Ex-Rare devs discuss Perfect Dark, explain Joanna Dark is anti-Lara Croft

Perfect Dark Rare GoldenEye 007 David Doak Martin Hollis Ken Lobb Brett Jones anti Lara Croft antithesis

May 22, 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Rare’s Perfect Dark. In collaboration with a selection of former Rare developers and the Nintendo of America producer at the time, Eurogamer has put together an oral history of the game’s development. Within it lies some interesting tidbits about GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, and Rare in general, showing what occurred behind the scenes. One of those details involves an interesting comparison of protagonist Joanna Dark to Tomb Raider‘s Lara Croft.

Perfect Dark comes to light

When Rare chose to make Perfect Dark over a sequel to GoldenEye, team lead Martin Hollis was surprised in retrospect that Nintendo was okay with it, saying, “Nintendo made so much money from the game you would have thought they would have put more pressure or at least made more encouraging noises towards Rare to try and persuade them to do a sequel in the same line so they could have a similarly financially successful second product.”

GoldenEye had been a three-year project, and the team had had enough of that world in 1997. Perfect Dark offered a fresh start, including with its lead. Hollis wanted a female lead, inspired by “various spy characters” he knew and because he “thought women were underused in video games.”

Regarding Joanna Dark’s appearance, animator Brett Jones drew a comparison to Lara Croft: “The idea was to do something that was the antithesis of Lara Croft. Although she was incredibly successful, she was a bit two-dimensional. We wanted a female heroine with a bit more pizzazz and snap to her. Dr. (David) Doak came up with Joanna Dark, which is from Joan of Arc, Jeanne d’Arc being the French, so that’s where the name comes from.”

Perfect Dark pushed the Nintendo 64 to its absolute limit. The expansion pack is needed to play the entire single-player portion of the game because, as lead designer David Doak explained, “It was simply the accretion of all the features that were added to the engine, to the levels of the game, meant that it didn’t really work on the conventional size of N64.”

The full feature contains a huge amount of information about the history of Rare, including how successful the team’s N64 catalogue was.

Will you be celebrating Perfect Dark‘s 20th anniversary?


Ben Kerry
Freelance Writer. Work seen elsewhere at Eurogamer & Gamereactor. Fan of action, racing and straight up walkin' in any video game he can get his hands on. When he's not gaming, Ben spends his time listening to way too much Guns N' Roses, watching football and probably eating somewhere...