strategy sections – Ghostbusters plods. So does Aliens (1986) – tense at the time, but laughably naff and limited to modern eyes. And even Robocop (1988) now fails to excite, its lead suitably moving with all the grace and urgency of a man encased in a heavy metal suit.
The Amiga incarnation of Batman the Movie (1989) was next. The 3D Batmobile section with its grappling hook turns almost matched my rose-tinted memories for speed and exhilaration. Sadly, the platform sections almost made me want to do a Jack Napier and swan-dive into a vat of chemicals. So on to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure (1989), with its thinky gameplay. Unfortunately, I mostly thought it’d be more fun to punch my own face than continue with its fight sequences. And that was before genuinely clever puzzles gave way to tedious blockers based around dialogue trees.
With one final effort, I hurled myself into the era of consoles: Super Star Wars (1993) on the SNES. This dazzled at the time, despite taking massive liberties with the source material, not least in turning Luke and chums into trigger-happy killers. But having been repeatedly murdered by Jawas on the second (admittedly great-looking stage), I’d have needed to have performed a Jedi mind trick on myself to continue.
Still, things could have been worse. At least I didn’t play E.T.
If you want to trample on your own rose-tinted glasses, you can legally play the two Star Wars games on Antstream Arcade, and the Indiana Jones one is on Steam.