Bear and bird are born again. With Banjo & Kazooie's first Xbox 360 title introducing a new generation to gaming's frontrunners in the 'conjoined mammal/bird duo' field, it seemed a good time to revisit and polish up their first title. So for nostalgic veterans and curious new adventurers alike, it's back to Spiral Mountain we go...
First there was Dream, then Banjo Kazoo, and finally – once we'd settled on the lead characters and remembered to run a trademark check – Banjo-Kazooie. The year was 1998, character-driven 3D adventures were the Next Big Thing, and people seemed to like what we'd come up with.
Telling the familiar tale of a laid-back Honey Bear, his rather more outgoing Red Crested Breegull associate and a witch obsessed with rhyming couplets who'd abducted the bear's liability of a sister to steal her alleged good looks, Banjo-Kazooie provided gamers with enough action, exploration, transformation and (yes, alright) item collection to keep them going for a good long while. It fired up imaginations, took players on a tour of unusually vivid worlds, introduced a host of much-loved characters, and further sweetened the deal with a liberal helping of comedy.
And now it's back. 10 years on, to coincide with the bear and bird returning for a third full-scale console expedition in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, their debut in the original Banjo-Kazooie has been given a current-gen polish by 4J Studios and steered in the direction of Xbox LIVE Arcade for Banjo fans old and new to savour.
Everything that players of the time loved about the game is still in place, and one or two things that they didn't (cough, Stop 'n' Swop) have been tweaked for best results in 2008. An audiovisual makeover is complemented by all the trappings of an XBLA release, including leaderboards and a brand new set of Achievements. Those inclined to lay down the pennies can rest assured that they'll be paying for a substantial amount of content and gaming time.
So whether you're new to the whole Banjo business, coming in eager for more off the back of Nuts & Bolts, or simply a lapsed fan of the bear and bird wishing to tread the warm sands of Treasure Trove Cove one more time, we wanted to let you know that Banjo-Kazooie has finally made it to Xbox LIVE Arcade. Sample it at your leisure, and we hope you enjoy the experience.
- Platforms: Xbox 360
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Developer: Rare/4J Studios
- Released: 2008-12-03
- Game Rating: US: E | EU: 3+
- 1 Player
- In-game Dolby Digital
- Custom Soundtracks
- HDTV 1080p
At last, the dirty green and blue smog was beginning to clear. Gruntilda stood at the topmost window of her Lair, grinning wickedly down on her newly discovered world like a thundercloud before a storm.
"Tiny creatures far below," she cackled, "which of you'll be first to go?"
The witch rubbed her hands in glee at the prospect of becoming even more lovely than she already was. Landing somewhere new was always exciting – and judging by all the puffing and clanking coming from the next room, it seemed as if her greatest invention felt the same way. And what an invention! A machine that could suck out the physical beauty from its victims, ready for Grunty to absorb like a sponge!
She rubbed the graceful curve of her chin with pride. Nobody else would even have dreamed of creating such a marvellous thing, she thought. Least of all her pretty sister, Brentilda. How dare that interfering do-gooder inherit the family good looks? How dare she be born with a face so angelic when Gruntilda had always been... well... slightly disadvantaged in that department?
But thanks to her mechanical pride and joy in the next room, Gruntilda knew that all that would soon change. At last she could become beautiful beyond her wildest dreams!
Picking her nose in a particularly smug manner, the witch turned her attention away from the window to the bubbling cauldron nearby, and began to cast the truth spell – a spell which, she thought, would confirm her place as the most wonderfully attractive creature in the land...
Meanwhile, Tooty skipped home through the fields of Spiral Mountain, having spent a carefree couple of hours piping tunes for the forest animals. Now it was time for another weary attempt at rousing her bed-bound brother.
Just as the cosy house that she shared with Banjo and Kazooie came into view up ahead, Tooty slowed down to watch a nearby molehill tremble, splutter and sprout a pair of blurry eyes that could only belong to her good friend Bottles.
"Morning, Tooty," he blinked as his round body came out of the hole with a pop. "And what are your plans for the day?"
Tooty bounced on the spot as his words reminded her of Banjo's promise. "Oh! I'm going to get my lazy brother out of bed, and we're going on an adventure..."
Bottles smiled absent-mindedly. "That'll be nice," he said, then squinted up into the sky over her shoulder. "Hey, isn't that your brother up there?"
Tooty turned to look, and saw an odd shape swooping down towards them at high speed. "No, I don't think that's Banjo," she said, frowning. "I wonder who it could be..."
Sweeter than me? Prettier than me? Impossible!
Gruntilda was so furious that she wasn't concentrating on flying her broomstick, and had to pull up sharply as her boots clipped the top of a fence. This just made her even angrier, and she found herself screeching abuse at thin air.
