Review by PurestProdigy
"Truly deserving of the title "Classic""
Awesome. Legendary. Classic. These words can only begin to describe the wonder that is Banjo-Kazooie. This game is pure unadulterated fun. From the wacky, funny characters to the addicting gameplay elements to the great music, sound effects and yes, even graphics, this game is entertainment at it's finest. Oldcomers and newcomers alike will experience pure glee whether it be for the first time or for the millionth time as they tour through the game's lush environments, wide-open levels, and feel freedom as they conquer tasks using the game's very easy-to-master control scheme. Combine this with the fact that the Xbox Live Arcade version has leaderboards, and you have yourself one heck of a game.
The game starts out on a dark and stormy night... You're given the view of an gloomy looking tower, and when the camera scrolls down it is shown that the structure is in the shape of a witch's hat which belongs to a grotesque green face. The scene shifts to inside of the cave-like architecture and here we are given the first look at the antagonist, the rhyming evil witch Gruntilda. She is seen asking her chamberpot who the best looking girl is in the land. At first he convinces her that she is the best looking, but than hesitates and says that there is one named Tooty who looks better than her. Grunty gets outraged by this claim and takes it upon herself to kidnap this so-called Tooty in the hopes of using her body-switching machine to exchange all of Tooty's good looks to her body, thus leaving Tooty mishapped and ugly as Grunty is in her present form. She succeeds in kidnapping her and it is up to Banjo, who happens to be Tooty's brother to save Tooty and whoop the witch before the transformation can take place. He enlists the help of his smart-mouthed friend Kazooie who happens to reside in his backpack and who's witty comments make this journey a lot more enjoyable. Along the way he meets up with Bottles the mole who teaches them new abilities, and the shaman Mumbo, who can transform Banjo into other things. Not exactly a Shakespearean tragedy, but regardless the story of this game is so entertaining and has so many really hilarious moments that most players wouldn't have it any other way.
The graphics of this game, like it's storyline, are simple yet still very sophisticated. Seriously, the game should be treated as more of a cartoon in terms of it's graphics mainly because of the fact that we're dealing with talking bears and the like. Realistic isn't what is being aimed for in terms of graphical prowess. That said, the areas of this game are awesome, and things that you would hardly even notice are in great condition graphically. Enemy and character designs are original and fun, and the environments are lavish and luxuriant. Not to mention said areas are wide and large and encourage a large amount of exploring.
This game really excels in exploring considering that it's a 3D platformer that involves quite a lot of collecting and puzzle solving. Basically, to move through the witches lair, you need a certain amount of notes that you can gather from 100 in each level. These notes are scattered all over the place, but it is not necessary to collect every single one to progress through the game. Similar to this the duo must engage in daunting tasks in order to gain Jiggies (golden jigsaw puzzle pieces) that unlock each individual world inside the lair. Jiggies just like notes do not need to be completely collected to move on, but they are obtained through long tasks central to a stages themes or characters. For instance you may have to solve a puzzle or maneuver through a maze to receive a Jiggy as your reward. In order to collect most of these items and move through the game, Bottles will teach you new moves as you find his tunnels in the various levels. Eventually you'll learn to shoot eggs, become temporarily invincible, and fly, which is probably one of the cooler features in this game. You eventually meet another character named Mumbo who has the ability to change Banjo into various creatures that allow him to get to areas that are inaccessible in his normal form. The only lamentable trait about this game's gameplay is swimming controls. They are very clunky and sometimes it is frustratingly difficult to maneuver under the water. However it's not too unfortunate as it is not a necessary ability for too many parts in the game.
A nifty new additional gameplay feature that has been added in are leaderboards. Not that they really affect the gameplay, but it is pretty fun to be able play this game competitively. The leaderboards are measured primarily by how many Jiggies you have, then how many notes you have, and finally how quickly you reached that amount. It is a nifty innovative feature that originated here and hopefully will be seen in more games of this scope and magnitude.
Banjo-Kazooie is a game that has aged incredibly well and is still very entertaining to play over and over again. The replay value has even increased due to the inclusion of leaderboards, and the game is quite lengthy to begin with. The story will keep you entranced with its many scenes of comedy, and the large environments and memorable characters combined with engrossing gameplay and pleasant music makes this a must have for any collection.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 02/17/09
Game Release: Banjo-Kazooie (US, 12/03/08)
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