There have, to date, been precisely two reasons to buy an N64 (three, if you count being under 12). One is the frankly overrated Zelda, The Ocarina of Time, an award-grabbing title that seemed rather young to me.
The other is the infinitely better Goldeneye, the previous title from developer Rare. It was an excellent first-person shooter with great graphics, wonderful weaponry and a very long shelf-life. It was, in many ways, a revelation and there are many who still play it today. Although if you have only got an N64, it is the only decent mature game around, and it is a sad reflection on the dearth of decent N64 titles that people still give it as reason enough to buy the console.
So it was with great anticipation that N64 owners awaited Perfect Dark from the same team. Three years in the making and it is finally here. And the answer isÉ well, it is not that bad. Not great, not particularly revolutionary. But not that bad.
Without a film franchise to hang it on, Rare needed to invent a new hero and, with one eye presumably ogling Lara Croft, it decided to come up with super-agent Joanna Dark, "beautiful, intelligent, lethal".
Next, the developers concocted a decidedly B-movie plot. The date is 2023 and Dark needs to infiltrate the evil Datadyne Corporation, which is in cahoots with aliens bent on annihilation. Yeah, whatever.
The game is set across 17 different levels, in which you have to complete various objectives - downloading files, escorting people and so on. There are some improvements and innovations. You can, for instance, disarm an enemy or be disarmed, which can turn the tide of a fight somewhat.
But, like Goldeneye, it is the multiplayer features that most excite. Perfect Dark brings in the idea of bots, or "simulants", with which to play against. You can also play the game competitively. You can even have a human control all the enemies as you play through the single-player missions.
A rare reason to consider the N64.
This was first published in August 2000