I recently had the urge to play Goldeneye 007, a first person shooter for the Nintendo 64 that I played a lot as a kid. Fortunately for me, I still owned my copy and my old N64 system. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the thing to turn on, no matter how many times I blew into the cartridge and the dusty old game slot.
I figured the console had lasted so many years that it had finally reached its expiration date. But that didn’t change the fact that I still wanted to play the game that I had spent so many years playing by myself and with friends alike.
I sat around for a bit, rapidly tapping my foot against the ground like an addict itching for a fix. I’ve been to plenty of local retailers, but none of them currently sell any N64 games. I thought about the remake they did with Daniel Craig as James Bond, but I played the demo on Xbox Live and it was just a crappy modern shooter. Not to mention the fact that I don’t care much for his version of the character.
I also thought about eBay, but I’m not exactly loaded with cash and I didn’t want to wait for shipping. Then I remembered hearing about how old console emulators could be found on the internet pretty easily. I figured it wouldn’t have the same feel as playing on the N64, but at least I could play it. With not very much searching required, I found an emulator and a Goldeneye ROM for it.
The game started up and the James Bond theme was a bit loud which startled me for a split second. I turned the volume on my computer down and skipped to the menu. There are usually four save files available represented by folders on the menu screen. This time, there was only one. But I thought nothing of it and started a new game.
The first level cinematic started playing, establishing that Bond was at a dam in Russia. The only odd thing was that there was no music at first. But as soon as the camera entered first person perspective, the level’s soundtrack started playing. Throughout the level, the sound would occasionally drop out for ten to fifteen seconds, including gunfire sound effects and enemy groans. But then it would come right back. I just shrugged my shoulders and wrote it off as faulty audio programming.
I finished the level and jumped off the dam, which is the ending objective. The cinematic where Bond jumps off with an invisible bungee cord attached to his feet began playing and once again there was no sound. There is usually a wind noise. Also, instead of lifting his head up high and performing an Olympic-worthy swan dive, Bond just shook his head slowly and stepped off the ledge.
It went back to the level select and I moved on to Facility, the second one. This time, when I spawned, I only had one bullet for the silenced PP7. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I could just walk to the part of the vent I spawned in that has an opening above a bathroom stall. Then, I would need to make that bullet count by shooting the guard in the adjacent stall in the head, picking up his AK-47, and finishing off the other three guards in the room.
But when I got there, the guard was missing. I dropped down and exited the stall to find the bathroom completely empty. I checked every stall, but the other guards were nowhere to be found. To make matters weirder, there appeared to be a mirror on the wall between two “No Smoking” signs. When I walked up to it, I could see Bond’s reflection. Only, he was holding the pistol under his chin while the first person view remained the same.
I moved around for a moment, wondering if it was just a glitch that would correct itself. But nothing changed and I felt like killing some bad guys, so I went to exit the bathroom, but the game wouldn’t let me. It didn’t say the door was locked or anything. I just kept pressing the action button and the door wasn’t moving.
It was only at this point that I noticed that the music for the level sounded off-beat and at a somewhat lower pitch than normal. Suddenly, the room darkened as if most of the lights had blown out. I heard the sound of Bond coughing like he does if you destroy gas containers in one of the labs later in the level. Again, I attempted to exit the room, but then my speakers were overcome by the booming ominous laughter of Baron Samedi from the Egyptian level.
I decided to try rebooting the game and starting the level over again. It worked and it was playing out like normal. I figured I must have just run into some crazy glitch or a hack on the part of the ROM’s creator. I made it all the way to the end of the level where you rendezvous with Alec Trevelyan.
Instead of pacing around the way he normally does, he was standing still. When I approached him, instead of the usual dialogue box saying “Glad you could make it, 007”, it read “I might as well ask you if all those vodka martinis silence the screams of all the men you’ve killed.” And then, instead of “For England, James?” the next box said “Or if you find forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women for all the dead ones you failed to protect.” This was a line I recognized from the Goldeneye movie.
Again, I thought it could have been a glitch, or a prank on the part of the creator. I don’t scare easily, so I kept playing. The game suddenly warped me back into the darkened bathroom from before, with the same mirror not seen in the original game. Once again, I had one bullet in the pistol which appeared under Bond’s jaw in the mirror. This time, there were words crudely painted over part of the wall that read “Live in darkness, die in silence.”
It automatically brought me back to the mission select screen, where the only option available was the second Bunker mission, usually much later in the game. When the mission started, Natalya was already lying dead in her cell next to mine. A blood graphic appeared on her body that looked just a bit more detailed than the spots that usually appear in the game. On the walls of her cell were the words from before, plus a new one that read “Cheater, cheater, woman beater”.
I was puzzled as to what this might mean, but had little time to ponder it as I was once again warped into the Facility bathroom. All of the stall doors were open and in each one, a dead scientist. Both phrases from Natalya’s cell were written on the wall, along with “Innocence is never spared”.
Once again, I was back at the mission select screen, with the only option this time being Jungle. At the start of the level, Natalya was once again dead. I walked through and found no enemies or turrets until I crossed the bridge that led to the Xenia Onatopp boss fight. There, she was lying dead in a similar way to Natalya.
Once more, I was warped into the bathroom with yet another phrase added to the wall. This one asked “Do you get off on it?” I began to piece together what it all meant and I came to a realization. When I played on the N64, I frequently used in-game cheats for the single player missions. For the escort missions, I often gave no thought or care to Natalya’s safety and would leave her to die. On occasion, I would even kill her myself just for fun.
I also remembered slaughtering unarmed scientists on Facility and Silo, regardless of the fact that doing so would result in a mission failure. I particularly sought out ways to kill innocent NPCs in increasingly sadistic ways. But I didn’t see a problem with it because after all, it’s just a video game, right?
Finally, I stood in front of the mirror and decided to pull the trigger. The reflection showed Bond shooting himself in the head and falling to the ground. Instead of the usual red filter falling over the screen accompanied by a modified version of the classic James Bond theme, it just cut to black for a split second before returning to the desktop.
I went to delete the ROM, but couldn’t find the file or the folder it was in. It had simply disappeared. I opened my browser to check the search history, but that had been cleared as well. I tried searching for it as I did before, but the specific page that I downloaded it from could not be found.
I sat in front of my computer for several minutes thinking about my years of killing defenseless video game characters. Was there something wrong with me? Am I a monster? Visions of all those people flashed through my head, particularly the female ones. I always did have a sadistic preference for them, especially in games where I could grab them, use them as human shields, or strangle them. The more I thought about it, the more I began to grin. Do I get off on it? Yes, I do.
Written by SinisterSilver