Perfect Dark (Nintendo 64) Review

By Adam Riley 21.03.2006 15

Review for Perfect Dark on Nintendo 64

Once upon a time there was a company called Rare, who was extremely close friends with Nintendo. So close that it almost single-handedly helped the N64 through a tough generation. Rare created GoldenEye, the seminal FPS that still proves a benchmark to developers everywhere. However, after relinquishing the James Bond licence to Electronic Arts, its planned sequel had to take a significant change of theme. Thus Perfect Dark was born. How did it compare to the legend of 007, though?

Whereas GoldenEye 007 was not too difficult to script due to it being based of the movie of the same name, Perfect Dark was a tougher cookie. However, the writers at Rare came up trumps with this tale of mystery and espionage surrounding the special Government agent Joanna Dark, codename 'Perfect Dark', set in the near future. Everything starts out under conspiratorial circumstances, but eventually pans out into a battle between alien groups allied peacefully with Ms Dark's agency and adversely with the corrupt dataDyne Corporation.

By this point the Nintendo 64 was on its last legs and ready to give up the fight after being pummelled for years by Sony's first entry into the gaming world, the 32-bit PlayStation. However, avoiding talk of sales, Rare was at a point where the only developer to command a greater visual presence on the system was Nintendo itself. The UK outfit had already stunned gamers with the highly impressive GoldenEye and now found itself with the task of improving upon that for the pseudo-sequel. And rather than relax, it stepped up, grabbed the task with both hands and cranked out a gorgeous title full or dark hues, wicked looking evils, superb lighting effects and masses of action on-screen. The only drawback was the amount of slowdown witnessed, especially during multiplayer bouts and when some of the more impressive weaponry came into play, despite utilising the N64's 'Expansion Pak'. However, it was a small price to pay for such beauty, and along with the stirring soundtrack it certainly is hard to criticise the game too much.

Screenshot for Perfect Dark on Nintendo 64

Now, if you have never played GoldenEye then there is definitely a whole in your gaming life, since it was (and still is) one of the finest examples of the First Person Shooter genre around. Perfect Dark is its successor. But just exactly do you manage to improve upon perfection in the first place? Surely it just is not possible? The way Rare went about the process, though, was to stick as much into Perfect Dark as it could possibly do without completely overheating the Nintendo 64, all the while maintaining the award-winning gameplay mechanic that made the Bond FPS so exhilarating.

Therefore, players are faced with near enough two dozen different missions, each jam-packed with intensive, brain-taxing and skill-flexing objectives that must be completed. And if you think you will breeze through easily, damn you are so far from the mark it is untrue! You may be asked to simply protect an ally, reach a certain location, find specific documents or destroy key enemy devices. The amount of objectives per mission all depends on the difficulty level you choose to endure. Want to make your life hell? Then crank up the settings and prepare for the whitewash that ensues...

Screenshot for Perfect Dark on Nintendo 64

Okay, so perhaps those that worked their way through GoldenEye 007 may not be initially as impressed with this as newcomers, but the experience is so fruitful that any similarities of technical limitations are easily cast aside. The sheer amount of extras mixed into the main gameplay is truly astonishing. You only have to look at the fact that you are able to play through the whole game with a friend (or computer-aided partner) in horizontal split-screen to see that original ideas had been expanded to a large degree. In fact, the upped levels of enemy AI was immense as well, with your foes clearly being far more aware of your presence than they were in GoldenEye, actually using tactics to defeat you, such as working as a pack to efficiently bring you down. But YOU can also be sly, shooting weapons from people's hands and collecting them for your own use (watch out for the reverse happening to you, though...), plus there is the dual ability of weapons that plays a massive part in certain missions.

And if that is not enough, how do you fancy the idea of playing through the solo missions against a friend? A mate can jump in and act as any enemy around you, aiming to hamper your progress as much as possible, before being defeated and leaping into another enemy's body to help continue your plight! There is such a vast array of things to do, see and blast through that was not found in GoldenEye, it is quite a tricky decision to make over which is the better game. Perhaps the Bond title should receive the accolade for its revolution of the genre, whilst Perfect Dark match it in terms of extra content and care poured into the final product. Sound fair? Probably not to die-hard fans out there...

