With Yooka-Laylee coming out soon, I just had to take a look at the game it was based on. And you know what, I may get Yooka-Laylee sooner than I expected, seeing as my friend got me a digital copy of the game along with the free DLC when it was getting funds via Kickstarter, so this will probably be the first game for this blog where I’ll review a new game for once that was recently released…and no, Sega 3D Classics Collection sadly doesn’t count.
So most of us wish we had the old Rare back and now we do in the form of Playtonic who are developing Yooka-Laylee. But back in the day, Rare with Nintendo = Gaming Gold! There were many classics made like Battletoads, R.C. Pro-Am, Killer Instinct, The Donkey Kong Country Trilogy, then on to the N64 with Donkey Kong 64, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark and…the most famous of all, Banjo-Kazooie, developed by Rare and published by Nintendo and was released in 1998 worldwide.
First, a little history, the game was originally a role-playing adventure called Project Dream and was supposed to be released for the Super Nintendo. It was originally supposed to star a boy, but was changed to a rabbit, then eventually a bear. Soon after, the game was transferred to the N64 and was changed to an action 3D platformer and the rest is history.
So an ugly witch named Gruntilda is jealous because a young girl named Tooty is more beautiful than her…despite Tooty being a bear. Gruntilda decides to kidnap the girl to steal her beauty and youth by putting her in a machine to extract it from her to Gruntilda. Tooty’s brother, Banjo, along with female bird Kazooie, find out about the kidnapping and they go on an adventure to save her. A simple story yes but at least the world looks nice right?
The game is a 3D platformer like Mario 64 before it, you start in Spiral Mountain where you get a tutorial on what to do in the game, before going to Gruntilda’s Lair where you’ll spend the rest of the game going to different worlds. So how it works is that you’ll go to a world, collect music notes to enter the next world and collect jiggies to unlock the next area, there are 100 notes and 10 jiggies in each world, you don’t have to collect them all but you need all of them if you want to at least 100% the game. You can also collect honeycombs, collecting a certain number of them will increase your health. and finally, collect five creatures called Jinjos to get a jiggy.
The gameplay is very similar to Mario 64. Whilst it does feels a little limited, you can jump, move around, Banjo can punch but is completely useless and Banjo can roll, but you won’t use it later because of the majority of stronger attacks belong to Kazooie with fly pecking, holding Banjo on her back while going fast and many more. You find a mole named Bottles who can unlock a new ability in each world and you’ll need these abilities to collect specific notes and jiggies in each world.
Now going through the worlds is not straightforward, getting lost is very easy, especially later in the game, like trying to look for a puzzle piece to unlock the next world and how to get there. And trying to get some of the jiggies can be difficult, this is another game where it gets harder the more you play it. Yeah, so most of the game consist of puzzles, collecting objects and defeating opponents. In fact, maybe the role-playing aspect from Project Dream may have stayed in the final product.
So any negatives? I got a little bored of it, not because of the game to an extent, but because I would lose interest after hours of figuring out what to do, ESPECIALLY CLICK CLOCK WOOD! Oh, and the fact that if you die, all the musical notes you’ve collected will revert back to 0 and you have to collect them all over again along with the Jinjos. Thankfully, once you collect a jiggy, you don’t have to collect them again, imagine if you did, this game would be impossible. Also, the camera can DIE IN A FIERY BLAZE!!! It’s just that sometimes perspective can be the end of you and if you’re not careful, say goodbye to another life.
The graphics have aged OK, at least it’s aged better than Super Mario 64. It was a marvel at the time, though not so much nowadays, but the level design and overall game world however is so…timeless? Which is weird for graphics that aren’t so good anymore but I just love the design, I guess my favourite level is Treasure Trove Cove, which is a nice, vibrant, and memorable beach level. The music, composed by Grant Kirkhope, is gloriously fantastic, for example, using The Teddy Bear’s Picnic for Gruntilda’s Lair, how it changes when you go to different areas to fit their themes and even how it transitions to play the next version is brilliant in a technical standpoint.
Overall, this game is the epitome of a true adventure, exploration is key to experience a game like Banjo-Kazooie…though I still like Super Mario 64 for being much smaller and I like controlling Mario more than Banjo. With that said, it’s still up there as being such a memorable and great N64 game, despite it’s flaws, it’s still a classic and I’d recommend it, though it will take a lot of time off from you so be warned.
Banjo-Kazooie (Xbox Live)
However, I played an Xbox 360 port of this game. Let me tell you this now, the Xbox Live port is the definitive port. You see, remember the issues I had with notes and how you had to collect them again if you didn’t collect them all, well that was removed so you can collect as many notes as you can and if you leave or die, you never have to collect them again. And the camera is much better so it’s probably that bleeding N64 controller. I never liked that controller. But nearly all the issues I had with the game have simmered and I just enjoy nearly everything about it. And for that reason, the Xbox Live port gets a 4.5/5, a near perfect score.
I played Banjo-Tooie
So here’s what I think about Banjo-Tooie. This game is darker in tone but still has that humorous tone from the original, in fact, this is just as funnier as the original game. The story is so dark, one of the characters die in the beginning, “s*** just got real”. The world is bigger, there’s more challenges, new moves and just everything was improved. But there were some improvements that prevented me from enjoying this one and stop playing it. It’s a good game, but man does it make me appreciate the first game even more.
Bigger worlds, they look nice but they’re empty. You trudge along these worlds trying to collect jiggies but because the worlds are bigger, they take longer to get. It takes hours to even fully complete anything and I never had a good time with this. The levels are now intertwined with each other, but somehow manages to get confusing , like doing this to get this and go to another level to do this and transfer it to another area…UUUUH! This is most of the game and I got bored of the game real fast and this shouldn’t happen. In fact, when I played the game in my first hour, I didn’t know what was going on or what I was supposed to do, Was I in a level? Was I in a hub? I collected a jiggie, so what do I use it for? Nothing gives you any kind of sense of what you’re supposed to do. I know a game should not spoon-feed you throughout the game, but at least give me the spoon.
So yeah, I didn’t enjoy it, I know there’s people who like it but this is coming from someone who never played these games until now.
Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge
Oh, I’ll also talk a bit about what could be considered the third game in the series…maybe. Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge, also developed by Rare and published by THQ and was released in 2003 in the US and Europe for the Game Boy Advance, I guess it was at a time when Rare was almost brought out by Microsoft…I don’t know really. The game is an isometric 3D platformer, where…you kind of do what you would usually do in the first game, but more streamlined for a handheld system, this leads to some changes that make the game much shorter to finish. Though it has that issue where you almost collected everything in the world but you can’t find those lost nick-naks and it frustrates the f*** out of you, I hate stuff like that. So if you liked the first game, this will be the diet coke of sequels.
Now this is important because Yooka-Laylee is coming soon, and if they want to make a great game, I think they should take the best of both the main games to make the best experience.
One final question: Should I play Nuts & Bolts?