For more than two decades, GoldenEye 007 players have been trying to figure out how to get the fastest time on the game’s hardest level without grabbing an out of the way piece of body armor to help them survive. Turns out all speedrunner Gus Riolo needed to skip the body armor and claim the new world record was a little bit of trickery.
Based on the film Moonraker, the Aztec bonus in GoldenEye level requires players to run through a gauntlet of elite soldiers and turrets while waiting for a shuttle to launch. The yellow-suited guards are everywhere, backed up by powerful robotic guns that can even be found in the level’s air ducts. It’s a tough level to beat on any of the game’s three difficulty levels, but particularly brutal at the highest, 00 Agent. Each enemy hit drops Mr. Bond’s health by two levels, which means he can take five hits total before it’s game over.
As speedrunning documentarian Karl Jobst explains in his exhaustive video on the subject, the only salvation runners had for over 20 years was a bit of body armor located in one of the level’s ventilation shafts. Grabbing it wasted precious seconds, but it effectively doubles the player’s health making surviving the final gauntlet more feasible.
But what if the armor could be skipped? Runners have been trying and failing to shave down their times by skipping the armor for years. The tricky part is there are sections of the Aztec level where Bond is guaranteed to get hit. Specifically, there’s a turret in one of the ducts that is guaranteed to mess a secret agent up.
Or it was, until a couple of runners discovered a stupid turret trick. Instead of simply running straight down the vent and getting shot, players can go forward just enough to get the turret’s attention and then step backwards, which causes it to start turning around to track them. This gives players enough time to run down the corridor without getting shot. That, in turn, gives players full health leading into the final room, which speedrunner Gus Riolo used to achieve the new world record for 00 Agent Aztec of 1:34 late last month.
Now that the new strat has been proven, it’s only a matter of time before someone else uses it to shave off another second or so. That’s what speedrunning is all about, searching for new ways to achieve faster times, even after decades of failed attempts suggest that it can’t be done.