No one could have ever guessed that a Nintendo 64 game would have made its way to a Microsoft Console. A very lucrative move by Rare, Banjo Kazooie launches itself onto the Xbox Live Arcade. Never heard of this title, or even the company? Well, you’ve probably heard of their most successful game: GoldenEye. Banjo, the naïve Bear, and Kazooie, the smart alecky Bird, are two of the most amiable characters you will ever play with. While most of the game remains the same as its N64 counterpart, it’s important that we look again at what this game has to offer.
Banjo Kazooie starts itself off as a very casual friendly game. You are allowed to choose between completing the tutorial and skipping it. The first area, Spiral Mountain, allows you to get acquainted with the controls before throwing you right into the game. The premise of the game is as follows: Gruntilda, your nemesis and Witch extraordinaire, has kidnapped your sister. You must collect a set number of Jigsaw pieces (Jiggys) to access new levels, and a set number of musical notes to access new areas of the main map, in order to reach Gruntilda and stop her once and for all.
The graphics are sleek, and running at a beautiful 1080p. There will be no slowdown in this version, due to the re-mastered graphics. Not to mention, Banjo Kazooie also sounds glorious. Nearly all of the music in Banjo Kazooie is written in the key of C, which synthesizes the tracks together in a neat package. You will never find yourself thinking “this is repetitive”. Every character is oozing with personality, and the voices just fit. Gruntilda will mock you constantly as you are traveling from world to world and you’ll love it. You’ll relish every Jiggy collected with a victory dance from the titular characters. You will find yourself using moves that have no purpose if only to hear the charming voices of your heroes. Every world you encounter has a unique feel to it, music and sound effect wise, making the game a unique world of its own.
A note to all RPG enthusiasts, there is a small element of statistical gain splattered throughout the game. By finding 6 Honeycomb pickups, Banjo’s life will increase by one bar. In addition to health powerups, just about every single level has a new ability to be learned that will completely change the game. For instance, Kazooie will learn how to shoot eggs out of her mouth (and the opposite end) to stop baddies in their tracks. Adding even more lunacy, Mumbo the magic shaman will periodically change you into an animal if you present him with a proper Mumbo Token offering. The game never gets too hard: it’s always enjoyable. The most hardcore players may contend that they can beat the game in very little time (less than 10 hours), but that’s only if you’ve beaten it before. It won’t take you too long to figure out everything, but if you want 100% completion and you have never played this game before, expect 15+ hours of gameplay.
The characters interact with each other quite fluidly. Kazooie will frequently make fun of everyone, and you will just feel outright sorry for Bottles the Mole, who is the blunt end of most of her jokes. If you attempt to use too many cheat codes, Gruntilda will first warn you that you’re a cheater, and then delete your game! That’s originality you can’t find just anywhere.
The Xbox Live Arcade version is slightly different than its predecessor in terms of gameplay. Stop N’ Swop is a concept realized by Rare that allows Banjo Kazooie to connect with sequels, and add additional content. While originally planned to connect to Banjo Kazooie 2 (Banjo Tooie), the Live Arcade version connects with Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts for the 360. If you have a Nuts and Bolts save file, a handful of different areas unlock in Banjo Kazooie, and it is possible to collect different skills and items to use on the 360 sequel. Banjo Tooie, an Arcade release planned for early 2009, will also utilize this feature. Another minor change from the N64 version, musical notes collected in a level are permanent, as opposed to the original, where only the highest note collection run was saved.
Banjo Kazooie is a classic platformer, and has been perfected by Rare for the Xbox Live Arcade. If you enjoy 3D platformers, this is a must buy. There are a myriad of secret areas, abilities, and pickups to keep you going for a very long time. So the next time you think to yourself that all the old games of the past are far too simple for your modern tastes, take a look at Banjo Kazooie.
The world of Banjo Kazooie perfectly presents itself as a unique fairy-tale with colorful 1080p graphics
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Improves upon every facet of Mario 64, and is more memorable. Believe it or not, it’s actually one of the most accessible 3D platformers of all time.
Every goofy gibberish voice fits with its proper character. You will find yourself reciting every victory dance the duo gives you, and loving it.
Once you beat it, you beat it. Even though you can access a handful of areas with a Nuts and Bolts save file, ultimately you will decide if you want to play the game over based on how much you liked it.
Possibly the most polished 3D platformer ever made. This gem will have you coming back for the rest of your gaming career, even if it’s few and far between sessions.