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GoldenEye 007 Hits Nintendo Switch, Xbox: How to Play and Fix Switch Controls

The 1997 Nintendo 64 first-person shooter brings some retro James Bond action to Nintendo Switch Online and Xbox Game Pass.

Guards confront James Bond in a GoldenEye 007 screenshot
GoldenEye 007 is out on Nintendo Switch and Xbox now.
Rare

Load up your silenced PP7s and prime those remote mines: GoldenEye 007 is available to play via the Nintendo Switch Online and Xbox Game Pass subscription services. The beloved James Bond game originally hit the N64 back in 1997, and this is the first-person shooter's first rerelease since then.

Playing GoldenEye 007 on Nintendo Switch

You'll need to be subscribed to Switch Online's $50-a-year Expansion Pack tier to access GoldenEye and other N64 games. Online multiplayer is exclusive to the Switch release, the official 007 website noted, but this version is otherwise the same as the N64 original.

The default control scheme will likely feel a little weird, but Reddit user Cuesport77 suggested changes that'll bring it in line with modern shooters. I tested this, and it works beautifully (though I opted to use the left analog stick to move around, right for aiming).

1. Go to System Settings > Controllers and Sensors > Change Button Assignments.

2. Create a control profile for GoldenEye.

3. Remap the left analog stick to function as right analog.

4. Remap the right analog stick to function as left analog.

5. Remap ZR button to function as ZL, so you can fire with ZR.

6. Remap ZL to function as L, so you can manual aim with ZL.

7. (Optional) Remap L to function as B, so you can activate things with L.

8. (Optional) Remap R to function as A, so you can switch weapons with R.

(You will now have to navigate using the right analog stick and either A/B or L/R, depending on whether you followed steps 6 and 7.)

9. Launch GoldenEye and begin a mission, navigating menus with the right analog stick.

10. Pause, and go over to Controls.

11. Switch from 1.1 Honey to 1.2 Solitaire.

12. Go over to Settings, and turn the Look Up/Down setting to Upright.

Playing GoldenEye 007 on Xbox

The Game Pass version is playable on Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S. A subscription costs $10 a month, though people who own a digital copy of Rare Replay, the 30-game compilation of classics that came out in 2015, can also get access to GoldenEye for free. That doesn't apply to physical copies of Rare Replay, and the game isn't available to purchase separately.

"The game now offers modern control options (including support for dual analog sticks) and a consistent refresh rate, running at a native 16:9 resolution up to 4K Ultra HD (where supported)," Craig Duncan, head of Microsoft-owned developer Rare, said in a blog post marking the game's release. "There's also a full roster of Xbox achievements to strive for, some of which are sure to test the mettle of proficient 00 Agents."

So it offers more modern bells and whistles than the Switch release, but lacks online multiplayer (you'll still have local splitscreen). 

What's the big deal about GoldenEye 007?

GoldenEye's return was revealed in a Nintendo Direct livestream last September. 

As a licensed tie-in to the 1995 movie that introduced actor Pierce Brosnan as the legendary British secret agent, the game won critical acclaim for its fun single-player campaign and epic split-screen competitive multiplayer. It became the N64's third bestselling title, with 8.09 million units sold -- it was only topped by Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64, which sold 11.91 million and 9.87 million copies, respectively. 

Rare also developed GoldenEye followup Perfect Dark for the N64 in 2000, before Microsoft acquired the company in 2002.

Characters battle in a four-player splitscreen match in GoldenEye 007

Prepare to revisit some '90s splitscreen multiplayer chaos.

Rare

Fans have been expecting a remaster for Microsoft's Xbox Series X and S to be revealed for months, since achievements for it have leaked multiple times. It was reportedly planned for release on Xbox 360 in the late 2010s, and an apparent extended gameplay video appeared in 2016. At the time, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said the game's licensing rights complicated efforts to get it on the console. The versions that came to Switch and Xbox aren't remasters, but upscaled versions of the original game.

Original developer David Doak, whose face was famously used for in-game Bond ally Dr. Doak, expressed both his delight and discontent in a statement to CNET.

"It is heartwarming and very special to see the outpouring of love and nostalgia for the game, it is amazing to have been part of the team that created something that has touched so many people in a positive way," he wrote. "Disappointing that none of the parties involved in this re-release have made any attempt to involve that original team in any way. Feels shabby and disingenuous."

Doak regularly tweets about the game and engages with fans. Last September, he posted a shot of himselef dressed like his in-game counterpart, and joked that players shouldn't "come crying" to him if they have trouble unlocking the infamous Invincibility cheat. That's one of the game's most difficult challenges -- you have to beat the Facility level in under 2 minutes, 5 seconds to get it. He's spoken at length about the game's development over the years, and tweeted a 1997 shot of the original development team on Wednesday.

Read moreGoldenEye at 20: We Raise a Martini to a Classic Game

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Bond's first appearance, in author Ian Fleming's novel Casino Royale. Last year was the 60th anniversary of the Bond movie franchise -- with latest film No Time to Die now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video -- but the series is in a state of flux as fans await the announcement of Daniel Craig's successor in the role. Hitman developer IO Interactive is also working on its own Bond game.