Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie are two of the most herald platformers of all time. Their mixture of great combat gameplay, challenging puzzles and vast environments made playing them an absolute treat. Not only were they two of the most beloved games on the Nintendo 64, but also two of the most beloved games of all time. It’s no surprise, then, that both have seen release on XBOX Live Arcade. Banjo-Kazooie has been available for a while now and now that we get the sequel in Banjo-Tooie, we get yet another great trip down nostalgia lane with this slightly upgraded classic adventure.
Banjo-Tooie on XBLA is not an identical port of the original title on Nintendo 64. While the levels and gameplay remain practically the same, the title has received a nice little graphical touch-up, with slightly brighter colours and an overall smoother presentation that isn’t quite as rough around the edges. The game has been spruced up to take advantage of the power of the 360, and that’s obvious right from the moment you load the title up.
The aim of the game is to collect jiggies, which are scattered across the nine levels. Each level is enormous, so there’s plenty to explore and heaps to experience. There are ten jiggies in each level, of which can be won by completing small objectives and goals as set out across the areas. Beyond the main missions you’ll take on, there are heaps of collectables hidden throughout the game that you’ll need to collect in order to finish the game and achieve 100% completion. On top of the 100 musical notes, there are pages for the cheat book, honeycomb pieces and jinjo characters to find, so there’s always something to do in Banjo-Tooie.
It’s really surprising how so much was fit into such a small capacity on the N64 cartridge. Both Banjo games, along with Donkey Kong 64 and the Zelda titles, offered so much when it came to environments and collectables and Banjo-Tooie is without a doubt one of the deepest experiences on XBLA. Considering what you’re paying, you’re getting a hell of a lot of playtime, not to mention the amount of times you’ll probably want to play through it.
The great thing is that, apart from the graphics, the game has been left relatively untouched. If you played the first game, you’ll notice that Banjo has maintained all of the moves he learned throughout that first adventure. Add on a whole new bunch of skills and moves that he’ll learn the second time round, and you have an incredible amount of combat and gameplay options at your disposal.
RARE did an amazing job with the level design and gameplay mechanics, making this title and the original so much fun and incredibly accessible. There’s a level of challenge that will attract even the oldest of gamers, but there’s also the charm and kiddy humour that will be appealing to the younger crowd. Forget about this game being a decade old. The truth is that it still holds up today if you can look past the outdated graphics, lack of voice-overs and simple soundtrack tunes. The levels are just so open and fun to explore and it’s a shame that we don’t really see games like this anymore. Ratchet and Clank comes close, but those games have a linear direction to them, something the Banjo games didn’t have. The freedom is there to explore and interact as you wish, and that’s part of what made them good 10 years ago, and what still makes them so fun to play today.
As an XBLA game, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t buy this game and its predecessor. It’s an amazing experience and one that still holds up today. There’s so much to do and explore, and it’s great that the graphics have been given a slight touch-up. The price might dictate a 2+ hour experience, yet you’re getting a game with 30+ hours of overall gameplay.
Not only is this game incredibly accessible, but also it’s just as fun to experience as it was ten years ago. There are so many areas to explore, and the great level design and puzzles make this an absolute treat to play.
It still has the poor N64 textures and designs, but there’s been a slight upgrade and the game definitely has a brighter and smoother feel about it. It’s not perfect by any means, and there are better-looking games on XBLA without a doubt, but it still looks good for what it is.
A fantastic soundtrack that was made with limited space and resources. That has to be applauded! However, the sound effects aren’t really anything to write home about, and the lack of voice-overs is annoying when you have to listen to the same ol’ bird and bear noises over and over again.
So much to see, explore and experience. Well worth your money.