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Joseph Rositano
01 Jan, 2009

XBLA Banjo-Kazooie Review

360 Review | Has the original classic stood the test of time?
It was only ten years ago when the original Banjo-Kazooie was released. The game itself didn’t really break any new ground for the platforming genre, and many even argued it was a knock off of Super Mario 64. What set it apart from Mario though were the wacky characters, sense of humour and a touch of Rare magic. With the recent release of Nuts & Bolts, Microsoft have decided to re-release the original on the XBLA - has it stood the test of time?

For those that never played it, Banjo-Kazooie tells the story of a bear named Banjo and his bird buddy Kazooie. One day, the evil witch Gruntilda kidnaps Tooty, Banjo’s sister, so that she can transform her ugly green self into an exotic beauty. In typical fashion, Banjo sets out to rescue his sibling. The gameplay mainly sees you explore different worlds, collecting jigsaw pieces and musical notes to access new levels and bypass obstacles. There are quite a few intriguing challenges to undertake as well, everything from racing a polar bear, to clearing the nose of giant sphinx-like statue. Also, players slowly unlock new moves such as the ability to fly and shoot eggs out of Kazooie’s mouth. It’s got all the bells and whistles of a standard platformer.

Musical notes are now a one-time item.

Musical notes are now a one-time item.
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Unlike a lot of other ports on the Arcade, Banjo-Kazooie has been treated to a number of improvements. First and foremost are the visuals. The game now supports 16:9 widescreen, and is a lot crisper and brighter, with a more consistent frame rate. Sprites of all the collectible objects such as musical notes, jinjos and honeycombs have also been updated, while music and sound effects sound a lot clearer than they did back in the N64 days. In terms of gameplay, the camera is free roaming and controlled via the right analogue stick. More importantly, jinjos and notes are now one-time items, so if you exit a world and haven’t quite found them all you can come back later and pick up where you left off. While the improvements are only minor, as a whole they modernise the title and give returning veterans that extra incentive to come back years after its initial release.

To compliment the improvements are also online leaderboards. You’ll have the option to check your times against friends or random strangers over Xbox Live. Again, it doesn’t really add a lot to the experience, but it brings back memories of the old gaming magazine competitions where readers would send in their best times. Another new(ish) feature are those notorious Stop and Swop items. Players who have save data for Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts will finally (or at least legitimately) be able to obtain them. Sadly, the rewards aren’t quite what some may have expected – all you get for your efforts are just a few new accessories for your vehicles in Nuts & Bolts. Regardless, it shows Rare and Microsoft took the time to add all these extras into the game, when they really could’ve gotten away with just sticking it up on the marketplace unchanged.

We spent years wondering what the ice key did... What a disappointment that was.

We spent years wondering what the ice key did... What a disappointment that was.
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Unfortunately, the XBLA port isn’t perfect. During the opening cutscene when Gruntilda turns her back to the camera there is this brief pause as if the game has frozen. Also, when you return to the main hub world after completing a level, the game once again pauses briefly, as if it were about to freeze. These are only minor issues, but returning veterans will still get annoyed it isn’t as fluid as they remember. On that note, there have been reports of two major glitches – notes disappearing if players complete the Bottles’ jigsaw game and even jigsaw pieces disappearing if players collect all the jinjos in a level and leave. During our play through we never experienced these issues, but to be on the safe side we recommend players don’t collect the jinjos or complete any of Bottle’s challenges until they’ve collected all the respected items.

So at the end of the day has Banjo-Kazooie aged well? The answer is a resounding yes. With the exception of a few minor issues such as the brief pauses when exiting levels, the game is the same as it was ten years ago. On top of this, you have online leaderboards, connectivity to Nuts & Bolts and an overall better visual presentation. Although the cost of 1,200 Xbox Live points may seem a bit steep for a ten year old game, if you were a fan of the N64 original or simply want some classic platformer action, you need not look anywhere else.
The Score
Despite being ten years old the original Banjo-Kazooie has aged remarkably well. The game is a must for anyone who loved the N64 outings or simply wants some classic platformer action.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Content

Rare bringing back past franchises?
17 Nov, 2008 Easter egg in Nuts & Bolts suggests Killer Instinct, Battletoads and Jet Force Gemini could all be making a return.
Banjo-Kazooie demo up on XBLM
29 Oct, 2008 Get jiggy with it.
Banjo-Kazooie for XBLA priced and dated
26 Sep, 2008 Oh, and Tooie is coming next year.
15 Comments
5 years ago
I wish we still got games of this kind. icon_sad.gif
5 years ago
Ya know playing through it again I found it kinda boring.
5 years ago
Yeah, well, YOUR boring.

