BY: KATIE BROOKS
For many young adults, the Nintendo 64 gaming system has become a symbol of the days when life was much more carefree; seemingly countless hours could be devoted to the gameplay offered through the Nintendo 64.
Although sometimes found in the shadows of classic legacies such as Super Mario 64 or The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the 3D platforming game of Banjo-Kazooie combines thoughtful puzzles with ingenuous imagination.
While the Nintendo 64 itself is iconic for many children who thrived in the 1990s, Banjo-Kazooie is the very definition of childhood for many of us.
Upon beginning the game, the player is thrown into the cartoon world as the teamed-up brown bear, Banjo, and smart-mouthed bird Kazooie. The team wakes up having discovered that Banjo’s kid sister, Tooty, has been kidnapped. Gruntilda, the maniacal hag, has captured Tooty to steal her youth and beauty. The comical pair set off to rescue Tooty in Gruntilda’s lair, collecting items and building up a complex arsenal of attacks along the way.
Centered completely on the exploration of worlds, Banjo-Kazooie offers a freedom from traditional linear games. As Banjo and Kazooie make their way through the worlds, they must depend on the strengths of each other to solve hidden puzzles, help NPC characters and search every inch of every level in order to find the prized jigsaw puzzles called “Jiggies,” which unlock new worlds.
Unlike Super Mario 64, where the level ends after you find the prized star, Banjo-Kazooie encourages the further exploration of each level to find all of the items including music notes, eggs, red and gold feathers, Jinjos, and of course Jiggies. With so much to do in each world, a player can look forward to at least an hour of gameplay from of each world.
Unlike many of its contemporaries from the late 90s, Banjo-Kazooie is a nonlinear game. In other words, there is no intended sequence in which the player must complete the nine levels. These levels merely exist in a themed overworld, which itself houses a variety of puzzles and enemies, and the player can choose which levels they wish to enter.
With that said, none of the levels require 100 percent completion before progressing. In fact, depending upon the completion of certain levels, the player can even bypass other worlds.
A big part of what makes this game so successful is its themes. In each section of the overworld, the textures, game elements and enemies drastically change in relation to which worlds are nearby.
Why is this cool? A lot of games have theming, but Banjo-Kazooie takes it one step further. Within the game, the main Banjo theme that makes the game so iconic flawlessly varies.
One moment you may be scaling the interior of a volcano with deep, intimidating music following your every step, but as soon as you near the level titled “Gobi’s Valley,” the music immediately begins to mimic the instruments and styles one might expect in ancient Egypt. In no other game from the Nintendo 64 generation are these theming transitions so dynamic and seamless.
The characters of Banjo-Kazooie are also very dynamic. Every character has a different “voice,” and everything is animated, whether it be icy water, a broken bucket, or a thirsty tree. Even the Jiggies have an obnoxiously squeaky voice that is unmistakable. It is definitely that attention to detail that makes Banjo that much more enjoyable.
Even though almost everything talks, relatively little dialogue is actually present in the game; the player must rely on his or her own wit and intuition in order to solve all the puzzles. Very few games in recent generations tap in to the level of challenge that Banjo-Kazooie pulls off.
Banjo-Kazooie is a quirky game that simply makes you smile. It’s a fun experience that cannot be compared. By far, it is one of the best games to be made in the last 20 years. It is no wonder how the game managed to win multiple awards for graphics, textures, music, and more, as well as earn a ranking of 9.6 out of 10 by IGN.
While the rest of the world is buying the latest games for WiiU and looking forward to the release of the PlayStation 4, this girl will be sticking to saving Jinjos and collecting Jiggies.