Reviewed by Ha Kung Wong
Many have likened Banjo Kazooie (BK) to a new and improved Super Mario 64.
They point to the similarities in objectives (gathering jiggies instead of stars) and
the similarity in game play (moving from world to world and collecting a certain
amount of these objects to move on -- stars in Super Mario 64 and jiggies in BK. And of course,
many of the moves are very similar and the camera angle controls are the same.
However, the similarities stop there. This game is far more than a simple upgrade
to Super Mario 64. The worlds are larger, the graphics are smoother and much more detailed,
and the rumble pack has been integrated into play. We'll take each portion in order,
but it should be warned, this game could be the best for the N64 yet.
Graphics 10 out of 10
Outstanding!! The smooth fluid motion of all the characters (not just Banjo and Kazooie)
make this a real delight to play. No pauses, not seams, and not strangely angular
characters! The light sourcing is excellent as even when looking into the sky at
certain angles, one can see the sun light streaming down. The water is the most
realistic I've seen in any game. The reaction to characters and the smooth exterior
of all water falls and pools make you want to towel off every time you jump in!! And
the amazing detail in the environment. Sometimes it's worth going to the first look
mode just to admire the surroundings. Colorful and wonderful, there is hardly any
pixelation when you get close to any objects. It really shows off what the N64 can do.
Music and Sound 9 out of 10
It's happy when your exploring, its scary when you're in trouble, it's just plain fun!
It's just enough so that nothing is excessively quiet, yet it doesn't intrude and
become annoying. However, the horns, as in almost every N64 game, can use some
improvement. Watching the intro will treat you to a little musical performance by
Banjo and friends. Although a little too light at times, for the most part, it's great.
Game Challenge 9 out of 10
Yikes!! It's harder than it looks! Not only do you have to gather at least 94 of the
100 jigsaw pieces from 10 different worlds, you also have to make sure you collect
enough music notes to continue to the next section of the game (I believe the first
section requiring 120 and the second requiring 280, etc.). It's tough to find everything,
and requires some true skill to navigate underwater. In fat, the reverse controls
underwater might be its worse feature. Also, the inability at some points to change
angles underwater can cause serious problems, especially in Clanker's Cavern. All I
can say is good luck. There are many moves you'll have to learn in this
game and rest assured all of them will be required for victory.
Game Play-Fun 9 out of 10
If you like 3-D adventure platformers then you'll love this. For example, if you liked
Super Mario 64, or for you PlayStation owners, Croc, Jersey Devil, Rascals, or the
upcoming Spyro, or for those Saturn owners, Croc, or that short Sonic 3-D level on
Sonic Jams, you're going to love this. But beware, this is a thinking game 70% of the
time and an action game 30% of the time. You have to be willing to think through some
puzzles (although not too much tricker than Super Mario 64 puzzles) along with beating up enemies
and running around obstacles.
Rumble Pak 6 out of 10
Although I was very excited to see another game ready to utilize my rumble pack, I
was kinda disappointed in it's use. For about half an hour in, I didn't even realize
the rumble pack was plugged in. For the most part, you only get a rumble when
hitting an enemy, being hit by an enemy, falling, or butt slamming (or to be more
accurate, beak slamming). Otherwise, it serves no real purpose. On the up side, it
doesn't detract from the game at all and is welcome addition to the 3-D platformer.
Supposedly, Nintendo has released a SM64 version in Britain and Japan which utilize
the rumble pack. Like many magazines over there have said, it doesn't add anything but
if you have the choice, you might as well have it (if nothing else, to make yourself feel
better about spending $20 on the rumble pack).
As noted before, the swimming controls are very awkward and the camera is very
difficult, and sometimes impossible, to control in some underwater sequences. Also,
if you die on a level, you have to start collecting musical notes all over again as well
as the Jinjos (the equivalent to the red stars in Super Mario 64). Do you know how terribly
frustrating it is to die with 94 stars and have to start over from 0 or to get 4 of the
5 jinjos and start over from 0? Of course, your level high for notes is saved, but
sometimes a couple extra notes is all you need to go on and now instead of grabbing
a couple extra, you have to grab everything you grabbed before plus the couple extra
you need. Also, with some thin passage ways, the analog controls almost seem too
touchy. Strange since that was what the analog control was designed to get rid of.
Lastly, it can get frustrating when all you need is one more jigsaw on that level and
you been roaming it for hours. But in the end, most of this can be considered an
addition to the overall challenge of the game.
Replayability 5 out of 10
Once you're done, you're done. At least as far as I know. I can see firing this up to
show some friends how great it is after I finish, but I can't see doing it all over again
just for the heck of it.
Game Value 9 out of 10
At $49.99 (which is Nintendo's suggested retail price) you can't go wrong. It's a
solid game that will take you well over 20 hours to finish (or shorter if you have
a guide book, currently only one exists published by Nintendo). Compared to all
those other N64 games coming out at $59.99 +, this one is a real steal.
Ages 5 and Under / Ages 6 to 10 2/5 out of 10
Don't bother, they'll never get it. Too complicated for them. You have a prococious kid
you say? Go for it! Otherwise go get some beanie babies or something instead.
Ages 11 and up 9 out of 10
Get it now!!! What are you waiting for!! Do it!! Do it now!!!
Overall 9 out of 10
Well well, you made it through the review. Well stop wasting time and go out and
pick up a copy. Amaze your friends with the graphics and gameplay and amaze
yourself with how much you can enjoy a story about a bear who walks around with a
bird in his backpack. Very weird. But seriously, this game leaves nothing to chance.
Even the game save screen has three different scenes, plus two different starting
animations. The detail and depth is amazing, it could be longer, it could be better
implemented with the rumble pack, it rocks nonetheless. You won't regret it.