Review by Retro

"Is it as great as Banjo-Kazooie? Well.....close but no cigar"

Being a fan of Banjo-Kazooie, I knew I would have to give Banjo-Tooie a try whether I just rented it or bought it. Fortunately, to save my billfold a little bit of trouble, I got it as a birthday present a few months ago.

Banjo-Tooie was just like I was expecting it to be, with a few surprises and disappointments included. In Banjo-Kazooie, a redneck bear (Banjo) and a smart-mouthed, yet hilarious bird by the name of Kazooie, teamed up to try and save Banjo's sister, Tooty, who had been kidnapped by an evil and ugly witch named Gruntilda.

Now, two years later, Banjo and Kazooie are still great friends, but Gruntilda is still trapped under a huge boulder. Somehow, Gruntilda happens to escape out from under the poor boulder that has had to look at her for the past two years. As you might guess, after all of those sleepless and rocky nights, Gruntilda is extremely upset at the bear and the bird that resides in a backpack. So it's time for some revenge!

Banjo and Kazooie would both rather sit this one out, if it wasn't for their friend Bottles, being killed. To have a chance to revive Bottles, the unlikely duo must find and again destroy the now even uglier witch named Gruntilda.

As I mentioned, Banjo-Tooie is a lot like Banjo-Kazooie, except that it has its own pros and cons when compared to the classic original.

At the start of Banjo-Tooie, Banjo and Kazooie are still equipped with all of the same moves that they learned in Banjo-Kazooie. The Beak Barge is still there, Kazooie still spits eggs and can get out of the backpack and run with Banjo on his back, and so on. But those old moves won't be enough to seek vengeance against Gruntilda this time around.

Since Bottles (who taught them all the moves they know in Banjo-Kazooie) is now a helpless ghost, his upbeat brother, Jamjars, will now take the responsibility of teaching the bear and bird a bunch, and I mean A BUNCH of new moves in Banjo-Tooie.

Jamjars isn't the only new character that is eager to help Banjo and Kazooie out in this second adventure. Mumbo is still here to help, but not in the same way. Instead of morphing you into various objects, Mumbo offers to let you control him. To keep it interesting, the developers chose to still give Banjo the ability to morph into different things. Humba Wumba takes over this responsibility. Humba Wumba is a human woman who really knows her magic.

Finally, there is one last new character that is important enough to mention. Master Jiggywiggy is an all-powerful being that offers to open up new worlds for Banjo and Kazooie. After you collect so many jiggies, you can go to Master Jiggywiggy. Once you visit him, you must use Banjo's hand and put a jigsaw puzzle together. Once you do that, this creature who has a puzzle piece as a head and calls himself Jiggywiggy, will use a beam and open up the next world for you.

The worlds in Banjo-Tooie are very impressive, with massive environments that are all one of a kind. There is an underwater world (Jolly Roger's Lagoon), an underground mine (Glitter Gulch Mine), a fire/ice world (Hailfire Peaks), one set in the skies (Cloud Cuckooland), a futuristic carnival (Witchyworld), and a few others.

In each world, the object is the same. Collect as many jiggies and notes as you can, and beat the world's boss. There are a variety of ways in which to earn a jiggy. There are many characters such as Tiptup the turtle, Boggy's wife, and others, who are looking for help. When you do what they ask you to, you just might earn a jiggy. Some jiggies are out in the open just waiting for you, and others are in the open, yet they'll require you to do something such as stop the spinning blades of a fan, before you can reach the piece. Anytime you beat a boss, your reward will be a puzzle piece. Finally, there is a good number of bonus games that are waiting to be played. If you're good enough to get a high enough score, or to complete these games, a jiggy will become yours.

Jiggies are the main thing that you'll be hunting for, but there are other items that are almost as important. Just like in Banjo-Kazooie, in each world of Banjo-Tooie, there is a total of 100 notes. However, this time around, it's a cinch to find all the notes in a world. This is because all the notes are in a pack of 5, except for one in each world called the Treble Cleft, which accounts for 20 notes when collected.

During the game of Banjo-Tooie, Mumbo offers himself as help. You will be able to fully control Mumbo. This means you can use his wand as a weapon, make him walk around, jump, and everything. At certain places in each world, there are Mumbo spaces. When you use Mumbo and make him stand on one of these spaces and press B, he will do whatever needs to be done. But first, to use Mumbo or Humba Wumba's magic (she turns you into different things such as a washing machine, a bee, dinosaur, and more), you have to find a pink bunny-looking creature called a glowbo. Once you give a glowbo to either of the Shamans (Mumbo or Humba Wumba), their magic will be yours to use from that point on.

Finding your way around the worlds of Banjo-Tooie should be no sweat for two reasons. One, you will be exploring them so much that you'll probably know them like the back of your hand after awhile. Two, there are portals that can transport you to another portal after you find them.

Just like in Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo and Kazooie need to collect all the feathers and eggs that they can, but not extra lives. You heard me right, you are blessed with an unlimited number of lives in this game. Red feathers are still used for flight and gold feathers can be used for invincibility. The eggs, however, are a little different. The basic blue eggs are still here, but there are several different kinds of eggs that can be used this second time around.

Fire eggs are a glob of fire, grenade eggs (you'll be using these a lot) explode when they hit something, ice eggs can freeze some enemies, and there are big spotted eggs that contain a bomb that looks like a bird. These bombing birds are different, but extremely cool. When you shoot one of the spotted eggs, it instantly hatches into one of these bird bombs. For about 20 seconds, you can use the controller to make the bird walk around in any direction. Once the time runs off the clock or when you press B, the bird will explode.

