GoldenEye 007 Controls On Switch Are Wildly Unintuitive

What is this? What even IS this?


After years languishing in apparent legal limbo, the fan-favorite N64 game GoldenEye 007 has finally returned to modern consoles. The developer of the original game, Rare, has since been acquired by Microsoft, so both the Nintendo Switch and Xbox consoles received the game simultaneously as part of some kind of 007 custody agreement. Unfortunately, like many divorces, one parent has their shit together and the other one clearly doesn't. The Switch default controls are, in a word, terrible.

I wasn't sure if I would replay the entire game from my youth, but I liked the idea of at least revisiting it on a handheld, so I fired up the Switch version first. I started the Dam level and figured I'd find my bearings as I explored. Immediately I moved right in front of a guard, and mashed buttons wildly until I found the one that shot him. I crossed the bridge, awkwardly dispatched a few more guards, and then found myself staring up at the sky, somehow? I made it through the stage mostly by just hip-shotting my way through legions of Russian guards thanks to the generous aim-assist of Agent (aka Easy) mode.

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You see, on Switch, the default controls are virtually the exact opposite of every single thing you'd expect. The left stick looks and moves forward and backward, and the right stick strafes and looks. The D-pad also strafes. Either shoulder button aims down sights, but only the ZL button fires your weapon. The ZR button, the one you'd traditionally imagine firing a gun, does absolutely nothing. The B button reloads and opens doors and the A button changes weapons. X looks up and Y strafes left, for some reason? What is this? What even is this?

I briefly cycled through the other control options, but they were all different flavors of bad. The core problem seems to come down to the ZR button simply being off-limits for button mapping. The game is running in an N64 emulator, so it's assuming you're using an actual N64 controller and mapping the Switch buttons to specific N64 inputs. As a result, every control configuration has to place the fire button on ZL or a face button and then organize the rest of the controls around that.

Maybe these controls, the ones that feel like they were designed as part of some cruel social experiment on gamers, are actually reminiscent of the ones found on the original N64; I don't know. Frankly, I don't want to know. The Nintendo 64 controller was a bizarre three-uddered monstrosity by itself so of course a modern controller doesn't map cleanly onto its interface. The real question is why you would even try.

For the sake of curiosity I went ahead and downloaded it onto my Xbox as well and to my shock, it works just fine. The buttons are mapped to the places you would imagine they would be mapped to. I changed my weapon by tapping the Y button. I aimed down sights and shot using the correct shoulder buttons. It's a little clunky, as you'd probably expect from any modern port of a very old game, but it functions. Compared to the Switch port, it's Call of Duty.

There is a weird, backwards hacky way to get modern(-ish) controls into GoldenEye 007 on Switch. That option wasn't available to me, as the button remapping wasn't available on my Split Pad Pro controller. I wouldn't fault anyone for trying it out--especially if the Switch is your only option, and you're aching for that sweet nostalgia. Switch is also the only one with online multiplayer, so you'll need to find some kind of acceptable solution if you want to frustrate your faraway friends by picking Oddjob in every match.

But if you have a choice, and don't mind the lack of online play, just do yourself a favor and play the Xbox version. It may not be as accurate to the original, but it feels correct. No extra work or hoops required.

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