BY: KATIE BROOKS
progress@eku.edu

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.

2 Comments

  1. Banjo Kazooie and its follow up, Banjo Tooie were my two of my favorite video games and remain as such. I still from time to time warm up the old nintendo 64 or bring up a new game on my xbox live downloaded copies. I have purchased every game with banjo and kazooie in it, both cannon and non cannon. I only lack the orginal diddy kong racing, in which Banjo was a racer. A pitty he couldn’t return for the release of Diddy kong racing, it was the only reason i bought it lol. I even played the GBA one, Grunty’s Revenge and Banjo Pilot. I neary fainted when i first heard about the XBOX 360 game, Banjo Kazooie nuts & bolts, and i acutaly enjoyed that one, but honestly, the DLC ruined my views of the game. I mean some of LOG’s Lost Challenges were pure rubbish, and the computer cheated to the point of insanity. I did not like how Mr. Patch was dramaticly dumbed down and striped of his character in Nuts and Bolts. He was one of my fave characters from Tooie. I loved the sure size of the levels, for the felt like real B&K levels. However, I did not like the fact that the old moveset of banjo and kazooie had been ripped away. Part of the fun was exploring the world without some tool to help you along the way and the Wrench, though fun to abuse, was a bit too convienant. I hold out big hopes for B&K 3 on the next gen consols, or to have Nintendo repurchase Rare from Microsoft as they cleary dont’ know what they are doign with the characters.

    I must say though, having B&K skins in minecraft is a wonderfull tribut

  2. I very recently spent a Sunday afternoon finishing off an old game save to find the final 900 notes and jigsaw pieces once again, and it is still a very charming and vibrant game.

    I agree with you on the music too. The way the overworld theme changes as you walk around is inspired, and the game as a whole is technically and visually very impressive, even today. Nintendo themselves conceeded that Rare were one of the few – if only – developers around who could rival the quality of their own games, and even exceed them in some cases. That’s the biggest compliment you can give B-K.

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