One thing that was really amazing about GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64, way back in 1997, were the death animations. If you shot a Russian soldier in the throat, for example, he'd clutch at his jugular with one hand and flail wildly with the other as he fell to his knees. And to think, Nintendo almost robbed us of this moment.
Speaking at the GameCity festival in Nottingham, according to the The Guardian, Martin Hollis of GoldenEye 007 developer Rare explained Nintendo was very worried about the depiction of violence in the game prior to release. Shigeru Miyamoto himself, who created Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and other iconic games, voiced his concerns to Rare.
"One point was that there was too much close-up killing—he found it a bit too horrible," Hollis said. "I don't think I did anything with that input. The second point was, he felt the game was too tragic, with all the killing. He suggested that it might be nice if, at the end of the game, you got to shake hands with all your enemies in the hospital."
Rare didn't go that far, but Hollis said that the studio did make the game less violent than it initially envisioned.
"For a while we had some gore, it was just a flipbook of about 40 textures, beautifully rendered gore that would explode out," he said. "When I saw it the first time, I thought it was awesome, it was a fountain of blood, like that moment in 'The Shining' when the lift doors open. Then I thought, hmm, this might be a bit too much red."
As anyone who played the game knows, the most gore you see in GoldenEye 007 are little spots of blood where bullets strike. Still, GoldenEye 007 remains an unusual game in Nintendo's history. The Nintendo 64 exclusive was technically impressive at the time, established many conventions for console first-person shooters (before Halo!), a genre that Nintendo has close to nothing to do with these days. It's also much more violent than most games Nintendo associates itself with, even after Miyamoto's objections.