Playing GoldenEye on my iPad is real, and it's spectacular

Playing GoldenEye on an iPad
(Image credit: TechRadar)

I've never finished the single-player part of GoldenEye, even though I've been playing it since 1999 - and that's mainly due to how good the multiplayer side is. For so long now, I've had to dig out a Nintendo 64 and four controllers just to play Rare's game from 1997 with friends to grab the golden gun, but finally, that's no more.

On January 27, 2023, GoldenEye was made available for both the Nintendo Switch and Xbox Game Pass, and even though the Switch has exclusive online multiplayer, the single player campaign, and local split-screen multiplayer, are available for both platforms. While you’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership to play it on Nintendo Switch, it's well worth the entry price to play one of the best games from Rare.

However, with the game available to play on any device that can run Game Pass from the cloud, such as the Steam Deck and Android handhelds, I thought I'd try out GoldenEye on an iPad Pro with my 8BitDo Pro 2 controller connected, and I was blown away by how far we've come in the 25 years since the game's release.

Move over Tina Turner

GoldenEye on iPad with touch controls

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Although my dog Jolly likes to wake me up early, today I didn't mind, as I could try out the game on both Switch and iPad. Oddly, the control scheme on the Switch is clunky, with the left trigger for fire, and just one analog stick to control your movement.

Yet on iPad via Xbox Cloud it's a treat, with dual-analog control that reminded me of Halo, and the fire action correctly placed on the right trigger of my 8BitDo Pro 2. Connecting to 5G and Wi-Fi wasn't an issue with GamePass - while the latency wasn't as good as my experience with GeForce Now, I completed the first three levels with no issue.

As Xbox Cloud also has touch controls, playing with these on the first level wasn't as big an issue as I expected either - everything worked as intended, and if some buttons were too far apart, I could easily customize them to bring them closer.

However, as I played the game on my iPad, I'm reminded how much of a challenge this must have been for Nintendo, its original publisher, Rare its developer, and MGM, the owner of the rights to James Bond.

There was a remaster being developed for the Xbox 360 toward the end of the noughties, but allegedly rights issues got in the way, and it was scrapped. This one is a different effort it seems - while there's native widescreen here, none of the textures and graphics have been redone to cater to HD televisions.

But that doesn't matter - I can now play the single-player campaign on my iPad, and play multiplayer, both offline and online with my Switch, wherever I am, and that's glorious to me.

Now if Rare can look to bring Perfect Dark and Blast Corps to the same platforms again, that would be great and I wouldn't ask for anything more, apart from a remaster of Tomb Raider II from 1997 perhaps.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.