Aug 29, 2020

Revisiting Banjo-Kazooie 20 Years Later

Matthew Mann

ooking back at games produced in the 90’s and early 2000’s is a timely reminder of how far gaming has come in a short period of time. Banjo Kazooie is a perfect example of this.

When Banjo Kazooie came out, the game developer Rare, was riding an incredible high, coming off the amazing success of GoldenEye. Rare had just created what was perceived as the British Super Mario 64, and sales reflected that. But like so many early 3D games, time hasn't been particularly kind to this title.

Presented with a friendly and colorful flair, Banjo Kazooie is a rescue tale featuring Banjo the bear and a bird named Kazooie who rides on his back. Developed almost identically to Super Mario 64, your character wanders around an area known as Spiral Mountain on the hunt for the evil witch Gruntilda, who has captured Banjo's sister Tooty for basically just being pretty.

An Adventure Awaits

During your travels through Gruntilda's lair, you'll get to explore numerous worlds while hunting for jiggies (little, collectible jigsaw pieces). Like most games, you spend most of your time collecting items while taking on side missions to progress through the main storyline. Musical notes,  jiggies, honeycomb pieces, and Mumbo Jumbos are all parts of Banjo Kazooie's world. Little blue skull items can be traded with a shaman to transform Banjo into various creatures, including a termite, bee and crocodile.

To move throughout the levels, you must learn how to properly fly with kazooie, although the use of camera angles proves to be clumsy and sometimes difficult to navigate. Having to fight with the game mechanics and ability of the original controller, reminds us how gaming used to be and how far we've come. Take swimming and flying for instance. Trying to maneuver Banjo through water feels like he's moving through molasses. Flying is almost as bad. Gauging the distance needed to flying is almost always wrong, causing Banjo to overshoot his flights. Most jumps are also clunky and inaccurate. Most of this is caused by the camera angles.  

Falling short

In addition to the mechanics, the dialogue is less than desirable. Games of the 90’s did lack actual dialogue and storyline complexity. Subtitles were very frequent and needed to be read because the words said by the characters were just noises. Most of the character noises seemed as if there was no actual effort put in to sound anything like real words.

Persistence seems to be the key to revisiting these old games. As long as you put time into retrieving your long lost youth and sleepless nights with your friends, you'll get right back into the swing of things. Don't let revisiting the game of your childhood ruin your nostalgia. Technology wasn't even close to what we have now, but it was enough at the time.

If you are interested in a more in depth video review, watch below!

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