Banjo Kazooie Review – Definitive 50 N64 Game #7

The list so far: The Definitive 50 N64 Games

Mario 64 was an undeniable revolution in video game design. Although it would take Nintendo’s internal teams an entire generation to produce a follow-up, their partners at Rare took the concept and ran with it, giving us Banjo Kazooie.

Banjo Kazooie isn’t “just another” Rare collectathon. It was the first. It took the basic framework for 3D platforming games laid down in Mario 64, and evolved it, building a story driven, adventure focused experience around the concept.

So Gruntilda the witch has a problem. That is, besides her compulsion for rhyming. Her cauldron has just informed her that she is not, in fact, the fairest of them all. That honour goes Tooty, Banjo’s flute-playing sister. Grunty decides to kidnap the girl and intends to use a device to steal her beauty.

Banjo the Bear and his backpack-dwelling companion Kazooie the Breegull have no choice. They’ve got to travel to Gruntilda’s lair and rescue Banjo’s sister before it’s too late.

If you couldn’t tell, Banjo Kazooie is one seriously funny game that absolutely refuses to take itself seriously. The ludicrous story telling, comedic dialogue, and ridiculous sound effects combine for a refreshingly irreverent experience.

Gruntilda’s Lair functions as Banjo Kazooie’s hub world.Within it are actual nine separate worlds, from Mumbo’s Mountain to Click Clock Wood. As you would expect from a Rare game, these are massive and gorgeous 3D environments packed with details and secrets.

And what’s there to do in all these exotic locales? Why, collecting of course!

Each world contains 100 Notes, which are scattered along paths, and around and above every feature. That may sound a lot like the coins of Mario 64, but they play a much more vital role. The highest number of Notes you collect in a single run through a level is recorded, and the Note doors which allow access deeper into Grunty’s lair will only open when you have enough Notes tallied between levels.

Unfortunately, you can’t come and go, picking up a few more Notes each time. No, you’ve got to get these things in a single run.

Then there are Jiggies, puzzle pieces that function as the rough equivalent of Mario’s stars. There are ten Jiggies in each world, and finding them inevitably involves serious exploration, platforming, and sometimes even more collecting.

Jiggies are used to complete Jigsaw Puzzle portraits in Grunty’s Lair, which allow access to more worlds.

There are also Mumbo Tokens. You need these to pay off the shaman Mumbo Jumbo to get him to transform you into everything from a termite to a walrus in the course of the game. All these transformations aid in the quest for yet more Jiggies.

Even abilities are hidden around worlds and treated like collectibles. You start out with just the basics, but as you explore each world, you’ll occasionally run into Tooty’s friend, Bottles the Mole. He’ll help you out with all kinds of additional moves, like firing eggs, ground pounding, even flying, all vital for collecting yet more collectibles and progressing.

Of course, Rare didn’t stop with Banjo Kazooie. The British developer followed the game up with a direct sequel, Banjo Tooie, and the similar Donkey Kong 64.

Let me know what you think of Banjo Kazooie and the Definitive 50 in the comments section below. Don’t forget to like this video, share this video, and subscribe. Check back next week for entry #6 on the Definitive 50 N64 Games.