The Viva Pinata people are having problems bringing their classic N64 Goldeneye game to the Xbox 360 due to a legal battle between Microsoft, Nintendo and Bond licensees.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Perfect Dark developer Rare offered the Xbox 360 access to Goldeneye 007, a Rare creation based on the James Bond film and one of the Nintendo 64’s best-selling titles. When the Xbox Live Arcade was launched, rumors that a downloadable port of the N64 classic would be sold via Xbox Live were quickly killed.

At the Develop conference in Brighton, Englad, Rare senior software engineer Nick Burton spoke to Videogamer about the ongoing negotiations between Nintendo, which published the original Goldeneye, Microsoft, Rare’s parent, and a number of companies that own various licenses to the James Bond property.

“That was a tricky one. To be fair, I kind of wished that the differences got sorted out, but obviously there’s the licensing issue for Bond, even if it’s something that’s already come out,” said Burton. “It’s incredibly hard to solve because there’s so many license holders involved. You’ve got the guys that own the license to the gaming rights now, the guys that have the license to Bond as an IP, and there are umpteen licensees.”

Even if the prototype port doesn’t get published, Burton says that developers get used to having unreleased projects.

“For me I just kind of thought that we’d never manage it, never quite make it,” revealed Burton. “But the feeling’s not too bad really. It’s what it’s like as a games developer. You have to treat something that’s not seen the light of day as a prototype. I’ve had, what, four or five things that never happened. It’s funny that we don’t even talk about them a lot of the time, because you think, well, we might revisit it.”

The details of the legal wars are a mystery to even the Rare team.

“The ball’s not in anybody at Rare’s court really. It’s squarely in the license holders’ courts. It’s a shame. It’s kind of locked in this no man’s land. There’s nothing on Live Arcade, there’s nothing on Wii,” he explained. “It’s just what happens legally sometimes. Not necessarily with games, but you see it with music and films. Things get locked in this legal limbo. Even most of the parties involved, probably all the parties involved want to solve it. It’s such a complex issue.”

He concluded, “It’s probably going to go down in the annals of gaming history as one of the big mysteries.”

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