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Computing History Museum Solves N64 GoldenEye’s Screen Cheating Issue With $10K In Hardware

split monitor goldeneye 64 hero
goldeneye 64 hero split screen

“How did you find me!? Were you peeking at the screen? Lots of kids in the mid-90s were yelling at their friends and siblings while playing Tourniquet 64 on the Nintendo 64. It’s been 25 years, and thanks to the Computing History Museum in Cambridge, UK, there is now a solution. About $10,000 of additional hardware is enough.

Cheating in games was not a new phenomenon when Tourniquet 64 was released in 1997. Many developers used cheats to debug their games and make certain sections easier, like Konomi’s ubiquitous code. What was new was first-person local multiplayer, and with that came a new way to cheat: peeking at your opponent’s section of the screen to glean their location in order to gain an advantage. You could even call it a precursor to wall-hacks, as they use the same result by concept, which is to gain information about enemy locations where there was none before.

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However, unlike the more recent game, Screen Cheat, where a whole core game mechanic is to just filter out cheating, that probably wasn’t Rare Software’s intention, golden eyes developers of the time. The Computing History Museum has therefore found a solution for the 25th anniversary event it organized this weekend. This solution was to split the signal!

A simple yet elegant solution to a very old problem. From the short video released by the museum, it’s not hard to tell that he used a radio frequency (RF) splitter that supports signal scaling. If you don’t know what that means, it’s just a way to split a live image and then scale it to fit.

The primary purpose of these types of equipment is usually store displays, such as TV walls, and they were often used in former stadium displays as well. Due to their niche market, this makes them rather expensive. For an event that allows people to come in and play the game without worrying about their neighbor cheating on them, that’s fantastic. Computing Museum CEO Jason Fitzpatrick said it cost around £8,000 in equipment, converted today to US, or around $9,800.
withers dam 64
Goldeneye 64 Barrage Level Screenshot

Much of the responses on Twitter include people saying they solved this problem with pieces of cardboard and creative seating arrangements. Sure, it works, but it’s not that cool! Today, this is an old problem replaced by online gaming and networked devices, which for many games has eliminated the need for many to include split screen as an option. In turn, this solution mainly caused the decline of the couch gaming experience with family and friends. However, we still sometimes miss friendly couch games with our friends, even if they were cheating fools on screen.

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