Screenshot for Perfect Dark on Nintendo 64

The level of value for money found in Perfect Dark is fantastic, with the game remaining as fresh as it was back in 2000 to this very day. This is purely thanks to the enormous amount of replayability within the tightly packed N64 cartridge. Rare truly made use of the extra breathing space provided by the N64 Expansion Pak, not only giving players an epic adventure to play through on three difficulty levels, but including one of the most extensive home console multiplayer experiences of all time. Stacks of maps are available and the same goes for the number of Simulants you can play against, each with distinct personalities and degrees of pure difficulty. Look at completing Perfect Dark in its entirety over a couple of days and you can truly call yourself a master at gaming. The rest of us will merrily sit playing the game for years to come...

Screenshot for Perfect Dark on Nintendo 64

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

And there you have it, a classic N64 game that never quite achieved the level of recognition it deserved to get. It makes you wonder what would have happened to Perfect Dark had Nintendo and Rare held it back as a launch for the GameCube. This is definitely one of the finest First Person Shooters created, and a damn worthy successor to GoldenEye 007. Certainly one to look up if included in Nintendo's Virtual Console...






First Person Shooter



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (10 Votes)

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The single player was good in this, but nothing special. Frankly, after the first four levels (Datadyne building and the Villa) I lost interest, the second the Aliens got involved... well...

The multiplayer, amazing! But for some reason we were always more drawn to Goldeneye still. I guess it's the same with Halo and Halo 2, something felt different that wasn't quite as good and so the previous game is still what get LAN'd and played with gusto.

my flatmate is looking for this, apparently its really rare. I've never played it, but he wants it really badly :P

Co-founder of the PDSLB - Pink DS Lite Buddies Fraz: Cheerios are made from fairy orgasms.

Its not exactly rare, it sold extremely well, it's just very sought after, and with fresh interest after the release of the prequal on 360.
I wouldn't be surprised if it turned up on Xbox live arcade at some point, which would be gay.

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.

i have it, goldeneye is better though.


Never played it :O, looks alright though.

XBL Gamertag: James2t3

I never got round to buying it I was to intrested in the new consoles.

This was an amazing game ive never clocked as much hours on any other game, i wrecked 3 N64 controller sticks just playing this game. Its story is pretty good if you pay great attention to it and it was the alien involvement of it all that made the story clever.
Its funny how i never noticed slow down on the game untill i went back to play on it now.

-Have you any idea what it's like to be a Fembot living in a Manbot's Manputer's world?

Good game, but golden eye was probably better...problem probably was that it was too ambitious for the N64, was pushin it a bit too much and the N64 was strugglin to cope, hence the graphical issues, which then affected the gameplay...

"apparently its really rare"

Rare? Two years ago I could still buy this game new at some stores.

Still, it isn't worth it. Goldeneye was better.

I could've sworn it was a fairly rare game...

Well I've got a perfectly mint copy sat at home, along with various other classic SNES and N64 games...I'll check on how rare it is on eBay and then may consider selling it :-D

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Still is probaly my favourite FPS of allt ime ond one of my fave rare games, I even prefer it o goldeneye. The story was great, weapons were fantastically designed (how much did I love the farsight) and the multiplayer is still one of the best Ive played (and still do). great game

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Nintendo HQ

Easily the best FPS on any console, I have logged more time into this game then any other.

Gods in His Heaven. Alls right in the World.

This was one of the best games on the N64 games next to Goldeneye. The single player is just amazing and the multiplayer was neally as good as Goldeneyes. The levels were fantastic. Everything about this game is awsome.Smilie

SuperYoshi6 PSN name
3DS friend code 2878-9581-8999

This easily topped Goldeneye. Why? Well because it brings something similar to Goldeneye only 10x bigger.

Most people only remember the single player of Goldeneye compared to perfect and base their opinion on that. But the big power of Perfect Dark lies is its massive multiplayer. Which puts Goldeneye to shame.

The ammounts of weapons this game had..
The number of songs this game had..
All the things you could adjust in multiplayer..

Thats why people love this game. Its such a huge package and worked out so well. Wont find this in any other shooter these days.

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