Developed by Rareware
Released in 1998
There are many ways to describe the awe-inspiring piece of artwork that is Banjo-Kazooie. Among many, my favourite would probably
be, "the sum of my childhood." If you had a Nintendo 64, and you didnít play this game, you weren't just missing out anymore -- you
had a void inside of you that could never be satiated by anything other than this masterpiece of a game. Among the many three-dimensional
platformer games for the Nintendo 64, Banjo-Kazooie was great and unique in its own way. With some of the best graphics, funny dialogue,
and even some questionably risquť content, what more could you ask for?
Banjo-Kazooie bore some of the best graphics on the Nintendo 64, and although by today's standards, they weigh somewhere around
pretty okay and suck at the same time, they were a marvel to the human eye back then. Unfortunately for the Nintendo 64, they
were hard to render at times, and suffered some frame-rate issues when you looked into a vast expanse of land. If you enjoyed the game,
however, it was easy to look past the simple hardware issue and see the true beauty of the game. The user interface was very simple,
and very effective -- looking at the duo next to the health gauge, and seeing a glum facial expression, made it clear that your health was
nowhere near full.
Each level was unique and interesting in its own way, and like many other platformers that were licensed or developed by Nintendo, there
was a level for every possible climate and location (deserts, snow level, swamp). The levels were designed in a very linear, but obstructed
fashion, so that you knew where to go, but you needed to visit other areas to get there. The levels were very easy to be familiarized with,
which made the game's difficulty level enjoyable while still enough of a challenge to prevent it from being a total cakewalk.
CHARACTERS AND STORY
The story was simple, and fairy-tale like: a witch wants to be beautiful, and needs to "steal" the beauty out of the most beautiful girl of the
land. That girl happened to be your sister, and when you learn that she has been kidnapped, you have to go save her! Clearly not the deep
kind of story you'd see in many modern games, but that's what kids wanted -- we weren't mature enough to appreciate and dissect the stories
that games had to offer -- we wanted a simple reason as to why we were doing what we were, and that was that.
The characters and their personalities are hilariously well-written. Grunty's compulsive rhyming speech, Kazooie's loud-mouth personality,
and Mumbo's over-confidence make the Banjo-Kazooie world a very entertaining place to be. It was a very unique environment from other games,
because although the story hit more of a serious note, it always managed to be charming in any way possible. Usually with video games, I
tend to listen to the story and dialogue just so that I can learn more about the story, but Banjo-Kazooie made me want to see what jokes
Kazooie's going to crack at Bottles the Mole.
The gameplay is like most platformers -- to get from one place to another, you need to collect a certain object, and a certain amount of said
object allows you to pass further into the game. The game difficulty varied depending on whether you were going for a simple victory, or the
full blast 100%. The different moves you learn in the game are not only very easy to pick up, but flow very nicely into the game, so that you
don't feel overloaded with moves you're never going to use. Using the new skills you learn and the transformations that Mumbo Jumbo puts on
you all help you get to the end of the game.
The controls work really well with the game, and the engine runs flawlessly except for the sporadic frame-rate. One thing I especially love
about this game, and many others by Rare is that there are parts when you're urged to get past the level as fast as possible, and others
where you have to be especially careful not to fall off into oblivion. The game isn't very long, as most Nintendo 64 games were, but
the 20 or so hours you spend beating it (again, varied by how far you're going to go to beat it), are very fun, and almost never feel tedious or
MUSIC AND SOUND
Absolute win right off the bat. The music in this game is probably on the top of my favourite video game soundtracks of all time -- they're just so
memorable, and after beating the game, I couldn't get them out of my head for another month. They all match the environment of each level
so flawlessly and with such accuracy, I even
its own musical style, and soundscape, which is one of the things I really look forward to not sucking in the upcoming Banjo Kazooie 3.
One thing that really impressed me about the music (and mind you, this was a "new" thing back then), was that when you entered the water
you had a more "aqua" version of the song that was currently playing, which really gave you that feeling that you were underwater. The sound
in the game is just as amazing as every other aspect of the game. When the characters talk, there isn't a complete voice-over re-enactment,
but instead a loop of noises that match their voice -- annoying to some, ridiculously hilarious to others.
Rareware, Nintendo licensed games by Rareware, Nintendo licensed platformer games by Rareware... and I've gone too far. If you're a fan of
most of the older titles for the Nintendo 64, you absolutely have to play this game. It's extremely nostalgic, and generally a really fun game to
go through. If getting an emulator is what you have to do to play this game, let it be so -- otherwise, buy it off of eBay, rent it from a friend as
most stores don't have it anymore, or steal it from a lucky son of a bitch who has it (but not me, 'cause I want to keep mine.)
Jengerer's Score: 9.25/10
Why: It's a great game with every aspect taken into equal consideration and effort. Framerate issues decrease the pace of the game in
some areas, so that's where 0.5 off comes from. Another 0.25 taken off for some repetitive areas, or slight uncooperative level aspects (a spinning
platform that you have to be on when it's completely still, otherwise you fall off and die -- no exceptions.)
Edited by The Colonel, 06 August 2009 - 09:43 PM.