One of the best games ever.It's amazing how much crap the 64 put out alongside some of the best games ever made.It was a golden era in gaming imo, to play oot, majoras mask and this(and goldeneye etc etc to a slightly lesser extent).

So many fond memories of this game, the hours i spent trying to get that ice key....or to open that door in gobi's desert.I'm pretty sure mumbo says throughout the game that he's cursed by grunty and when she's dead or defeated or something his curse will be lifted and he will return to his original form.

Was that answered in nuts and bolts cause it certainly wasn't in tooie?Anyways, banjo is at least in the top 10 games of all time for me.It didn't do what it did first, but damned if it didn't do it the best.
5 years ago
I grabbed a copy through ebay for $10 so I wasn't too worried about the price, thankfully the game was just as good as back in the day. Hopefully Rare took a good hard look at this when they were getting it ready for XBLA and see why their games were so good back in the day.
5 years ago
Bring on an XBLA installment of Conkers then!!! One of the best N64 games ever!
5 years ago
pdaddy wrote
Bring on an XBLA installment of Conkers then!!! One of the best N64 games ever!
Wasn't it remade for the original Xbox under the title of Conker: Live & Reloaded? Maybe we'll see that on the Xbox Originals service.
5 years ago
^That is correct. However, they changed the jokes in the game which refers to the N64 version. If they going to release it on the 360, I say release the N64 version.
--------------------
Got BK XBL game from Moistflaps, now I just need to find time to play it.
5 years ago
Island_Wolf wrote
^That is correct. However, they changed the jokes in the game which refers to the N64 version. If they going to release it on the 360, I say release the N64 version.
Yeah cause I'm sure Nintendo would have no problem letting them release a game making refrences to there own console.

They'd have to change it just like they did with Banjo Kazooie.
5 years ago
There's a gameboy reference or two in Banjo Kazooie XBLA. Hell, you can see a 64 in the opening of Nuts & Bolts.
5 years ago
isn't Banjo playing a gameboy in the menu system?
when you choose what game save to save to.

and yeah, Conker was remade for XBox 1. and just like it did on the N64, it was released just before the system was superseded, so i wouldn't expect it to appear on XBox Originals, or XBLA until MS were ready to announce the X720 - just to keep the tradition of failing to meet market expectations.
5 years ago
Benza wrote
Island_Wolf wrote
^That is correct. However, they changed the jokes in the game which refers to the N64 version. If they going to release it on the 360, I say release the N64 version.
Yeah cause I'm sure Nintendo would have no problem letting them release a game making refrences to there own console.
The jokes wasn't referring to the actual console, but to the script and event from the previous console. There is a slight change in the script and weapon.
5 years ago
Island_Wolf wrote
Benza wrote
Island_Wolf wrote
^That is correct. However, they changed the jokes in the game which refers to the N64 version. If they going to release it on the 360, I say release the N64 version.
Yeah cause I'm sure Nintendo would have no problem letting them release a game making refrences to there own console.
The jokes wasn't referring to the actual console, but to the script and event from the previous console.
"i'm sorry, but the Princess is in another castle"?
(i haven't played the original BK - so this is a total guess, but i kinda hope it was. like how Braid parodied it too.)
5 years ago
I bought this game a couple of weeks ago, with the anticipation of bring back the years of my teens playing my beloved N64. I was a little disappointed, actually, but not with the gameplay or graphics.
My big issue was that I couldn't completely skip the text. I forgot about that! And I got past the tutorial only to have the game freeze.... 7 times! After attempt 7 I gave up and chucked in Guitar Hero WT again!
5 years ago
I played Banjo back in the day and it bored the crap out of me, Nuts and Bolts did the exact same thing when I played the demo (to be fair, I hated Mario 64 as well, although I did like Quest 64... so go figure). If I have spare points at some time I may snap this up and have another play through, see if my tastes have changed at all.
5 years ago
Is a shame to hear about the freezing issues, ah thankyou original solid state cart for never doing that icon_biggrin.gif
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  03/12/2008 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Microsoft Games
Genre:
  Platformer
Year Made:
  1997
Players:
  1

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