When the DS launched in the distant past of late 2004, gamers figured it would basically be a portable N64. After all, the Game Boy Advance had seen several SNES ports and the DS had similar graphical capabilities to the N64, so why wouldn’t Nintendo just repeat the same strategy? The DS even launched with an updated re-release of Super Mario 64, which seemed to seal the deal.
In the end the DS was fortunately not a dumping ground for recycled N64 ports. It turned out that its general programming architecture was just too different from the N64’s boorish, hard-to-work-with SDK; Mario 64 wasn’t ported straight but reworked from the ground up to play on the DS. Still, that didn’t stop every Nintendo fan and their dogs named Mario from thinking one thing: GoldenEye 007 on the DS! As a huge fan of the original game I admit to blue-skying about it myself, though the mess of red tape between Rare, Microsoft and Nintendo made sure that getting the classic console FPS onto the DS was nigh-impossible.
Time heals all wounds, and six long years later gamers are finally getting a real GoldenEye on the DS. Like its big brother on the Wii
, though, this GoldenEye is a complete re-imagining of the property, taking nostalgic cues from the N64 original and mixing them with an updated story and gameplay. Is GoldenEye 007 the DS shooter we’ve all been waiting for?
Well, first of all you have to know something about n-Space, the game’s developer. I’ve been a fan of their work ever since they released the highly original and underappreciated Geist on the GameCube in 2005. They’ve done a few things on Wii but have mostly stayed on the DS side of things recently, making consistently good licensed games. They aren’t necessarily the most creative 3rd party studio working on the DS but they are one of the more prolific, and next to Nintendo, n-Space is possibly the most technologically innovative. Basically, if you need a handheld version of your big console release, developed quickly and with quality, you go to n-Space.
In a weird twist of fate, back in 2004 n-Space helped make another DS GoldenEye. That game was GoldenEye Rogue Agent, EA’s name-dropping cash-in that had absolutely nothing to do with either Rare’s N64 game or the GoldenEye movie. On consoles Rogue Agent was rightfully panned, but the DS version was noted for its impressive FPS engine and advanced graphics; n-Space was the studio who delivered that engine. Right out of the gate n-Space was pushing the handheld’s meager tech, and now six years on they have the chance to make a real GoldenEye experience for the DS.
For the past few years they’ve been turning out impressive portable versions of the Call of Duty games, with Black Ops releasing this month. These aren’t gimmicky isometric knock-offs of their console counterparts; they’re smooth, fully 3D-rendered first person shooters with all the standard gameplay packed down into the DS hardware with a few in-context minigames for good measure. This track record led Activision to hand n-Space the unenviable task of developing the new GoldenEye for DS.
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