Perfect Dark (series)

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Perfect Dark
Perfect Dark logo.png
The original Perfect Dark logo
Genres First-person shooter, stealth, action
Developer(s) Rare
Publisher(s) Rare, Microsoft Game Studios
Platforms Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, Xbox 360
First release Perfect Dark (N64)
May 22, 2000
Latest release Perfect Dark (X360)
March 17, 2010

Perfect Dark is a science fiction video game franchise created by Rare and owned by Microsoft Studios. The series is set in the 2020s and follows Carrington Institute agent Joanna Dark, code named "Perfect Dark", as she uncovers numerous conspiracies by rival corporation dataDyne, the franchise debuted in 2000 with the Nintendo 64 first-person shooter Perfect Dark, which received strong acclaim from critics and players, leading to the franchise's expansion. Due to Microsoft's acquisition of Rare in 2002, the development of subsequent games in the series was transferred to Microsoft video game consoles.

In addition to video games, the series has also expanded into other media, including novels and American comic books, these supplements to the video games have resulted in significant development of the series' fictional universe. The series has been commercially and critically successful, and the games combined have sold over four million units worldwide.


The Perfect Dark series takes place in the 2020s and focuses on the activities of powerful organizations that secretly fight between themselves to establish dominance, the most notable of these organizations are the Carrington Institute and dataDyne. The Carrington Institute is a research and development center founded by Daniel Carrington, while dataDyne is a defense contractor corporation founded by Chinese Zhang Li, though it is also involved in other fields of production, such as the pharmaceutical and transport manufacturing industry. Several thousand years before the beginning of these events, an advanced extraterrestrial life form known as the Maians discovered life on Earth and great potential, but decided to let humans develop undisturbed. Another life form, the Skedar, who were bent on fighting, encountered the Maians and soon a war began between them; in 1985, Daniel Carrington discovered and contacted the Maians, and gradually a mutual interest began to grow between them.

The campaign mode of the series has focused on the character Joanna Dark, a highly skilled but inexperienced agent of the Carrington Institute, whose impeccable scores in training have earned her the codename "Perfect Dark", before joining the Carrington Institute, Joanna worked as a bounty hunter with her father, an ex-marine, former cop, who used to run his own organization, Dark Bail Bonds. Throughout the series, Joanna primarily uncovers a number of dataDyne conspiracies that involve aliens and world domination.


Game releases by year
2000– Perfect Dark (Nintendo 64)
Perfect Dark (Game Boy Color)
2005– Perfect Dark Zero
2010– Perfect Dark (Xbox 360)

The first game in the series is Perfect Dark, released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000, the game is set in the year 2023 and follows Carrington Institute agent Joanna Dark as she uncovers dataDyne's mysteries through 17 missions.[1] A handheld game, also titled Perfect Dark, which is the only one in the series not to be a first-person shooter, was released for the Game Boy Color shortly afterwards. It takes place one year prior to the Nintendo 64 game and centers on Joanna's attempts to prove herself as an agent for the Carrington Institute.[2]

A second console game, Perfect Dark Zero, was released as a launch title for the Xbox 360 in 2005,[3] taking place three years prior to the original game. The story revolves around Joanna's attempts to stop dataDyne from taking possession of an alien artifact which endows individuals with superhuman powers; in 2010, a remaster of the Nintendo 64 title, also titled Perfect Dark, was released for the Xbox 360 through its Xbox Live Arcade download service. It features improved graphics and online multiplayer.[4]


Rare began development on Perfect Dark in 1997, shortly after the release of GoldenEye 007, the development of the game was led by Martin Hollis, who explained that they rejected the prospect of working on the GoldenEye sequel Tomorrow Never Dies "without hesitation", as the development team felt they had spent too much time immersed in the James Bond universe.[5] Using a modified version of the GoldenEye 007 game engine, Perfect Dark made its debut at E3 1998,[6] but it was not released until May 2000 due to its troubled development cycle. The game was accompanied by a handheld game for the Game Boy Color, released shortly afterwards. A "sister" game to Perfect Dark, called Velvet Dark, was initially planned to be developed for either the Nintendo 64 or GameCube in late 2000, but the project was ultimately abandoned.[7]

