Apr. 9th, 2010

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Banjo-Kazooie

I came into gaming during the late nineties, when the world of 3d platformers and FPS games were beginning to come into the spotlight. These were my games, and not the games that my uncles and cousins wouldn’t let me touch, nor were they the Halos and Jak’s of recent past. I am, of course, sifting through games released at any point in the last 30 years. 101 is a big number, you know.

Banjo-Kazooie is a pretty good game. There’s a lot of history behind it too, surpassing Super Mario 64 in the obscure trivia department. The game spent like five years in developmental hell, like many Rare games, and was scrapped and restarted at least once, going from a Legend of Zelda-type platformer to more of a cartoony Mario-type of game. The titular Banjo and Kazooie were upgraded from minor characters to starring roles. Project Dream, the original game, was lost to time[1].

The plot is marginally relevant. Banjo’s sister was kidnapped, possibly during the opening credit’s hoe-down, by Gruntilda, a witch whom was also a minor character from Project Dream. This leads to Banjo’s storming off through nine levels of varying degrees of frustration as he fights, flies, and farts his way back to his sister.  This culminates in a game show/board game, and pretty brutal final boss.

The difficulty curve on this game is not a curve in the least. It’s a steep drop at the halfway point.  You’ll plow through the first four worlds, but then the last five[2] will more than make up for it. The final battle with Gruntilda will cause you to throw your controller at least once.

One of the major flaws of this game, and many of the era, is that at many points of the game, it becomes a matter of you fighting the camera. I say this as though I’ve been keeping up with gaming advancements… I gave up on everything but JRPGs and DDR after 2002. I guess I’ll find out soon enough as I delve more into the Jak and Ratchet series.

Banjo-Kazooie is a game worthy of standing on the same platform as Super Mario 64[3]. It isn’t perfect, which SM64 is nigh close to, but there’s only so much stuff you can do with the same game before you have to play something different.

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Kelil Stephanos

April 2010

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