Though Rare hit a home run with 1997's first-person shooter GoldenEye 007, there's another game that made the Nintendo 64 its home by the same developer that deserves the very same notoriety: Perfect Dark. Despite its popularity with fans, however, it's been 15 years since we saw an addition to the series with 2005's Perfect Dark Zero on Xbox 360.
Fast forward to 2020's The Game Awards, and it finally looks like we're getting a brand new entry in the Perfect Dark series. The newly-formed Microsoft studio The Initiative will handle its development, which means it will feature talents from creators who worked on games like Tomb Raider, Red Dead Redemption, and a variety of other titles. While we know nothing about the game other than the fact that it exists, it will likely be a reboot.
Revisiting a classic
And it's high time Perfect Dark saw the light of day once more. It's perpetually one of the most overlooked franchises born on the Nintendo 64 and has been all but ignored over the years. Developed and published by Rare, Perfect Dark was one of the last big games for the Nintendo 64, but it was a spectacular adventure that allowed the system to go out with a bang, not a whimper.
It's no surprise that it played extremely well and those who picked it up found themselves enamored. Many of the same developers who brought GoldenEye to life were responsible for Perfect Dark, so its quality was all but guaranteed. It even used an upgraded version of the same GoldenEye 007 engine, with important iterations that made it a much more powerful game than its predecessor.
The game, set in 2023, followed covert operative Joanna Dark as she worked to infiltrate defense contractor company DataDyne. What she got was far more than she bargained for, as she found herself in the middle of a massive conflict that threatened Earth's very existence. Plus, as a female protagonist, Dark delivered experiences that were pretty rare at the time. For her to be utilized in an action-packed first-person shooter equal in quality to GoldenEye 007 with a gripping single-player campaign and multiplayer options was nearly unheard of at the time.
Perfect Dark Zero
Unfortunately, Perfect Dark, and Joanna by extension, wasn't heard of for five more years. The Xbox 360 finally debuted, and the series made a return with Perfect Dark Zero. It really shouldn't have even bothered, though, as it was such a stark disappointment in comparison to the original game that it soured fans in many ways when it arrived on store shelves.
Perfect Dark Zero was an attempt at creating a prequel for the series that once again followed Joanna Dark. This time, however, she sported garish orange hair and a completely different look overall that felt jarring from one game to the other. It was meant to explore her time working with her father as a bounty hunter and hacker ahead of her job with the Carrington Institute in the original Perfect Dark.
The lengthy campaign was serviceable enough but ultimately forgettable. It suffered from weak artificial intelligence for its enemies, a buggy cooperative mode, and absolutely abhorrent voice acting. It was hardly the Xbox 360's killer app, and it could barely stand up to the original game.
There wasn't any redemption song in sight for Perfect Dark following Zero's release. In fact, it's been 15 years now since we've seen anything from the franchise despite how popular it was upon its initial debut.
The future of Perfect Dark
Now, seemingly out of thin air, we've got a new Perfect Dark to look forward to after years of silence. Unfortunately, it's difficult to discern where, exactly, the franchise has been all this time. It's quite possible it's just been lying dormant, waiting for the right developer to come along and pluck it up to breathe new life into it.
While we don't really know what's coming next for Perfect Dark as a whole, it's still great news that we're getting a new game. Is this finally Joanna Dark's big comeback on modern consoles? Will we see the same type of follies that came with the first addition to the Dark mythos? We'll have to wait and see. But for now, it's time to start thinking hard about what to expect next.
It's time to welcome Joanna back to a new generation of gamers. And we're ready to see it grow as strong as it was initially on Nintendo 64.
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