A newly released mod for the emulated version of Goldeneye randomizes a number of elements to make gameplay much more varied, especially for those who have played it to death in the past. The ROM hack tweaks everything from the physical location of guards to their outfits, but most importantly, it randomizes their guns, too, making for some surprisingly difficult additions to the classic title.
Although one of the most iconic console games of its generation, Goldeneye on the N64 does have a few issues when looked at through modern lenses. Its lack of dual stick movement is clunky to 21st-century thumbs and its heavily scripted levels aren’t as nuanced as some more modern shooters — unless you play its free Source remake.
The “Janus” mod, named after the fictional criminal organization in Goldeneye, doesn’t do much for movement, but it does add a measure of procedural enemies to the game.
The ROM hack has gone through a few iterations, but at this point makes big changes to the look and feel of most levels. For starters, it randomizes enemy weapons, meaning that where once you were being shot at by a few guards with pistols, one of them may come out swinging with karate chops, or a super weapon like a grenade launcher.
Higher-ranked enemies will now have better weapons and unique clothing options to differentiate them and to make them more visually interesting. Some of those enemies can even spawn clones of themselves, making for some much more protracted and attritive firefights than you would otherwise expect.
To really throw you off your game on your next playthrough, Bond villains will appear randomly in some levels, offering a much stiffer challenge to long-time players.
Developing this hack was quite a complicated process, Motherboard explains. To create it, the developer had to build a mod that unpacked heavily compressed Goldeneye files, altered them, and then recompressed them before injecting them back into the ROM without holding up proceedings. That sort of thing would not have been possible on an N64, but thanks to the magic of modern computing, emulated versions of Goldeneye can feel fresh and much more challenging.
If you want to follow the ongoing development of the ROM hack, you can read all about it on the ShootersForever forum.