"As cute as me, you stupid pot? For her own sake, I hope she's not!" The witch zoomed recklessly on through the skies until her intended target came into view: the unnecessarily cute young bear staring up at her from the field far below.
Gruntilda snorted. "I need those looks far more than she, and finally perfect I shall be!" With a loud scream and a cackle, the witch took aim and sent the broomstick into a dive.
Kazooie popped out of the backpack in alarm as noise erupted just outside the window. "Banjo! Banjo!" she squawked, recognising two of the three yelling voices as those of Tooty and Bottles. "Hey, wake up!"
The Honey Bear groaned and pulled the pillow over his head. "Aww, leave me alone, Kazooie, it's too early," came his muffled voice.
"This is no time to be lazy!" trilled the Breegull, her anxious fidgeting causing the backpack to swing to and fro on the hatstand. "We've got trouble! Pull yourself together!"
Banjo groaned again, rolled over, and was about to say something else when Kazooie's struggles proved too much for the supporting stand, toppling it onto the floor with a crash and an undignified squawk.
The Honey Bear jumped out of bed in surprise – just as the curtains flapped open in the backdraft from something launching itself at high speed from his front lawn. And beneath the manic cackling that reached him on the wind came the helpless cries of a voice he recognised... Tooty's!
Banjo gulped and searched the room for his feathered friend, realising that this was definitely going to be one of those days.
"Uh, Kazooie, what are you doing down there?" he said in confusion, snatching up the backpack as he bolted for the door. "This is no time to be lazy – we've got trouble!"
The full list of Xbox 360 Achievements available in Banjo-Kazooie XBLA.
Get Jiggy (10G)
It doesn't matter which two, just successfully collect any two Jiggies.
Mumbo Jumbo (10G)
Get yourself transformed by Mumbo Jumbo for the first time. Now that's magic!
Knock out Nipper (15G)
Come out on top in a dust-up with Nipper the crab. Watch out, he's called Nipper for a reason.
Free Clanker (15G)
Liberate Clanker, Gruntilda's rusty and recalcitrant garbage grinder.
Chomp Chomp! (15G)
They're red and no less than 30 of them need chomping. Nuff said.
Move Master (15G)
Discover and master all Banjo's moves... and Kazooie's... but nobody else's. Unless you insist.
Show me the honey! (15G)
Collect all 24 of the extra honeycomb pieces. Yes! Every single one! It's character-building.
The Quiz Master (20G)
Complete Grunty's Furnace Fun quiz show and win the Star Prize. Been paying attention?
Fear the Jinjonator. If you're a witch, that is. The Jinjonator lays the smack down on witches.
Jigsaw Maker (20G)
Bet you thought jigsaws were boring! Bottles disagrees, and has seven of them to be solved.
Cheating Cheato (20G)
Bump into Grunty's disowned spellbook three times as it hops around the place dishing out cheats.
Music Maestro (25G)
There are 900 musical notes out there in the world of Banjo-Kazooie. Real gamers collect them all...
"Varied worlds, unique challenges, and kooky characters make this old-timer a worthwhile blast from the past." – OXM (US)
"Unlike other classic games, this one wasn't simply emulated and shoved out the door. The graphics have been slightly improved, it now runs in widescreen, and the sound has been remastered. The result is a great re-release that is a wonderful example of a genre that has long since gone out of favor with most gamers." – IGN
"There's enough comic relief and clever level design surrounding the slick team-up moves and animations of Banjo-Kazooie's leading animals to pull it all together into one of the better classic console platformers to grace Xbox Live Arcade." – TeamXbox
"Banjo-Kazooie is a game that stands the test of time thanks to the open-world design, which is a very desirable trait still used by platformers today, such as in the latest Prince of Persia. The game also sports a constantly evolving move set, where players can learn new acrobatic and combat moves from Bottles the mole, adding some complexity and growth to the gameplay that should keep a contemporary audience entertained." – WorthPlaying
"The closest to Mario we'll ever get, and instantly the best classic platform game on the Xbox 360." – Xbox World 360
"The Internet world may have been up in arms over the 1200 points price, but to us we pay for quality, and there is more than enough quality here to ask for such a pricey sum. On a console starved of the genre, Banjo-Kazooie really stands above all the others and for a ten year old N64 game, that's some achievement." – Gamestyle
"This HD version of Rare's classic is like N64 expansion pack gaming on steroids, and by far the best way to play the game." – VideoGamer.com
"So at the end of the day has Banjo-Kazooie aged well? The answer is a resounding yes." – PALGN
"If you want to annoy your roommate, download this game and turn your sound all the way up. Then just run around with Kazooie until you achieve maximum aggravation." – IGN