As I mentioned earlier, Jamjars teaches Banjo and Kazooie a bunch of new moves. But first, let me explain something else that is a biggy. There are split-up pads scattered throughout Banjo-Tooie. These pads allow the bear and bird to take a much-needed break from each other. While standing on the pad, you can either control just Banjo, or just Kazooie. Some of the new moves are designed for only Banjo or only Kazooie, and some are for both of them as a pair. Among the new moves, are learning to use springy shoes and claw clamber boots (for climbing up walls), Kazooie's glide, Banjo being able to use his empty backpack as a bed, a sack, and even a hideout, and many others.

Again, pieces of honeycomb play a major role in this game. Once you collect so many honeycombs, you can take a break and visit Honey B in order to see if you have collected enough to earn an extra energy unit. Finally, the last major item that you need to keep a look out for while playing Banjo-Tooie is pages of Cheato's book.

If you've ever played Banjo-Kazooie, you probably remember a book character named Cheato. In Banjo-Tooie, many of Cheato's pages are scattered throughout the game. After collecting so many of them, you can visit Cheato, and he might give you a new spell that you could use. Most of Cheato's spells are VERY useful in Banjo and Kazooie's quest. A couple of the best ones are the ability to not lose any energy after a fall, and one that has something to do with energy that almost makes the game unfair, but I'll let you discover that one for yourself.

There were bosses in Banjo-Kazooie, but not many. In Banjo-Tooie, there is at least one boss in every world. The bosses can range from a fire and ice dragon to a Mumbo wannabe, among many others.

Now it's time for the major question that fans of Banjo-Kazooie and prospective buyers or Banjo-Tooie are dying to know. Is Banjo-Tooie as good as Banjo-Kazooie? Well, for me it's a yes, but no. As for the one-player adventure itself, Banjo-Tooie is fun and it's not too easy or too hard, but it's just not quite as fun as Banjo-Kazooie. There is a lot more to do in Banjo-Tooie to make it entertaining. But the game itself just isn't as fun as Banjo-Kazooie to me. I guess the main reason I think that is because one or two of the worlds (Grunty's Industries mainly, with Hailfire Peaks in a close second) are so frustrating that it seems more like a chore to get through them than it is about having a good time.

On the other hand, Banjo-Tooie has a lot more of a variety to its gameplay than Banjo-Kazooie had. There are a lot of new kinds of weapons and abilities to use, and there are more bosses, but the standout of what Banjo-Tooie has to offer that its predecessor didn't, is the multiplayer games. When you start a new game of Banjo-Tooie, you'll notice that there are three slots in which you can save a game. Go further with the cursor and there are also the other things you knew there would be such as a way to delete or copy a game. But best of all, there is a multiplayer mode in which you and up to three other people can play the many mini-games that you played during your quest in the one-player adventure. When you play a mini-game in the one-player adventure, it immediately becomes available to play as a multiplayer game. Most of the mini-games are fun. There are ones in which you try to get a high score (the majority of them) by busting balloons or shooting your opponent, and some are even corridor shooters.

Also, there is an option that allows you to replay all the mini-games anytime you want. Under this option, you can also watch all the cinemas anytime, and you can fight all of the bosses any time you want, any place you want, any day of the year. But first, you must play the one-player game and find these things.

What I'm trying to say is that the adventure itself isn't quite as fun as Banjo-Kazooie, so in that respect, Banjo-Tooie is almost, but not quite, as good as Banjo-Kazooie. However, you can replay all the bosses, cinemas, and games, and play all the games in multiplayer mode in Banjo-Tooie. In that way, it's better than Banjo-Kazooie.

If you liked Banjo-Kazooie or if you like other 3D platformers such as Super Mario 64 or Donkey Kong 64, Banjo-Tooie would be a great game to add to your collection!

GRAPHICS - Banjo-Tooie doesn't have the best graphics for the Nintendo 64, and it didn't when it first came out, but the graphics are pleasing. All the lead characters and most of the enemies are well drawn and have good animation. The levels are huge, detailed, and well designed. The backgrounds are crisp and pleasing, and they add to the levels' atmospheres.

SOUND & MUSIC - The sound effects are, for the most part, well done. All of Banjo and Kazooie's sounds are great, but some of the enemies sound a little strange when defeated (like those short, green, round monsters). As for the music, none of the tunes are bad, but they could've been better. The only music that stands out as being great is the music in Jolly Roger's Lagoon.

CONTROL - The controls are all responsive and very well done. Whether it's jumping, climbing, swimming, etc., it's easy to make Banjo and Kazooie do what you want them to do. The camera angles can sometimes be a little frustrating, but that's not very often. Most of the time, the camera will get where you want it to.

REPLAY VALUE - It will probably be a long time before I start from the beginning and go all the way through Banjo-Tooie again, but that's to be expected. Not since the 16-bit days have I played a game that I can play from start to finish more than three times and still want to play it again (that's one of the main reasons I'm a retro freak). But it is a lot of fun to play the multiplayer modes and to play the bosses and mini-games over and over again.

OVERALL - I'm giving Banjo-Tooie an 8 because, while its one-player adventure is fun, it's not quite as fun as Banjo-Kazooie's. Once I first beat Banjo-Kazooie, I sort of missed playing the game for awhile, but I don't get that feeling with Banjo-Tooie. BUT, the replay value is boosted up some because of the ability to play the mini-games, bosses, cinemas, and the multi-player games at any time. For that, I'll give the game an 8 instead of a 7.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/21/01, Updated 05/20/02

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