Does anyone remember that company? You know, the one that brought us awesome, quality games on Nintendo 64? You know, the people that brought us GoldenEye, perhaps the most widely played first-person shooter to date? Yeah, weren’t they named Rareware or something?
Yes, that’s correct. Rareware, as most of you probably remember, brought us many games on N64, such as GoldenEye, Jet Force Gemini, and the ever-popular Perfect Dark. When GameCube appeared on the scene, they almost completely dropped out of existence. They burst back onto the scene a year or two later, with a game named Star Fox Adventures. Making a fairly good showing at E3 this year, Rare has decided to abandon Nintendo for Microsoft. But all that aside, who could forget the glory days of Rare during the Nintendo 64 era? Specifically, who could forget Banjo-Kazooie?
Banjo, a bear, wakes up in his house to find that the evil witch, Gruntilda, has kidnapped his sister, Tootie. Banjo sets off to rescue her with help from Kazooie, his compactable bird friend, Bottles, a mole who tutors Banjo and Kazooie in the way of their special moves, and Mumbo, a shaman who transforms Banjo and Kazooie into an array of different creatures. Our heroes’ adventures are riddled with baddies, musical notes, puzzles, and puzzle pieces, as they make their way through nearly 10 enormous levels. The plot thickens as the game goes on, going from simple kidnapping to a showdown between two mortal enemies. And before it’s all over, you’ll discover that you can find help in the most unlikely of places…
Banjo-Kazooie set the standard for what action-adventure games should be like. The graphics are very good for their time period, and the tunes in the game can get your feet tapping and fingers snapping. One of the biggest flaws in the game comes not during gameplay, but afterwards, when you have collected all 100 Jiggys. Rare had somehow foreseen the game’s popularity (either that or wanted to make sure Nintendo would make a sequel) and put in special scenes from the next game. These scenes include certain unreachable places being opened up and revealing special items such as giant eggs and a big key. However, when Rare produced Banjo-Tooie, the game was not set in Gruntilda’s tower like the first one, but in a completely different locale. Therefore, those cutscenes pretty much meant nothing. Rare tried to salvage it by putting the secret items into “Banjo-Kazooie Cartridges” hidden in Banjo-Tooie, but it was to no avail. Most of the excitement had been about the new areas within the levels, not necessarily the items themselves. Rare made the items activate cheats (they called them “special events”), which, I must admit, are very cool, but the novelty soon wears off.
But all things aside, Banjo-Kazooie is an incredible game! I would highly recommend getting out your old, dusty N64 and playing it right away. You won’t be disappointed.