History Special: Perfect Dark (Nintendo 64)

We look back on the Perfect Dark series, tell you what has happened so far and why the games are both positive as a negative.

We look back on the Perfect Dark series, tell you what has happened so far and why the games are both positive as a negative.

In 1997, a turning point marked for the first-person shooter genre. While eGo shooter were already popular on the PC, but the right popularity thrust, especially on consoles, was only through the game Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo 64. The commercially extremely successful titles also formed the foundation for the development of Perfect Dark, The spiritual successor of the Bond Shooter. But Perfect Dark is far more than the Nintendo-64 cult game of Rare. Meanwhile, there are also comics, novels and various merchandise articles in addition to the three previously published players. In addition, there is currently a reboot of the brand in the studios the initiative and Crystal Dynamics in development. A good time to look at the history of the games slightly closer. The beginning makes the classic Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64.

The development

Shortly after the publication of Goldeneye 007, the development of Perfect Dark began. Once again, the team of Martin Hollis was headed, which also contributed to Goldeneye 007. At short notice, another game started with the British secret agent was considered for the project, which began under the name Covert Ops (Covert Operations), but the idea was quickly rejected again. The topics secret agent and espionage remained, among other things, because the gameplay offers as many possibilities and these were scratched only in Goldeneye 007. In particular, the gadgets should play a greater role, because some team members saw great potential in it.

At the same time, a woman was decided as a new major character, as the team was about Holli’s view that there was little games with a female protagonist at that time. In the design of Joanna Dark, a Hollywood actress played a big role, especially a Hollywood actress. The appearance of Joanna is modeled by Winona Ryder. At that time she was quite exactly the ideas of the team, as the heroine has to look. For the new Sci-Fi-Setting one found appropriate suggestions at Ghost in The Shell or in the works of the author Philipp K. Dick. Nikita and file X also served as inspiration sources.

Name finding and more

The name in turn is a modification of the name of the French national hero Jeanne d’Arc (Johanna of Orléans) and was initially not intended. This connection was made later, but fits perfectly with your personality. However, the story of some developers is told differently, insofar as the naming was quite wanted from the beginning. Also the name of the game, Perfect Dark, was not chosen by chance. The word “dark” should reflect the gloomy nature of the gameplay as well as the interaction of light and dark.

Originally, that should be a central feature of game mechanics, but the hardware of the Nintendo 64 was not progressive enough despite retrofittable memory expansion. Even a torch was installed in the game, but ultimately not used. Holli noticed in an interview 2005 with the magazine retro gamer: “Even today you can see how game developers struggle to use bright and dark as a fundamental gameplay element.” And yet almost all light sources can shoot in Perfect Dark. without drawing out a playful benefit.

It’s not possible without delays

The development of Perfect Dark ran everything but round. There were some reasons for that. In the middle, for example, the employment contract ended with Martin Hollis, which he did not want to extend despite an offer, and then Rare was pulled into new offices at TWYCROSS at the time, where the studio is still sitting today. But that’s not enough, during the move more team members have gone, so much of the team had to be occupied. This was followed by a little reboot in the middle of the development. The game was in the alpha phase, the story was fixed, the first levels were roughly finished and the multiplayer with numerous bots took shapes. Nevertheless, the development of Perfect Dark in the floating, until Edmonds took over the lead as a new head of the project and took more people from other Teams of Rare in Boat.

The whole thing has thrown back the publication for several months. In addition, the game came in front of the release in the headlines. The tragic amokal on the high school in Columbine released a debate for violence in video games and led to a feature of multiplayer mode ‘re-painted. Using the Game Boy Camera, it should be possible to place its own face on a character in multiplayer mode. This feature was also shown as part of the E3 and could be tried by trade fair visitors. Despite existing functionality, it was always crashed. Since Nintendo and Rare did not want to get into the crossfire of the charged media reporting, this function was simply missing in the final version of the game. In addition, there was concern that players could not only record faces.

Multiplayer at it’s best

All of the resistors, despite the multiplayer mode of the First-Person shooter still enjoys great respect today. To date, there are hardly games that offer such a rich range of Ki opponents as the classic of Rare. While in other games often only one type of Ki opponents is available, there is in this ego shooter Sims (short for simulant, today you say bots) with a variety of instructions and difficulty levels. Some fight only with fists, others only have it on the leading player and again others kill them only the one who has killed them before.

SIMS? Bots? Real players? Everything available!

