Banjo-Kazooie is a 3D adventure game made by Rareware for the Nintendo 64. It was first released in 1998 and was followed by the inventively-named sequel Banjo-Tooie in 2000 and the GameBoy Advance game Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge in 2005. The game also gave rise to the spin-off Banjo-Pilot for the GameBoy Advance, which was released in 2005. The game centres around the plight of Banjo the Bear whose sister Tooty has been kidnapped by the evil witch Gruntilda. Gruntilda plans to use a strange contraption to transfer Tooty's beauty to herself. Banjo therefore sets out on a rescue mission, with his sidekick bird Kazooie in his backpack, learning how useful the combination of bear and bird really is along the way.
Please note that this entry contains spoilers.
Although an unlikely combination, Banjo and Kazooie actually have a large number of moves available to them. At the start of the game, the player is introduced to Bottles the Mole, who teaches the pair how to make full use of their abilities. However, the player must earn the various moves by finding Bottles's molehills throughout the game, making the game progressively more challenging as greater feats are required to complete each world. This also means that the game has a shallow learning curve, making it suitable for a wide range of skill levels.
The moves include three different jumps with increasing degrees of help from Kazooie, climbing trees and slopes, swimming and diving underwater and eventually the ability to fly. There are also various forms of attack, ranging from clawing, pecking and rolling to mid-air attacks and the ability to fire eggs from Kazooie's mouth and behind. The most powerful move is Kazooie's 'wonderwing', which makes the pair invincible for a short time.
The game consists of nine worlds which are linked to Gruntilda's vast lair by a series of doors. Each world contains ten jigsaw pieces known as 'jiggies' which are used to complete the jigsaws in the lair. Once a jigsaw is completed, the player can access the world depicted upon it. The worlds also contain other items and objects which are important for the completion of the game, or just generally come in handy:
Jinjos - There are five of these little birds stranded in each world. Collecting all five provides the player with an extra jigsaw piece.
Mumbo's Tokens - These are used in Mumbo's Hut on some levels to persuade the great Mumbo to transform the player into a useful animal. The transformations are all vital to the completion of the level, although each is useful in a different way.
Musical Notes - Many of these are scattered around each level for the player to collect. Every time the player leaves a world or dies, the total number of notes collected is recorded. Gruntilda's lair contains several doors which can only be opened if the sum of your best scores for the worlds you have visited exceeds the required number shown on the door.
Honeycomb Pieces - Each life the player has consists of a number of honeycomb pieces which are lost if the player is hurt, but can be found by killing monsters or raiding beehives. The player's maximum honeycomb piece capacity can be increased by finding a set of six honeycomb shells, which together increase the capacity by one piece.
Extra Lives - At the start of the game, the player has five lives which can be regained by picking up extra lives.
Eggs - These form the ammunition used by Kazooie and are useful for defeating enemies from a distance.
Feathers - Both red and gold feathers are available. Red feathers are used for basic flying and attacking and gold feathers are used for Kazooie's 'wonderwing' attack.
Cauldrons - These are found inside Gruntilda's lair and form handy shortcuts once activated.
Wading Boots and Running Shoes - These two items are used to solve particular puzzles. The boots allow the player to move through hazardous terrain, while the shoes increase the player's speed.
Shock Pads - These can be used to launch the pair to great heights and form the key ingredient in the game's often irritating ledge-to-ledge jumps.
Flight Pads - These are the only points from which Kazooie can take off and fly.
Stomp Switches - Hitting these causes various important things to happen in the game. There is a Gruntilda stomp switch in each level which releases an extra jigsaw piece when hit.
The Game Environment
Another nice touch to the game is the way that each of the characters, and some of the items, make their own amusing noises while speech bubbles are displayed. This replaces recorded speech, which would have taken up too much memory to fit on the small cartridge which contains the game. The space freed up by this move allowed the game designers to create multicoloured and textured worlds with dynamic lighting1, making the game rather aesthetically pleasing as well as playable.
The game's soundtrack is also dynamic. The music changes seamlessly when the player moves into a different area or is in danger. Each of the worlds has its own textures, music and enemies, making the game a lot more playable by reducing its repetitiveness. The ability to reach high places and fly allows the player to view vast areas in some of the worlds, giving the game a degree of realism despite its cartoon nature.
The game features many minor characters, including Gruntilda's sister Brentilda who informs the player of the evil witch's disgusting habits, and Klungo, Gruntilda's Igor-like sidekick, as well as several overly-large enemies who inhabit the various worlds. The game also features a vast number of smaller enemies, ranging from killer vegetables to the undead skeletons of Mad Monster Mansion. Despite the number of creatures that inhabit the worlds, the designers of the game thought it best if many of the objects, including mines, presents and even the occasional flying cauliflower, were given their own set of eyes.
Perhaps the strangest touch of all is the Game Over screen. If you lose all of your lives or quit the game, you are shown what would happen if Banjo and Kazooie were to give up: the witch is shown succeeding in her evil plan to steal Tooty's good looks and we get to see the pair after the transformation has taken place.
There are nine worlds in Banjo-Kazooie, each with its own theme and challenges. However, a lot of the gameplay actually takes place in Gruntilda's lair, as many key items are hidden in various parts of this huge building — as well as the jigsaw puzzles, which must be completed to unlock the worlds. In order of unlocking, the worlds are:
Spiral Mountain - Though not part of the lair, this level is extremely important, as it is where Bottles teaches the pair the basic moves after the game begins.
Mumbo's Mountain - This is a small and relatively easy level to help ease players in and features a large orange-eating gorilla. The first Mumbo's Hut is present, allowing the player to turn into a termite.
Clanker's Cavern - A large sewer inhabited by various sharp-toothed creatures and a large metal fish known as Clanker.
Bubblegloop Swamp - A murky swamp filled with pirahnas and best traversed using wading boots or a crocodile. The swamp is home to a number of frogs and a large alligator.
Freezeezy Peak - A slippery, ice-covered world featuring a giant snowman and the chance to become a walrus.
Gobi's Valley - A Saharan desert-style world which includes a Sphinx, mummified body parts and a camel called Gobi.
Rusty Bucket Bay - A port containing a large boat which features funnels, a bridge and an engine room.
Click Clock Wood - A wood with a giant tree which can be played in each season. Some of the jiggies can only be collected at certain times of year. Each season has its own bad points, one of which is the number of bees around.
Stop 'n' Swop
Banjo-Kazooie is said to contain many inaccessible items and areas which cannot be reached at any point in the game. Also, players who succeed in collecting every single jigsaw piece are taunted with a view of a player reaching one of these items. The reason for these strange occurences was that the sequel, Banjo-Tooie, was originally meant to contain certain challenges which would unlock items in the original game. This would be done by using an N64 Expansion Pak to store the game details while switching from one game to the other.
This concept is known as 'Stop 'n' Swap', and would have added yet another level of gameplay to the already non-linear games. However, Rareware decided to ship the Expansion Pak along with Donkey Kong 64 instead. Although a three-way crossover between Donkey Kong and the two Banjo games was proposed, the code was never completed.