Banjo-Kazooie (XBLA) Review

Back in the days of the N64 there were many games that garnered a certain amount of praise.  Banjo-Kazooie was one of these.  Released in 1998 the game was built upon the same 3D premise that Mario 64 gained infamy for and in some cases was scrutinised for doing so.

Banjo-Kazooie follows Banjo, a bear, and his breagull Kazooie that lives in his back-pack (this fact is still to be explained) on their search to save Banjos sister from evil witch Gruntilda.  The game follows the standard action/platform formula of off-shot worlds inter-connected via a hub from here the player must collect various items to proceed; Jigsaw pieces, musical notes and honeycomb pieces being among them.  Normally too many items would be a point of criticism, however, this was one of the games that was at the fore-front of this genre and there is always an incentive to give into OCD and collect everything.

So, there are a few changes made to the N64 version for the release in XBLA; Character models have been upgraded (although I couldn’t tell the difference), the game is now in Widescreen as opposed to the old 4:3 ratio as well as now being HD, the “Stop and Swap” feature is now fully implemented in the game and of course there’s the usual leaderboards and achievements added.

Gameplay in B-K is still pretty much the same as it has always been.  The controls remain relatively tight throughout, with only a few cases of collision detection causing irritation later in the game (which is negligible given the overall picture).  Moves have been mapped to the controller well too; meaning that abilities can be done instinctively rather than having to look to see what you’re inputting on the pad.  One other change to the controls are that camera control is now controlled on an analogue stick, as opposed to button press on the N64, meaning that rotation can be performed much easier than in the 1998 counterpart but still suffers from getting occasionally stuck on walls or behind objects.

Given how few games Rare have put out over the course of the 360’s lifespan it does beg the question as to whether this should have been a full remake using the “nuts and bolts” engine.  Indeed, the fact that the game seems to have graduated from the Nintendo school of game development where a set of eyes is on every object in the game (or a vision to a horrible future of gene manipulation), it does seem to grate on the eyes.  But then again that might just be purely the age of the reviewer.

Banjo-Kazooie, even casting the rose-tinted glasses aside, remains a great game and at 1,200 MS points is well worth the money spent on it.  Whether you are a veteran to the series or if you missed it the first time around this is definitely one for the download list.



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I'm Mark Gibson & this is another one of my blogs where you're likely to find musings of daily life, gaming & just plain rambling.

Currently Playing:
Modern Warefare 2
Forza 3

Currently Watching:
South Park

Currently Listening to:
Cage - Depart From Me
Flobots - Fight With Tools

Currently Reading:
The Wheel of Time (again)

January 2009
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