But not only the Sims were extraordinary. In addition to the classic modes like Deathmatch or Team-Deathmatch, Rare has offered playing species like King-of-the-Hill or Capture-The Flag more than twenty years ago. In addition, innovative modes came like Pop-A-Cap or Hold-The-Letter Case, where you had to survive as long as possible to collect points. Again, two modes are particularly stinging. Thanks to the four controller connections installed in the Nintendo 64, you could play the game in the co-op or to choose the mode Counter operative, which was incidentally inspired by the Milmhit Matrix. While a player experienced the story as Joanna Dark, another player takes over the role of changing opponents to succeed Joanna from being successful. Although this mode was considered absolutely innovative at that time, he has hardly been enforced until today and can only be found in a few games.

What is possible is made!

Rare has technically drawn with Perfect Dark pretty much all registers on the Nintendo 64 that were possible. The game offered an opulent single-player campaign, coop modes, a comprehensive multiplayer mode, a scheduled “Game Boy Camera” support, the use of the transfer Paks with Perfect Dark for the Game Boy Color and the then still quite young Rumble function. Only the Microphone Pak, just in Hey You, Pikachu! Used, was not used.

All that also had his price. Without Nintendo’s memory expansion for the console, Perfect Dark was only partially usable. Anyone who did not have the 4MB extension could accommodate neither the campaign or the coal modes nor multiplayer mode with up to four players. Only a few challenges and multiplayer with two players or up to eight Sims was possible. The developers originally did not want to rely on the hardware extension because it could have reduced the sales figures: aggravating for the studio that the development kits for the Nintendo 64 had more memory than the models for the end consumer and always More functions have been installed so that the use was ultimately inevitable. Despite all achievements achieved, some employees are still dissatisfied with the frame rate of the game, despite all technical refinements.

out of impatience with bugs

Towards the end of the development it became difficult for everyone involved. The Nintendo 64 approached the end of his life cycle and every week, which was not in the trade, meant sales. The pressure was immensely, especially because the development lasted much longer than expected. So it happened that the button cheats known from Goldeneye 007, to unlock everything, did not land in the final game due to human failure. A programmer discovered the cheats in the source code, but he held them for a remnant of the development phase of Goldeneye 007 and deleted them shortly. In addition, until the end, there was a game-breaking bug in multiplayer mode, which Rare wanted to fix before the final delivery, but Nintendo had already started production, so the first production series went to trade. Only later, Perfect Dark was delivered without this error. If the production of the modules had started a day later, this bug would not have existed.

High definition under Microsoft

When Rare was sold in 2002 to Microsoft, the RedMonder Group of course wanted to benefit from the rich portfolio. It then took eight years until the ego shooter was also playable on a Microsoft console. Only in 2010 was a Remaster of the game for the Xbox 360 published. The development was not made by Rare, but from 4J Studios, who already brought Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie to the Xbox 360. The core gameplay has remained almost untouched while there were numerous improvements on the technical side. Perfect Dark On the Xbox 360 has a higher resolution, new character models, a higher frame rate and the integration of Xbox Live so that the multiplayer is also playable online. The greatest difference in this article is the fact that on the Xbox 360 up to eight players plus Sims can participate in a game. On the Nintendo 64 it was only four.

The history

The plot of Perfect Dark plays in 2023. Joanna Dark just brought the agent training behind. Now she is sent to her first really big mission. On behalf of the Carrington Institute, she is said to be the help of a DataDyne scientist called Dr. Caroll. Gradually, a story begins to develop in which companies work together with alien breeds to kidnap the US president and ultimately lie the fate of humanity in the hands of a woman and a small aliens called Elvis. The locations that Joanna visited in the course of the game could hardly be more varied. From DataDyne headquarters, it goes to Chicago, to Area 51 in Nevada, a tropical domicile and even a stranger planet. She covers conspiracy, uses alien technology and can ultimately turn everything to good.

5 things that you did not know about Perfect Dark

  • There is a piece of cheese in each level. Contrary to earlier theories, these have no function, but are merely a joke of the developers.
  • Joanna Dark was given another face for the Japanese version to accommodate the local preferences there.
  • The appearance of many minor characters in the game is based on the developers, friends and various British actors.
  • The Japanese version should be marketed under the title Red and Black, but the name was considered to be too unused, so you decided for the Transliteration Pāfekuto Dāku.

  • Perfect Dark was the first game for adults distributed by Nintendo in the US itself. Goldeneye 007, however, was released in the US for teenagers.


Perfect Dark Core/Vengeance [Xbox 360 – Cancelled / Prototype]

Perfect Dark [N64 – Beta]…

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