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Banjo-Kazooie

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Released: 1998

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Nintendo 64

Publisher: Rare

Developer: Rare

Submitted by: Liam Wood

After the kidnapping of Banjo the honey bear’s sister by the evil witch Gruntilda, he and his feathery compatriot Kazooie must leave their home at Spiral Mountain to rescue her, simple right?

Wrong. Despite receiving detailed instructions from Bottles the mole on how to use all of Banjo and Kazooie’s abilities, the cartoony platformer is far more challenging than it looks.

Jigsaw pieces complete puzzles in Gruntilda’s lair thus opening new worlds and other secrets but obtaining them can be inconsistent as sometimes they are ten for a penny and others require hours of work to earn a singular piece.

Achieving each goal on every level is massively challenging and requires hours of dedication if the player is seeking perfection but this provides a more rewarding experience and a bigger sense of achievement.

Each world throws up different enemies and challenges that require unique abilities to conquer. From living sea mines to angry termites to clams that eat your items, there is seemingly no enemy that the bear-bird combo cannot deal with.

Banjo can use basic attacks such as punching and rolling but Kazooie assists him in more imaginative ways where the bear struggles. She can run up steep hills whilst carrying Banjo, fire eggs out of her mouth and utilise two types of feathers to help explore each world.

There is plenty of juvenile humour throughout the dialogue; the amusing banter often occurs between Kazooie and other NPCs the player meets on their travels. Despite Bottles being so helpful he is often on the receiving end of insults like ‘bogeyes’, ‘specky’ and even the creative ‘bottle boy’.

Banjo-Kazooie retains the classic formula of collecting items by accomplishing tasks to progress through the game and reach the final goal but it’s in the differences to other platformers where the N64 legend really excels.

The youthful themes and music combined with the juvenile humour of character interaction makes the game’s environment extremely inviting. Each colourful world has a specific theme and provides unique enemies and challenges, which require all of the player’s initiative and keeps gameplay fresh right until the end.