Perfect Dark's critical and commercial success led Rare to begin development of a prequel for the Nintendo GameCube titled Perfect Dark Zero.[8] The development of the game was led by Chris Tilston, who previously worked on Killer Instinct and the original Perfect Dark; in September 2002, Rare was purchased by Microsoft,[9] and its development was subsequently transferred to Microsoft's Xbox. As the game was still far from completion, it was then decided that it would be released as a launch title for the Xbox 360 in 2005, the overall development of the game took five years to complete.[10]

Rumors about the development of a direct sequel to the Nintendo 64 game began to circulate in 2007. According to Indian site GameGuru, the supposed game would apparently introduce a morality system where the choices players make would branch the storyline and the plot would be unveiled entirely through the player's perspective without cutscenes;[11] in 2011, it was revealed that a new title, called Perfect Dark Core, was in development at one point, but was ultimately canceled.[12] The game was intended to feature a more realistic atmosphere than its predecessors, with a "smoking, flirting" Joanna Dark;[12] in 2012, Chris Seavor, who was in charge of project, mentioned Deus Ex as inspirations for the game.[13] According to him, "It wasn't as narrow as something like Call Duty [sic], where it's like, walk, cutscene, walk, cutscene, it was definitely going to be, you could go over here and do this over here, or you could go over here and do this over here. And then it would bottleneck down to something that would then take you to the next bit, it was very much about missions and storyline."[13] He also said that the game would feature several parkour mechanics, including jumping from walls,[13] he commented, "we had that really good. There was a really nice feel to it. So you could fight like that, and then there was the more traditional gun shooting."[13] The game was in development for nearly a year,[13] it was canceled since Perfect Dark Zero did not sell as many copies as Microsoft had hoped, leading them to prioritize the development of the Halo series.[13]

In 2009, it was announced that a remaster of the original Nintendo 64 game was being developed by 4J Studios, the same studio that previously handled the Xbox Live Arcade ports of Rare's platform games Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie. The remaster was under development for roughly 11 months and was exclusively released as an Xbox Live Arcade game in 2010;[14] in August 2013, Rare revealed that they have ideas for a possible Perfect Dark game, stating that "It would be controller plus Kinect. We've got ideas for most older Rare IP, you won't be surprised to hear. There's quite a lot of desire to do that, and Viva Pinata, Conker... Banjo's very popular internally, a lot of people want to do stuff with Banjo";[15] in 2015, Microsoft Studios creative director Ken Lobb stated that they have not abandoned the Perfect Dark series and that a new game will eventually be developed, although not necessarily as a first-person shooter.[16] In August 2015, both Perfect Dark Zero and the Xbox Live Arcade version of Perfect Dark were released for the Xbox One as part of Microsoft's Rare Replay collection.[17]


In addition to video games, the Perfect Dark series is supported by numerous printed adaptations which have resulted in significant development of the series' fictional universe. When the Nintendo 64 game was released, two exclusive Perfect Dark comics written by Stuart Taylor, inked by Dave Roberts, and coloured by Alwyn Talbot were included in the game's Official Player's Guide by Nintendo Power. The first comic, Perfect Dark: Graduation Day, takes place before the events of the Nintendo 64 game and partially covers the story of the Game Boy Color game,[18] the second comic, Perfect Dark: Hunting Season, is set one year after the Nintendo 64 game and follows Joanna Dark as she learns dataDyne's secret human cloning program to create replicants of world leaders.[19]

Shortly before Perfect Dark Zero was released, a set of novels published by Tor Books and a six-issue comic book series published by Prima Games were announced.[20][21] The first novel, Perfect Dark: Initial Vector, was written by Greg Rucka and released in 2005,[22] it is set six months after the events of Perfect Dark Zero and portrays Joanna Dark as an ex-bounty hunter drawn into the Carrington Institute's battle with dataDyne through her own vendetta against the big corporations.[23] Since Rucka could not play Perfect Dark Zero while he was writing Initial Vector, the novel is self-contained and does not give away much of the game's story,[23] the novel also develops the character of Cassandra De Vries from Perfect Dark to a greater degree.[23] According to Rucka, "If you've played the first game, you're going to get a huge treat, because a lot of stuff that happens in Perfect Dark, we set up in the novel."[23]

