GoldenEye controls better on Xbox than on Switch — can they be changed?


The long, long awaited reissue of Rare’s classic 1997 James Bond shooter GoldenEye 007 is available on Nintendo Switch and Xbox consoles today — and you might want to carefully consider which version you play.

As announced earlier this week, only GoldenEye on Switch has online multiplayer. But it turns out the Xbox version of the game also has an exclusive feature which might have an even bigger impact on your enjoyment: modern first-person shooter controls.

Nintendo has taken a purist approach with the Switch version of GoldenEye. The game doesn’t support any inputs which didn’t exist on the original Nintendo 64 controller, which means no right trigger to fire from. The various control options available in the game — all carried over from the original, with their Bond-inspired names like “Honey,” “Solitaire,” and “Goodnight” — only allow fire to be assigned to the left trigger or the A button.

The N64 controller also only had a single analog stick. Nintendo does map the four yellow C buttons, which formed a kind of secondary D-pad, onto the Switch’s right stick, but none of the available control maps correspond to the modern standard for twin-stick first-person controls, with move and strafe on the left stick, and aim and turn on the right. There’s also no custom control option.

Doubtless the game will feel great if you have one of Nintendo’s classic N64 controllers — or even better, two, so you can use one of its dual-wield options — but as it stands, on a standard Switch or a Pro Controller, the options all feel quite ungainly and will take some getting used to. (There is a workaround that involves swapping the Switch’s Joy-cons, but it’s a bit of a fiddle and not that comfortable, plus it isn’t an option for Switch Lite owners or handheld play.)

The Xbox version, by contrast, adds two new control options to the original game’s eight (though even these reassign fire from the left trigger to the right). “Diamond” is a classic modern FPS setup, with move and look operating as normal on the sticks, and fire on the right trigger. The game plays effortlessly this way. The other option is a fully customizable control map, which is a win for accessibility.

What about other differences between the two versions? The Switch’s exclusive online multiplayer mode works via the Switch Online lobby interface: create a room with some friends there, then jump in and play together as if playing locally. Yes — that means you’ll still be able to see each other’s screens in split-screen. There’s no matchmaking with randoms available. It’s not exactly elegant, but if it’s your only way to play with friends, it’s a huge bonus.

Additionally, the Switch version of GoldenEye allows the game’s cheats (additional modes, characters, weapons, and levels) to be unlocked by entering cheat codes, as did the original. The Xbox version doesn’t appear to support this, and cheats need to be unlocked the hard way through gameplay. For its part, the Xbox version has 55 new achievements to go for.

GoldenEye is available in the Nintendo 64 collection that forms part of the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription on Switch. On Xbox, it’s included in an Xbox Game Pass subscription, or as a free update to the Rare Replay collection. It can’t be bought separately on either system.

So: modern controls and achievements, or online multiplayer and cheat codes? In an ideal world we’d have them all in a single version, but we don’t. The choice is yours.