Grin and Bear It (No, seriously.
This game will make you grin.)
The similarities between Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie are definitely apparent. It's no secret that Rare indeed developed Banjo-Kazooie with great inspiration from Nintendo's launch title for the 64. However, there's enough newness here that Banjo-Kazooie doesn't feel like a total ripoff of Nintendo's work. Instead, what we get is a 3D platformer that I have no qualms with saying is a superior product to Super Mario 64.
Banjo-Kazooie begins with the bear and bird pair (that's Banjo the bear and Kazooie the bird, for those of the uninitiated) resting in bed. Meanwhile, Banjo's sister Tooty waits outside, anxious to go out on an adventure. All of a sudden, the wicked witch Gruntilda, known for speaking in verse, rides upon her broom, swoops down, and nabs Tooty. Grunty's plan is to rob Tooty of her beauty while making herself thin and beautiful. Hearing the commotion, Banjo and Kazooie leap outside to find Tooty bearnapped and a helpful mole named Bottles ready to give them advice to help the bear and bird pair rescue Banjo's sister.
Without question, Banjo-Kazooie brims with personality and charm. Gruntilda certainly steals the show with her funny rhymes, as well as her unconventional ways she goes about her business as a villain. This is seen through a late-game game show hosted by Grunty herself that tests the player's knowledge on many aspects of the entire game-- from distinguishing between areas of the game from closeup pictures to deciphering between character voices. Then there is the comedic banter between Banjo and Kazooie, the latter of the which isn't shy about insulting any and every character the duo come across.
|Banjo, you're not going to be able to take this bull by the horns.|
|This Jiggy requires Banjo to play a game of |
"Simon Says" off the backs of these turtles.
|As birds tend to do, Kazooie gets distracted by a shiny object.|
Each level has an accompanying picture that is missing Jiggies from it and needs to be completed. Through finding the picture, piecing it together for a finished product, only then will the way to that picture's world open.
Aside from those collectibles, there is one final one to go after, silver Mumbo Tokens. These are the currency in which you deliver to the game's shaman, Mumbo Jumbo, in exchange for him to work his magic and turn Banjo and Kazooie into one of many world-specific transformations. For instance, the first world of the game sees Mumbo Jumbo turning Banjo into a termite, able to trek on slopes that would otherwise be deemed too awkward to climb on for the bear and bird by themselves. Many times a transformation has more than one purpose within a world, but sometimes a transformation is just there for one reason-- to get a Jiggy that wouldn't be reachable without Mumbo's magic.
While Super Mario 64 kicked you out of a level once you collected a Power Star, Banjo-Kazooie allows you full exploration of worlds even after a Jiggy has been collected. Whereas Super Mario 64 had seven Power Stars per level, Banjo-Kazooie has ten, in addition to the 100 Musical Notes to collect, and one Gruntilda switch to stomp on that summons a Jiggy in Gruntilda's lair, the hub world of the game.
|There's no time to monkey around when there's Jiggies to get.|
|With the speed shoes, Kazooie is quick enough to |
nab this Jiggy before the hand closes.
|No, thanks. We don't have the time for a snowball fight!|
Also unlike Super Mario 64, the camera seldom causes trouble or unintended deaths. Now, to be fair, Super Mario 64 was the pioneer of the 3D camera, not having many contemporaries to take notes off of. However, Banjo-Kazooie does, and it makes for an experience with the camera that rarely causes aggravation and headaches. Another example of the superiority of Banjo-Kazooie over Super Mario 64.
|Don't look down. Don't look down. Don't look down.|
|"There's sand in my shorts!"|
[SPC Says: A+]