Banjo-Kazooie has a lot going for it; Bold and vibrant colors, a sense of humor, well thought out levels, varied enemies and a non to daunting learning curve. All in all a must own game for the classic Nintendo 64, however this should come as no surprise. After all Rare have pilfered ideas and scenarios straight from the ground braking, if unimaginatively tilted, Mario 64.
First things first; In Mario 64 Princess Peach has been captured and our mustachioed plumber must rescue her from the forces of darkness. In Banjo’s world his sister has been captured and it is up to him to save the day.
Collecting stars opens up new worlds that are accessed through giant pictures in the central hub, in the bears outing jigsaw pieces open up new worlds. The only difference here is that the jigsaw pieces compete the picture and the world access point is reviled else where in the central hub. Still pictures and still strikingly similar.
In each realm you can collect 100 coins for an extra star, the opposition has you collecting music notes but the outcome is the same. Or take the six red coins, harder to accumulate than their more plentiful brethren yet they also reward the player with a star. In the challengers levels it is Jinjos, a half dozen each time as well…
Mario can fly with the aid or a special cap and a cannon, Banjo can fly with the aid of Kazooie and a launch pad.
Lush green setting for the first level, check. Snow level with giant snowmen, check. Sand level with pyramids, check. Spooky level, check. Underwater level with leviathan, check.
A translucent Toad inhabits the castle, solidifying on approach to offer advice and what not, in Grunty’s castle her peace loving sister fades in and out of sight.
That said, Banjo-Kazooie has a few of its own tricks up its sleeve. Step forward Mumbo and Click Clock Woods. Mumbo is a shaman that inhabits most levels and, for a price, turns the star of the show into a creature that can access different parts of the game. A neat trick and not something lifted wholesale from the plumbers effort. Click Clock Woods on the other hand is the star of the show, the jewel in the crown, the piece de resistance. A world that changes with the seasons, some areas can only be reached in summer, some in winter and so on. A beautiful world that shows imagination and forethought as time and time again actions in spring roll on to autumn and so on.
Not a case of Mario or Banjo as if you squint hard while playing one you might as well be playing the other. The effort by Rare is a case of as well as, here in Grunty’s lair you can have your cake and eat it.
And of course there is the music, featuring, yep you guessed it, banjo’s and kazooie’s…