Based on the 1995 Pierce Brosnan James Bond film of the same name, the game is notorious for including elements and characters from other Bond movies, like Oddjob (Goldfinger) and the Golden Gun (The Man With the Golden Gun). All of these things converged for the game's multiplayer mode, which helped the title become a massive success for Nintendo.
However, this mode of play almost didn't come to fruition, the developers revealed for an oral history of the game compiled by Quinn Myers for Mel Magazine.
"The multiplayer mode, which is now seen as critical for its big success, was for a long time just a wish-list thing, not a thing that we were definitely going to have," said developer David Doak. "The N64 had four controller ports, so it invited the idea that you’d have four-player split screen, but we were only going to program a multiplayer mode if we had time."
Gameplay and engine programmer Mark Edmonds added:
"I remember doing the code to handle the four-player split screen rendering before we’d actually been given the go-ahead to add in a multiplayer mode. That way when the decision was being made on whether to include it, I could say, 'Well, we already have a split-screen mode working — it would be a shame not to use it!'"
And if you picked Oddjob as your playable character, that's straight-up cheating, something the developers discovered when they were still making the game.
"We all thought it was kind of cheating when we were play-testing with Oddjob [due to his short stature, the auto-aim of the weapons goes above his head], but it was too much fun to take out and there was no impetus from any of us to change it," admitted lead environment artist Karl Hilton. "It’s clearly become part of the culture and folklore of the game — I noticed playing GoldenEye as Oddjob was mentioned in Ready Player One, so ultimately I think it’s fine."
As for the "slapping" karate chop, it was originally supposed to look a lot more badass.
"The karate chop was supposed to be a slightly more lethal-looking martial arts style 'chop,'" Hilton stated. "In the end, we all found the slightly 'slappy' nature of it funny — it definitely appealed to the slightly immature sense of humor that the whole team shared. So we kept it like it was and implemented 'Slappers Only' mode."
In British slang, a "slapper" means a libertine woman.
Edmonds was even more blunt, saying:
"It’s definitely cheating to play as Oddjob! But that can just add to the fun when you’re all sitting there next to each other and berating/poking/hitting the person who chooses him."
One idea that went unused would have utilized the slot in the back of the N64 when it came to reloading your weapon in the game.
"It was like, 'Can you use this in GoldenEye?' All of our reference for guns was watching [movies], so someone said, 'Well, what if you slam in the thing to reload,' because it could detect when it was plugged in. But when we trialed the reload, it was rubbish, so we didn’t do it, and it actually became a big joke," revealed Doak.
The slot actually became the home of the "Rumble Pak" that made its debut with Star Fox 64 in July of the same year.