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GoldenEye 007 and The Power of Cheating Death

When we were little gamer children, we were in awe of the Nintendo 64. With only a few 16-Bit games half-heartedly attempting 3D gameplay previously, the N64 changed gaming forever. The ground shifted when Mario first popped out of his pipe in front of Princess Peach’s castle, with Lakitu explaining the brand-new camera dynamics.

We spent nearly a year beating Super Mario 64, Pilotwings 64, and Wave Racer 64. But in August of 1997, gaming’s future ground would shake once again with the release of GoldenEye 007. While certainly not the first FPS (First-Person Shooter) game out there, it has been widely lauded as the first truly great FPS on a home console. For many gamers now in our 30s, it was our first exposure to the genre. It even had multiplayer!

Having finally returned in its original form via the Nintendo Switch Online Virtual Console, we finally have the chance to relive this game truly for the first time since our childhoods. And while there is a bit of a learning curve—or…an un-learning curve, I suppose, as we try to forget a lot of the innovation from current gen FPS games—once you get the hang of it again, it really delivers on the nostalgia and fun.

Growing up in the 90s, we were familiar with cheat codes. The gang at Rare decided GoldenEye 007, which followed the James Bond movie plot pretty closely, would mix things up. Not only did the developers include several codes you could enter in while playing to make you invisible, give you infinite ammo, or unlock every gun in the game, but they also made it possible to unlock an entire cheat menu where you could simply toggle off and on whatever cheats you wanted. Want to start the stage with two rocket launchers? How about kicking on “turbo mode” to go twice as fast? Would you like to shoot paintballs at enemies that kinda look like humans transformed into Donkey Kong? You can do all this in GoldenEye 007.

Photo courtesy of Rare.

And the cheat codes still deliver today.

The greatest cheat code in any game, arguably, is the ability to become invincible. No matter how daunting a map, how many enemies, or how difficult the objectives, walking into a stage knowing that nothing can kill you is a feeling of pure bliss. Sure, you are taking away a lot of the challenge, but sometimes that is the point. Sometimes you want to play with a bit more power. Sometimes you want to mindlessly coast. Sometimes you want a break from the challenge, and memorizing a cheat code to make that happen is a superpower—and one we rarely get to experience anymore.

When playing GoldenEye 007 as children, many of us found ourselves stuck on one level or another. No matter how many attempts we made to get Natalya out of that bunker alive, we just couldn’t pull it off. So, we’d put in a little invincibility cheat code and made it past that terrible escort level so we could finish the rest of the game.

It feels like an unfair advantage—but a welcome one. After all, the people who made the game put it in there. It’s almost wrong not to use it once in a while.

Though perhaps a touch crass to compare an unlockable advantage in a video game to the Savior of the world dying our death to give us a new, everlasting life, it does feel as if Jesus broke the rules of the game.

In the real world, we don’t have cheat codes. However, we do have invincibility. Though perhaps a touch crass to compare an unlockable advantage in a video game to the Savior of the world dying our death to give us a new, everlasting life, it does feel as if Jesus broke the rules of the game. From the beginning of time, our sin brought us death, and we had to grind away to seek forgiveness through suffering and sacrifice. Then God sent His Son to give us the ultimate cheat codethe power to cheat death itself.

Believers have been given a cheat code by the Programmer to walk in this world unafraid of what it might do to us. But with that comes a mission to escort those around us to safety. We are called to give them the cheat code, so when they are ready to use it, they’ll have it. Beyond that, make it your mission to enjoy the game with them—multiplayer is the big draw, after all.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (ESV)

Station Manager of LTN Radio and co-host of the "Nerd History Podcast" & the "Two Words Podcast". Matt is a third-generation radio station manager who has done pretty much every job in the radio industry. Matt is the father of two boys and a little girl. It's probably the best thing about him.

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Today in Nerd History | October 12

A daily re-cap of this date in the history of movies, TV shows, video games, comics, wrestling and more!