Its officially been 20 years since Perfect Dark hit the N64, a game that's absolutely synonymous with the platform. Yet another feather in RARE's cap at the time, Perfect Dark took what GoldenEye 007 did and pushed it to the limit. The game forever remains in the minds of RARE and Nintendo fans, and is still a very important part of FPS history.
In honor of the 20-year anniversary, Eurogamer reached out to a number of different people who were tied to Perfect Dark at the time. Former RARE members, Nintendo employees, and more. Martin Hollis, David Doak, Karl Hilton, Steve Ellis, Graeme Norgate, Brett Jones, Ken Lobb, and others gathered to look back on the game's creation, struggles, and much more. You can check out a few choice snippets from the interview below.
Passing up the chance for a GoldenEye 007 sequel
MARTIN HOLLIS (team lead): From my desk, I had a call come in from Simon Farmer, head of production at Rare, to ask if we were interested in doing a sequel. You know, straight up. We thought about this for a day or two, and we replied to him to say no, and that was the last we ever heard of doing a Bond sequel. I'm surprised in retrospect because Nintendo made so much money from the game you would have thought they would have put more pressure or at least made more encouraging noises towards Rare to try and persuade them to do a sequel in the same line so they could have a similarly financially successful second product. But after myself and the team saying no, I didn't hear anything more about it, and they respected our choice to make a different style of game.
Joanna Dark as the anti-Lara Croft
BRETT JONES (animator): The idea was to do something that was the antithesis of Lara Croft. Although she was incredibly successful, she was a bit two dimensional. We wanted a female heroine with a bit more pizzazz and snap to her. Dr. Doak came up with Joanna Dark, which is from Joan of Arc, Jeanne d'Arc being the French, so that's where the name comes from.
Arriving at the Perfect Dark name
DOAK: Covert Ops became Alien Intelligence when we decided we were going to have aliens in the story. Trying to name it was hilarious. In the end, Martin and I had a random word mixer. It had a database of 200 words, and it just used to run and spit out names. And we'd go, oh, we like that one. The test of a name was, if you printed it out on a piece of paper and stuck it to the wall and you didn't hate it in two days' time, then maybe that was okay. Perfect Dark came out of that because dark and perfect were two of the words that were in there.
RARE keeping Nintendo in business
DOAK: Looking back on it, I think it was an amazing place. The stuff Rare did, particularly the N64, kept Nintendo in business. It was a powerhouse. Without the Rare catalogue, Nintendo might not be in business now. Also, at Rare, we weren't competing with the rest of the world. We were competing with the other teams at Rare. It was a hotbed of creativity. Tim and Chris did a really good job of insulating the creativity and the production and development from the usual bullshit that is out there, but we kind of paid a price for that as well, I suppose.
Using the RAM expansion
HOLLIS: We didn't plan to use the ram pak from the beginning. It was simply the accretion of all the features that were added to the engine, to the levels of the game, meant that it didn't really work on the conventional size of N64. So the decision to actually use that was made fairly late in development, to have that as a required thing.
64DD and online support interest
LOBB: I wanted them to use the 64DD and have online; and although that ended up not happening, I still wanted the Expansion Pak to ship.
This is just a small snippet of a massive interview. Make sure you take the time to read the full thing.