That Time An Island In GoldenEye Disappointed A Generation

Illustration for article titled That Time An Island In GoldenEye Disappointed A Generation
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Far off in the distance, beyond the murky arctic waters, the vague silhouette of a tower can be seen through the mist. You raise your sniper rifle for a closer look. A solitary island is nestled away from all the chaos. What secrets does it hold?


This piece originally appeared 3/21/17.

GoldenEye 007 is one of the most formative first person shooters in gaming history. The Nintendo 64 classic helped solidify objective based shooters on consoles, asking players to navigate a web of tasks in order to complete a level. The first level was the Dam. It was full of alarms to disable and data to steal. But there was a single curiosity that grabbed gamers’ attention. A lone island on the other side of the dam. Surely, there was a special gun awaiting across the water. Perhaps there was a hidden objective to complete.

GoldenEye came at a time when internet rumor mongering mixed with the hacking tools like the Game Shark. Whereas rumors about Ocarina of Time’s Triforce led to massive hoaxes, GoldenEye players opted for a more empirical approach to their mysteries.

If the island could be reached and examined, secrets might be unlocked. The use of a No-Clipping code allowed amateur sleuths to saunter over the the island. What they found was underwhelming. The island was empty. The gun turret lay dormant. The guard tower was unmanned. There were no special guns. There was no hidden NPCs. You couldn’t even climb the ladder in the tower.

A decade after release Rare fan site MundoRare spoke to GoldenEye team members Mark Edmonds and Duncan Botwood, who offered some closure for curious fans.

“I think the original plan was to have a building over there to go and investigate, with armor as a reward,” Botwood said. “That would have meant a boat ride needed to be coded in”


“We never got around to implementing the boat,” Edmonds added. The island remained, an unreachable casualty of design prioritization.

The story of GoldenEye’s island is a story of disappointment. It is a moment where myth crumbled to reveal the realities of game development to a new generation of gamers. But hey, there might have been body armor out there!

Former Senior Writer and Critic at Kotaku.


God I remember absolutely agonising over that island when I was in middle school. Even after I got access to a gameshark and wandered my way over there (that gameshark code was absolutely massive btw, unless you were using a PC to transfer it on to the device via the serial port it took forever to input) I was sure there was more to it.

It took me a few more years to understand better how video game development works and that stuff like that island and Ourumov’s briefcase and key that cause a silo door to open were just relics of unfinished ideas from development. Even still, that island holds a sort of mythic status, hanging out over on the other side of that dam. It was one of my first big gaming mysteries, and I’ll never forget it.

(Man, that seems like a cool article, getting people to reminisce on their favourite gaming mysteries and myths... assuming it hasn’t already been done and I’ve forgotten about it.)