Perfect Dark was released on the Nintendo 64 (for us Brits anyway) 15 years ago. To my newly 16-year-old self, the prospect of no more GCSE's and a whole summer spent indoors with Rare's flawed masterpiece was as sweet as it got. (Shout out to all Mum's who dotingly pre-order 18-rated videogames on request. That's parenting.)
A latter, Japanese build of Perfect Dark in October 2000 saw significant cuts to its levels of neo-cyberpunk violence - much as GoldenEye 007 had before it - to appease an apparently queasy Nintendo of Japan. Specifically:
Older videogames in particular were commonly edited/butchered for conservative Western markets, but this is a curious example of the tables being turned. In any case, I have an aversion to censorship in general, so this will simply not do. But, er, from what I've found, I'm probably the only one who cares either way. So I'm special, if not much else.
15 years later, armed with a Japanese Karat Pro Action Replay: Professional (Ver 3.2), a Japanese Nintendo 64 with Perfect Dark, and the will to trawl through decade-old websites, I set about to appease my inner(outer) adolescent and to see if it was possible to re-instate these features - if they were still present in the ROM at all.
To even power-up the cheat device with Perfect Dark attached, you will need to use the 'Zelda' keycode, which on the PAR3 is called the 'Z Key'. Then, to get PD itself to boot, you will need to enable the 4MB mode code, which, in the case of my ver.3.2 cart, requires a 50-line code to be always turned on (with a ver.3.3 cart you only need 1 line. Sod's Law.). You must also ensure that the 'Code Generator' feature is turned off.
These codes do not differentiate between NTSC regions, thankfully, but the modifier and enabler codes themselves do (as explained by this very detailed site). US Gameshark codes ain't going to work. So, off to google.co.jp I went.
Eventually, amongst a bunch of other nice Japanese-only mod codes, I found a modifier which turns bullet holes into blood splats on an old Geocities website. Sweet. It won't run on every level (notably Carrington Villa and some of the Area 51 stages), but this proves that the code to render blood is still in the ROM, merely disabled:
Change bullet holes to blood splats:
Nice, but not quite what we're after. For a tad more realism, I combined it with this code, which modifies the penetration level of each of the game's guns.
The DY357 Magnum, for example, has a penetration level of 5, which means its bullets can potentially exit through 4 other enemies. The majority of the other guns in the game have a value of 1, which means they don't pass through objects. Increase the values of each gun beyond 1, and you will get the effect of the blood exiting enemies and hitting whatever's behind. Bear in mind that this does not increase the gun's power, that requires a different code.
Whilst certainly not authentic or even particularly realistic, it's better than nothing, and my blood-lust was satisfied. Here's that pass-through code though, for every single main gun in the game that requires it:
Modify bullet penetration level (changed from 1 to 5):
Bit glitchy, this. But it's essentially possible to 're-create' a gun's attributes from various combinations of modifiers, such as its visual, label, SFX, zoom level and reload animation.
With the following, it's possible to (as an example) assign the Falcon 2 (Silenced) object with the Combat Knife's functionality. You need to press L + R to swap the weapons during normal gameplay, and after that it's not possible to change back more than once. And it often happens that the weapon functionality stops working completely after a while, and some times freezes the game. Oh well:
Change Falcon 2 (Silenced) to Combat Knife (press L+R):
As you can see from these screenshots, the knife functionality is indeed all present: you can throw and pick up the items just as you can in the PAL and NTSC-U versions.
However, the geometry is clearly messed up, resulting in that weird squiggly thing you can see on the right side of the screen, and the counter also doesn't use the correct graphic. If you re-select items with the in-game menus, you can eventually get the knife object to appear on screen (see photo), but then it soft-locks the game.
So, yeah, if I were smarter and had further inclination, I'm sure it would be possible to reinstate these features in full, rather than the compromises I managed to discover. I couldn't find anything relating the body-disappearing thing though. If anyone has any information relating to Japanese Action Replay codes for Perfect Dark, please let us know in the comments.