Introduction – Banjo Kazooie Memories
Banjo Kazooie is a game that was first released all the way back in 1998 for the Nintendo 64. I have a few blurry memories of going to Blockbuster and renting this game and I remember when I first played it, I was too young to want to try and complete it back then I just would run around the beginning world or Mumbo’s Mountain the first level.
It wasn’t until years later when I was in my teens that I first went through and completed the game. I thought it was one of the best games I’ve ever played and have completed it multiple times throughout the years ever since. This game also saw a sort of remaster on the Xbox Live Arcade that saw slightly improved graphics and one major change that we will get into later. To my surprise and delight, Banjo Kazooie was also added to the N64 expansion library for Nintendo Switch online last month and I decided to go through for myself. This review is going to be primarily about the Nintendo Switch version, but I’d like to also discuss a few more points.
I’d like to talk about how well this game still holds up in the year 2022 and which version a new player to Banjo Kazooie should play either this version or the Xbox Live arcade version as getting an original copy can be rather expensive.
What is Banjo Kazooie?
Banjo-Kazooie is a 3D platformer that opens with Gruntilda the witch kidnapping Banjo’s sister Tootie and escaping back into her lair so that she can steal Tootie’s beauty. Playing as Banjo with Kazooie in his backpack you must head into Grunty’s lair and collect enough jiggies and notes to reach the witch and save Banjo’s sister.
Each world hidden inside the lair include new moves for Kazooie that helps Banjo collect all the jiggies and notes in each world and friendly creatures called Jinjos that you must find in each world along with a few more collectables to expand Banjo’s health or tokens that allow the local shaman Mumbo Jumbo to transform Banjo into a different animal on certain worlds. With these in mind, Banjo Kazooie can also be dubbed a Collect-A-Thon platformer inspired by the Nintendo 64 flagship game Super Mario 64.
The other thing you’ll find in each world is a switch that will open a unique jiggie back inside the lair once you exit the world. Along the way while you explore the lair you also meet Grunty’s sister who is a nice witch that gives you secrets on Grunty’s personal life that is very useful for the final portion of the game. Once you’ve finally reached Grunty you must first face her in a board game style challenge that tests both your skills at the game and knowledge of the game itself. This was unique at the time and something I remember fondly.
You end up rescuing Tootie after this challenge but before the final credits can come you must go back up and face Grunty at the top of her castle for one final showdown. This final boss fight tests your skill and is a big step up in difficulty near the end of the fight. With a little help from the Jinjo’s, you finally defeat Grunty once and for all.
Banjo Kazooie in 2022 – Does it Hold Up?
How does Banjo Kazooie hold up in the year 2022 almost 24 years after the initial release? I believe the gameplay and platforming of this game still definitely hold up as a game even newcomers will enjoy. The art style of the graphics in my opinion have aged well due to the game’s cartoony appearance and overall vibe and atmosphere. This game is overall still very fun to play and enough of a challenge that doesn’t make it too easy either.
It also rewards you greatly for getting every main collectable by giving you a few upgrades to your inventory. You can also find pages that belong to the spell book “Cheato” who gives you even more upgrades to your inventory that feel rewarding to earn as well. A lot of the character’s dialogue is good, but Kazooie steals the show with her personality and witty dialogue. Each world is different from one another and very creative with a theme surrounding each one that led to specific worlds being very memorable with my favorites being Freezeezy Peak and Mad Monster Mansion.
Which version should you play?
Which version should a newcomer play the Xbox Live arcade version or this Nintendo Switch online version? Well previously I would have said the Xbox Live arcade version, however, after thinking about it for a while after completing it on the Nintendo Switch, I would say this is the better version. This N64 expansion pass made the graphics a bit more polished but kept everything faithful to the original from 1998 without changing any of the mechanics or dialogue.
The Xbox Live arcade version changed a major mechanic having to do with collecting the notes in each world. In the original Banjo Kazooie, the notes acted as a high score system where you can collect up to the 100 notes in each world and once you leave the world or lose a life your high score is saved so for example if you collected 80 notes and lose a life your high score is 80 notes and once you enter the world again all the notes are back for you to try and get all 100.
The Xbox Live arcade version changed this by taking out the high score system and instead once you have collected notes it saves so if you collect 80 notes and lose a life, once you go back into the world you will only need to find the remaining 20 notes to complete the world.
At first, I enjoyed this change but now that I played this new Nintendo Switch online version, I have to say that the challenge of finding all the notes in one session as a high score system makes the game more fun and enjoyable as a game. The dialogue change is minor in the Xbox Live arcade version but is noticeable and I just prefer the original dialogue with Nintendo personally.
Overall, I would give Banjo Kazooie a 10/10 which is rare for me and highly recommend anyone play this game and experience it for themselves it will not disappoint.
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- Graphics look slightly polished
- Kept it more faithful to the original
- Save states if it gets tough.
- Playing it portable the camera has a slight issue at times
- The aiming with shooting Kazooie eggs sometimes