Concern about royalty fees surrounding gun names led Rare to rename Bond’s broad arsenal of weapons based on developers, including the Klobb.
It’s been 23 years since the release of GoldenEye 007, and its developer has just revealed why the game used fake names for guns, rather than the ones used in the James Bond films. The first-person shooter became a revolution in the genre, not least because it was one of the first adaptations that wasn’t patently awful. Despite having an inexperienced development team at the helm, GoldenEye 007 became one of the most important and influential titles in gaming history, particularly for its realism – although that quality didn’t extend to its arsenal of weapons.
GoldenEye 007 went into development at Rare in 1995, months before GoldenEye the film hit theaters in November of the same year. Likely owing to the poor reputation of film-to-game adaptations, the project was handed over to a relatively inexperienced team, headed by Martin Hollis. It was originally conceived as a 2D side-scroller for the SNES, but Hollis convinced Rare to build the game as a 3D shooter for the then-in development Nintendo 64, focusing heavily on realistic movement and environments. While the developers received a broad license from MGM to allow them to alter levels and expand them to broaden player experience, and a license from Nintendo that gave the studio an unprecedented amount of freedom to do as they wished, there were only two things that were off-limits for legal reasons: the likenesses of previous Bond incarnations (which is why Sean Connery’s face will never show up in a Bond game), and the names of the real-life weapons that the film uses.
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Gun names, like car names, are licensed property, and cannot be used in other media without paying the manufacturers royalties. In addition, in the mid-90s, the laws surrounding gun royalties were still a bit muddled and developers weren’t keen to test the waters. But Hollis was undeterred by Nintendo’s legal fears, and decided to get creative with renaming Bond’s arsenal with the help of his team, according to his interview with Independent: “We basically went around the team asking people: ‘OK, you can have one gun with your name. What gun would you like it to be?’” While initials were the most commonly used, players of the original will remember the Klobb, named for Nintendo producer Ken Lobb, both for its name and its own particular notoriety as one of the worst in-game weapons ever.
Still, Hollis and his team enjoyed significant freedoms unusual for a team of its size and experience, and as a result, the game was not rushed to completion. In fact, it was released closer to the film’s sequel, Tomorrow Never Dies, but it became quickly apparent that the time was well spent. GoldenEye 007 was released to critical acclaim and is still remembered today, recently showing up in a mod for Half-Life: Alyx.
GoldenEye 007 set the bar for quality first-person shooters on consoles, and helped propel the popularity of the Nintendo 64. Although subsequent Bond games were reasonably good, none of them ever saw the same level of acclaim as GoldenEye 007. And, since the James Bond game license was revoked in 2013, it’s highly likely that it’ll stay that way. So fans can rest easy knowing that the Klobb will never be replaced as the most memorable weapon name in a Bond game, or as the most memorably bad weapon ever.
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