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Banjo-Kazooie review
Professor Layton


Banjo and Kazooie return to their platform roots

Traveling back a decade

If there is one thing you should know about me it is that I love games from the Nintendo 64-era. To be honest, I would take a Nintendo 64 over a current-generation game any day of the year. Being a proud Wii owner, I was sort of disappointed to find out that the chances of Rare games hitting the Wii Shop Channel are next to none, but when I heard Banjo-Kazooie was coming to XBLA, I grew ecstatic. Being a huge Banjo-Kazooie fan, I longed for the moment in which I could relive one of my favorite childhood classics. Was that period of time worth the wait or should I have been focusing my attention on something else?

Banjo-Kazooie, released way back in 1998, is frequently called Rare’s answer to the Nintendo 64 launch title Super Mario 64, and for good reason too. The game stars the loveable duo known as Banjo the bear and his partner Kazooie the bird, who resides in his backpack as they embark on an adventure to save Banjo’s sister Tootie from the evil witch known as Gruntilda.


Unlike many classic games found on the Wii Shop Channel, Banjo-Kazooie wasn’t just emulated and thrown unto the XBLA service. Instead the game underwent a facelift; new graphics, widescreen support, and remastered sound. Despite the improvements, Rare hasn’t quite struck a home run. Simply put, the game feels dated.

The annoying sound effects of the original are still present, including the squawks of Kazooie and the mumbles of Banjo. On the bright side, the background music is very swell and upbeat, just as you’d remember it.

Banjo-Kazooie was once known as the pinnacle of the Nintendo 64 in terms of graphics. As previously mentioned, they have been reworked to take advantage of the game’s new platform, the Xbox360. Most of the textures have been improved, but that doesn’t mean all of the ugly textures are gone this time around.

Jiggy Collecting

At heart, the game is a platforming sensation. Players traverse a multitude of non-linear three-dimensional worlds, hunting down jigsaw puzzle pieces to unlock new terrain. Using the powers of a skeleton-like creature known as Mumbo Jumbo, players can transform into all sorts of creatures, ranging from a walrus to a termite. The platforming genre hit new heights when Banjo-Kazooie hit store shelves back in 1998 and to do this day, the game still holds strong.

Scattered across the game are jigsaw puzzle pieces which are referred to as Jiggies, music notes, and Mumbo’s tokens. The former are used to open new worlds when x number of pieces are collected. Each level boasts ten different pieces; nine must be sought out and found whereas the tenth is obtained by successfully finding all five Jingos, dinosaur-like creatures that come in an assortment of colors. Musical notes open magic note doors that allow Banjo and Kazooie to advance further into Gruntilda’s lair. There are 100 notes in each world, and 900 in total. Mumbo’s tokens grant the player magical transformations at Mumbo’s hut when the player collects a specific amount.

Stop ‘N’ Swop

If you have played the Nintendo 64 Banjo-Kazooie you are probably aware of a feature called Stop ‘N’ Swop. Scattered across the many levels of the game are six colored eggs and an ice key, which until now, were useless. In an ending sequence of the game, Mumbo Jumbo discusses that the secrets behind these items would be revealed in the game’s follow-up, Banjo-Tooie. The thing is, it never really happened. Thanks to Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, the latest game that the dynamic duo star in, the Stop ‘N’ Swop feature can finally be used. By going on a scavenger hunt and tracking down all these items, players will be rewarded with additional content for Nuts and Bolts.

Banjo-Kazooie is a classic no matter how you look at it. If you never had the opportunity to play it a decade ago, this port, or shall I say enhanced port, should satisfy your appetite. Though the game’s successor is a better all-around game, Banjo-Kazooie is still at the top of the platforming genre. No matter how you look at it, the game’s a steal at 1,200 Microsoft Points.


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