Banjo Kazooie

Banjo Kazooie

Format- N64

Genre- 3D Platformer

Banjo Kazooie-N64

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I think Banjo Kazooie’s a bit of a classic.

When I hear people doing retrospectives on the subjects of N64 or developers Rare however, they usually dismiss the game as a turgid collectathon.

That is completely and utterly wrong in my opinion. So without further ado, here’s my hastily assembled defence for this unfairly maligned 3D platformer…

Banjo Kazooie-N64

This was my first title for the N64, and as a result I naturally have a bit more affection for it than others might do. This doesn’t mean that I think it’s flawless though – just that most of the game’s faults are blown mostly out of proportion by its critics.

First, there’s the criticism that the game is only really about collecting items. Balderdash. Although there are far more items to bag than in, say, Super Mario 64, there really isn’t a suffocating amount so that it dilutes the actual gameplay.

This was arguably a problem in Banjo Tooie where you had several different egg types – but the original has no such issues.

Banjo Kazooie-N64

Next, the Rare staple of sticking a pair of eyes of an object is dismissed as a lazy form of characterisation. The game may go a little further than needs to at times (Loggo the toilet i’m *shudder* looking at you), but Banjo Kazooie is primarily aimed at younger players, and in that context this process is quite charming.

The same goes for the garbled voices. I like them dammit! They fit into the feel of the game perfectly.

The way people moan about these googly eyed and strangely voiced characters you’d think the game was attempting to be a piece of high art. It’s not, so this criticism is more than a little unfair.

Finally, the large move-set of the game comes in for a fair bit of stick. It’s a criticism I can actually understand – compared to the simple but deep skill set of Mario, Banjo and Kazooie’s moves seem a little less natural.

Banjo Kazooie-N64

I personally don’t mind it, but other players may not like the way the game has more attack and jump types than is really necessary. A little streamlining might not have gone amiss.

In the standout parts of the game, the worlds you explore are nearly all wonderfully varied and lovingly designed. Each world is standalone, with different enemies and wildly different challenges in each one. They’re small but have a whole lot of things to do in them.

The game’s piece de resistance is definitely Click Clock Wood. A hugely ambitious multi-season romp, it stands out from the rest of the game every time I play it.

The other worlds are all fairly tight and well designed, but then this world comes out of nowhere and dwarfs them all. This world is the high point of the game, and in my view, the entire Banjo series. I haven’t finished Nuts and Bolts though, admittedly.

Finally, the game looks gorgeous. For an N64 game it still wows me, and I can’t see the game becoming out-dated or unplayable for a long time yet. The 360 hi-res version looks nicer still. The music is also great. Sure, it’s a probably a little too lively for some, but it’s catchy as hell and fits the game to a tee.

I probably haven’t convinced or indeed unconvinced anyone with the previous spiel, but it’s good to get it off my chest nontheless. Tomorrow – something a little more obscure.

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Simon Reed

A retro gamer, but one who is always keen to assess an older title without judgement being clouded by nostalgia. He doesn't always manage this though... Check out his Youtube page at: http://www.youtube.com/user/ebtksonline

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