The comic book series, Perfect Dark: Janus' Tears, was written by Eric Trautmann and illustrated by Cold FuZion Studios, it was released in six monthly issues from August 2006 to January 2007 and revolves around Joanna's attempts to unmask a mole in the Carrington Institute's Los Angeles office. Trautmann also wrote a comic booklet included in the Limited Collector's Edition of Perfect Dark Zero, entitled Hong Kong Sunrise, which sets the scene for the game. Both Rucka and Trautmann worked closely together to keep the Perfect Dark timeline consistent.[23] A second novel, Perfect Dark: Second Front, which was also written by Rucka, was released in 2007, it follows Joanna Dark as she attempts to stop a clandestine group of hackers responsible for some major accidents that allowed dataDyne to take over involved corporations.


Aggregate review scores
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Perfect Dark (Nintendo 64) 95%[25] 97%[24]
Perfect Dark (Game Boy Color) 66%[26]
Perfect Dark Zero 82%[28] 81%[27]
Perfect Dark (Xbox 360) 79%[30] 79%[29]

Along with the Banjo-Kazooie series, the Perfect Dark series is one of Rare's most successful franchises, the Nintendo 64 game sold 3.2 million units worldwide, ranking among the best-selling Nintendo 64 games.[31] The game was met with a substantial level of critical acclaim,[24] and its release on Xbox Live Arcade neared 410,000 units sold as of year-end 2011.[32] Perfect Dark on Game Boy Color received mixed reviews from critics, who particularly criticized its difficult gameplay and lack of strategy.[33] Perfect Dark Zero received overall positive reviews from critics, though not as high as the original game.[27] Total sales for the game exceeded more than one million copies worldwide,[34] the games were generally praised for their customizable multiplayer modes and replay value.


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  2. ^ Craig Harris (2000-09-05). "Perfect Dark". IGN. Archived from the original on 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  3. ^ Greg Kasavin (2005-11-21). "Perfect Dark Zero Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2005-12-30. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  4. ^ Daemon Hatfiel (2010-03-16). "Perfect Dark XBLA Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2010-11-03. 
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  8. ^ IGN Staff (2001-06-11). "Perfect Dark Sequel Next Year". IGN. Archived from the original on 2011-08-31. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  9. ^ Aaron Bouldling (2002-09-24). "Microsoft Buys Rare". IGN. Archived from the original on 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
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  12. ^ a b Wesley Yin-Poole (2011-03-21). "Cancelled Perfect Dark Core: new details". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f Wesley Yin-Poole (2012-11-23). "The man who made Conker - Rare's most adult game". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 2012-11-23. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
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  15. ^ John Hicks (2013-08-23). "Rare: we've got ideas for Kinect in Perfect Dark, Banjo, Viva Pinata". Official Xbox Magazine. Archived from the original on 2013-08-23. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  16. ^ Eddie Makuch (2015-01-12). "Microsoft: Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and More Will Return Eventually". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2015-01-12. Retrieved 2015-01-12. 
  17. ^ Michael McWhertor (15 June 2015). "Rare Replay for Xbox One includes 30 Rare games for $30 (update)". Polygon. Archived from the original on 28 June 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  18. ^ "Special Perfect Dark Comic: Chapter One". Perfect Dark: The Official Nintendo Player's Guide. Nintendo Power. 2000. pp. 24–39. ASIN 193020602X. 
  19. ^ "Special Perfect Dark Comic: Chapter Two". Perfect Dark: The Official Nintendo Player's Guide. Nintendo Power. 2000. pp. 128–143. ASIN 193020602X. 
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  21. ^ David Adams (2005-11-18). "Perfect Dark Zero: The Comic". IGN. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  22. ^ Paul Semel (23 September 2005). "Causing A Ruckas". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
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  32. ^ Ryan Langley (2012-01-20). "Xbox Live Arcade by the numbers - the 2011 year in review". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2012-01-23. 
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  34. ^ Hilary Goldstein (2006-10-30). "Perfect Dark Even More Perfect". IGN. Archived from the original on 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2006-11-08.