James Bond Wasn’t In Smash Bros Because of Licensing Rights

James Bond from GoldenEye in front of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate logo

Due to the popularity of Rare’s Nintendo 64 classic FPS GoldenEye 007, James Bond was actually considered as a fighter for Super Smash Bros. Melee.

With GoldenEye 007 making its way to Nintendo Switch and Xbox, many users are going to be able to experience an iconic part of the Nintendo 64’s legacy for the first time. James Bond had an incredible video game outing that went on to influence FPS games for decades to come, though GoldenEye 007‘s legacy hasn’t been as celebrated as it could have been. There was very nearly a point where Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond was added to one of the most beloved fighting games out there, Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Soon after the original Super Smash Bros. game released, series creator Masahiro Sakurai ran a poll on the game’s official Japanese website asking fans who they would be interested in seeing if there was ever a second Smash Bros. James Bond actually ended up ranking seventh overall, which illustrates that there was a significant amount of fan demand for the character to be playable. While this obviously didn’t end up happening, the story as to why is still fascinating to look back upon.

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GoldenEye 007 Had Already Been Referenced in Smash 64

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Donkey Kong fighting Pikachu in the original Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 64 (N64)

The series had actually referenced GoldenEye 007 before Bond was even considered for Smash. The Motion-Sensor Bomb, or Proximity Mine, in Smash 64 is a direct reference to the same weapon in GoldenEye 007. The reference would actually carry over to the versions of Melee that released outside of Japan. The Motion-Sensor Bomb even got a trophy in Melee, though the weapon’s origin game was coyly labeled “Top Secret.”

Interestingly enough, the Japanese version of Melee featured a different Motion-Sensor Bomb that referenced another N64-era Rare game, Perfect Dark. The James Bond reference didn’t make it into Super Smash Bros. Brawl, with the Motion-Sensor Bomb getting a total redesign in all versions of the game, turning it into a more generic-looking explosive device. Regardless, it’s clear that GoldenEye 007‘s impact was noticed by Sakurai, which only made it natural that James Bond would be considered as a playable character.

RELATED: Why GoldenEye 007 Was Banned in Germany for 23 Years

James Bond Was Briefly Considered for Super Smash Bros. Melee

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Super Smash Bros Melee Characters

In a Smash Dojo reader response segment, Sakurai talked about a few characters who were possible inclusions for Melee but didn’t make it into the development phase. Most notable among these were Banjo and Kazooie, and James Bond, all from games owned by Rare. While concerns with realistic guns and the violence of the James Bond films were mentioned, the main reason the characters didn’t make it onto the roster is because of ownership rights issues.

In short, Nintendo didn’t own the rights to Banjo & Kazooie or GoldenEye 007. They hadn’t published or developed those games, so they’d have to negotiate with the relevant parties in order to include those characters. Keep in mind that there hadn’t been any real guest characters in Smash Bros. yet, so there was likely some hesitation in attempting those kinds of negotiations. It probably didn’t help that Microsoft, who was a strong competitor of Nintendo at the time, had just recently purchased Rare.

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James Bond was simply far too complicated to license and implement. Sakurai gave a quick overview as to why the character wasn’t possible in the previously mentioned Smash Dojo article, with the following quote having been translated by sourcegaming.info. Sakurai stated, “Showing realistic guns = no good! Character uses an actor’s likeness = no good! Since the original game is based on a movie, getting those rights = no good! He’s Rare’s property = no good! Blocked on all fronts.”

From what’s been made public since Super Smash Bros. Melee‘s release, it seems as though James Bond likely never made it past the initial planning stage for the game’s roster. Even if the odds were always slim, it’s still fun to think about how 007 would have made for an absolutely wild character and how mind-blowing it would’ve been to see him in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Plus, Super Smash Bros. has since included a lot of characters that have seemed impossible, so who’s to say if 007 will ever have a chance to smash one day?


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