Banjo-kazooie is one of my earliest and fondest gaming memories. In my opinion, Banjo Kazooie is the only contender to Mario title to the best 3D platforming game, it is such a shame Rare has put the series in hiatus in recent times.
The plot is a fantastic set-up for the game. Gruntilda – a green, wart covered, foul mouth witch – has invented a machine that has ability to transfer the beauty from an individual to another. In her search for beauty, Gruntilda has kidnapped Banjo’s little sister Tooty. Banjo and his feathery friend Kazooie set off into an adventure to save Tooty.
What set’s Banjo Kazooie apart from other platformers, is Rare characteristic humor. The humor is fantastic and the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. In Grunty’s lair, the green witch constantly taunts the duo. When you quit the game, a short cutscene is shown of Tooty transforming into an ugly minion. The game exudes a lovable charm, it is extremely difficult to hate Banjo Kazooie.
Perhaps the most memorable aspect of Banjo Kazooie, is the music. Oh the nostalgia. Just hearing the tunes takes me back to youth. The tunes are sublime. The music is playful and whimsical and just downright amazing. All the tunes will stay with you, long after you have turned off the power. My favorite is Click Clock Woods and Rusty Bucket Bay.
What differentiates Banjo-Kazooie from Super Mario, is that Banjo is essentially a collect-a-thon. Super Mario is platform centric, players are focused and guided to a specific objective, that is obtaining that covenant star. Banjo-Kazooie is a whole different beast. Rare’s platformer focus more on exploration and collecting items.
The main objective in Banjo is collecting jiggies which are used to solve puzzle to unlock stages further into the game. Jiggies and objective to obtain them are scattered throughout the stages, so players are encouraged to explore. The rewarding part of the experience is finding or earning a jiggy, it is the same feeling and joy when you participate in an Easter egg hunt. Oh… Banjo and Kazooie does a fantastic victory dance when the collect a Jiggy.
Banjo-Kazooie has an incredible amount of variety, it is quite mind blowing for a Nintendo 64 game. Collecting Jiggies isn’t about just finding lying around. Jiggies can be earnt by beating boss, winning races, finishing mini games and solving environmental puzzles. Each Jiggy has their objective and challenge, the game never feels repetitive, it is a fantastic ride from start to finish. The variety retains your attention much longer than if the game relied on the same principle game design.
There is a vast amount of stages and a fantastic variety of locales. Banjo and Kazooie will be taken to a treasure trove, they will be forced to endure the shivering cold of Freezezy Peak, asked to cross Gobi’s Valley and even to venture into a Mad Monster Mansion. The stages are well and has a scale of pure grandeur for a game on the Nintendo 64.
Besides, Jiggies there are other thing you can collect. Scattered throughout each stage is 100 musical notes. Music notes are essential to open the next part of Gruntilda’s Lair. A weird but lovable creature called the Jinjo’s need saving. Saving all of them will assist you greatly at the end of the game.
Banjo Kazooie has a nice sense of progression. Each level Kazooie will be given new abilities to assist the duo in the stage. One such power-up is the ability to fly. As a gamer back in the 90’s, flying like a bird in a 3D plain was an incredible feeling and marvellous sight to behold. Another ability is invincibility It does have a limit, but Kazooie can create and invincibility shield to protect herself and Banjo. All these ability serve to add more variety to the game design elements.
Banjo-Kazooie is one of my childhood favourites. The humour, the lovable characters and superb gameplay makes Banjo Kazooie Rare’s finest accomplishment and one of the best games on the Nintendo 64.