MI6 investigates the ill-fated GoldenEye videogame for Nintendo's rare Virtual Boy console featuring 3D graphics and headset...

The Lost GoldenEye Videogame
11th January 2007

Bond fans and gamers alike will all recognise the immense success of GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 console which debuted in 1997, but MI6 goes on the trail of an unreleased version of the game for the rare Virtual Boy system.

Above: The Virtual Boy system by Nintendo, first released in 1995

The Virtual Boy was developed by Nintendo and was the first portable game console capable of displaying "true 3D graphics". In a manner similar to using a Head Mounted Display, the user placed their face inside a pair of rubber goggles on the front of the machine, and then an eyeglass-style projector allowed viewing of the monochromatic (in this case black and red) image. It was released on July 21st 1995 in Japan and August 14th 1995 in the USA at a price of around $180. It met with a lukewarm reception that was unaffected by continued price drops. Nintendo eventually discontinued it the following year. There were 14 games made with 8 more never released, plus 8 Japanese only games. Virtual Boy items are now hot collectibles in the retro gaming scene.

Above: A view of the headset that players had to look down into

Upon the launch of the Virtual Boy, a version of "GoldenEye" was announced for the platform whilst it was under development for Super Nintendo (SNES) in November 1995. These plans for a SNES release would soon change and development switched to the forthcoming N64 platform early in the development cycle.

Rare Ware - who crafted the N64 version - officially denied being the developers of the Virtual Boy version, although they were working on an edition of "Donkey Kong" for the system. It is assumed that it was being produced by Nintendo internally, who then owned the Bond videogame licence and were producing most of the Virtual Boy games. What is clear though, is that from the few screenshots that ever surfaced from the project, the game would have been very different to the N64 incarnation. Instead of a first person shooter, the Virtual Boy version is an action racing game, in which players would have taken the wheel of Bond's new BMW Z3 and (possibly) Aston Martin DB5.

Above: The only known screenshot of the GoldenEye incarnation for Virtual Boy

In one of the few pieces of publicity for the game, Nintendo advertised: "If you thought rush-hour traffic was a nightmare, wait 'til you get behind the wheel of 007's car. Avoid obstacles and blow the other cars away. Buckle up for safety because, in this game, you never know what's gonna happen."

Nintendo decided to cancel the Fall 1996 line-up of games because not enough people owned a Virtual Boy system. Nintendo's sales target for the handheld was 1,500,000 units, but only 300,000 systems were sold in its lifetime.

Except for one rumoured five year anniversary exhibition of the console and games in Tokyo, there are no confirmed sightings of "GoldenEye" for Virtual Boy outside of Nintendo HQ circa 1995.

Despite concerted efforts, MI6 has been unable to track down any developers of the ill-fated game.

History would be made on August 25th 1997 when the award-winning "GoldenEye 007" by Rare was released for the new Nintendo 64 console, becoming the best selling James Bond videogame of all time.


Virtual Boy Tech Specs

Processor: NEC V810 (Part# uPD70732), 32bit RISC 20mHz Clock speed / 18MIPS 1Kbyte instruction cache Vdd = 2.2 - 5.5V DC 1Mbyte DRAM 512Kbyte P-SRAM
Display: RTI (Reflection Technology Inc) SLA (P4) 384x224 resolution (4 color with 32 levels of Intensity)50.2Hz h-scan
Sound: 16bit Stereo (with built in stereo speakers)
Power: 6AA Batteries (9V) or AC adapter (10V)Power
Controller: 6 Buttons + double control pads
Cartridges: 256k x 16 -1024k x 16 rom (512k - 2048k), 0 - 8KByte Battery Backed Ram. Cartridge rom uses Toshiba 'TC538200AFT' and 'TC5316200AFT' rom chips in 16 bit mode.

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