Banjo-Tooie (Nintendo 64) Review

By Ross Morley 26.08.2003

Review for Banjo-Tooie on Nintendo 64

Two years have passed since Gruntilda the witch was finally defeated by Banjo and Kazooie. But as the duo are playing cards with friends Mumbo Jumbo and Bottles the mole one night, the evil old bag’s sisters show up at her grave. Using their combined magic, they blast the boulder sealing her in, thus freeing her. She looks a little feeble, what with having no skin and all, but when they spot bone faced Mumbo Jumbo spying on them, she shows that her powers are still just as potent. She turns her attention on Banjo’s house, but fortunately, Banjo and the others have already got out – save that is, for Bottles (who’s not the brightest of moles), who decided not to believe Mumbo’s warning. Needless to say, he gets blasted into oblivion by Grunty’s magic spell. Banjo and Kazooie are not best pleased with this tragic event, and so once again they swear revenge on the bony old hag…

Banjo Tooie follows in the footsteps of predecessor Banjo Kazooie in that it’s fine platforming action from the strong lead characters. Spread across nine worlds, you must try and collect as many of the ninety ‘jiggies’ as you can. As is the case in all good platform / adventure games this will mean thorough exploration, talking to many different characters, and generally making the most of the moves at your disposal and your skill as a gamer.

In terms of controlling the characters this is much the same as Banjo Kazooie, with the one sparklingly obvious difference being that they can now split up and explore an area individually. Naturally each character has their own set of moves which can only be used when they are alone, but of course, teamed up they usually function better. To separate in the first place you have to come across a special pad, so exploring with Kazooie on her own isn’t possible by simply pressing a button. Banjo and Kazooie have a very high number of moves between them, an aspect of the game that shines.

Screenshot for Banjo-Tooie on Nintendo 64

The strange looking Mumbo Jumbo appears as a playable character this time round. Usually the best thing to do when in control of this shaman is to run to magic pads as fast as you can, before you get beaten – he isn’t the toughest of characters. His magic spells are crucial to your progress, as are the transformations of Humba Wumba. The other important character in the game (along with Jamjars who will help you with all your moves), this sorceress resides in her colourful wigwam, waiting for the bear ‘n’ bird to find her. She has the power to turn you into such odd things as a washing machine and a bumblebee. Obviously, because of their abilities, these will often help fulfil the wishes of many of the game’s characters (for example, the washing machine will be handy when you meet someone who wants their clothes washed).

The Isle O’ Hags acts as a hub area of sorts, as although it links to each of the worlds there are many sections of it all completely spread out. We think that the design of Banjo Tooie is superb throughout. When you find it hard to pick out your favourite worlds from the game, it’s a sure sign that they are close to equal in quality. Cheato pages, honeycombs, Jinjos (never mind what these are, just know you’ll need to collect them), and even jamjars the mole are all cleverly hidden through nine worlds full of platforming goodness and aesthetical beauty. Graphically everything is rich and detailed, slightly let down by the strangely poor frame rate at certain points. Still, animation is fun to watch, and the areas deserve to be admired.

Screenshot for Banjo-Tooie on Nintendo 64

In a move that somewhat breaks the trend in this genre, Banjo Tooie features a number of four player mini games. Although they are also featured in the main game at certain points, they can provide a good rest from your platforming antics. ‘But how good are they with friends?’ we hear you ask. Well, unfortunately, they certainly aren’t classic multiplayer material. In fact, the lastability and even overall quality of these mini games is often questionable.

Banjo Tooie benefits from not taking itself too seriously. For a start, Kazooie will always be around to poke fun of other characters in any way possible. Even the boss fights are a laugh, as unlike other game’s bosses, they are designed to make the battles fun and comical. The sounds they make, the way they look and the way they fight will put a smile on your face. Normal baddies too, look pretty clumsy. Make no mistake though; they may deal out some serious damage if you’re not on the ball.

Screenshot for Banjo-Tooie on Nintendo 64

The reason that Banjo Tooie plays so damn well is that it is everything a title of the genre should be. From reading through what we’ve said already you’ve probably gathered that we like this game, but we’re yet to point out the variation, and the size of the thing. The work you must do to get a jiggy differs so drastically it’s almost insane. You’ll need new techniques, that can often be found in other worlds, meaning there’s backtracking to do, but it never feels like too much trouble. The claiming of a single jiggy often requires a lot of work, testing you in terms of your brainpower, and your strength to fight off enemies. Solving the woe of a character will mean thinking ‘Will I need to split them up, will I need help from Mumbo or Wumba, might I even be needing a new move?’ It’s all strung superbly together with brilliantly designed areas and cleverly placed humour.

The other thing to think about is the collecting aspect of this game. Cheato pages, Jinjos and honeycombs are the things that immediately come to mind. This is a massive game that’s great fun, well put together and genuinely a masterpiece.

Screenshot for Banjo-Tooie on Nintendo 64

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

We may now have partly forgotten about the whole Rare calamity, but as we go back to take a look at some retro titles this summer, we’re reminded that we really do miss them. We’d have loved to have seen Banjo Threeie…

Developer

Rare

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (6 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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