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Platform

Nintendo 64

 

Genre

Platformer

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Rare

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2000

 

 

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Banjo Tooie

 

banjo-tooie-1.jpg (16704 bytes)          banjo-tooie-2.jpg (21216 bytes)

Two years ago Banjo and Kazooie triumphed over the malevolent Grunthilda, managing to bury her under a big boulder. The peace and tranquility of Spiral Mountain is shattered with the appearance of Grunthildaís sisters, Mingella and Blobbelda, who rescue their sister and immediately start causing havoc. They have developed a machine that sucks the life force out of living things and they hope to use it to restore Grunthilda to her original bulk (two years of being buried alive having reduced her to a skeleton). Banjo, Kazooie and, everyoneís favorite shaman, Mumbo Jumbo must team up to save the world, collecting Jiggies, Jinjos and music notes along the way.

Banjo-Tooie is a good example of how to make a sequel: keep everything that made the first game so much fun and add features that people asked for. This feels like Banjo-Kazooie but itís a distinct entity. There are a few little touches noticeable right from the start. For one, Banjoís backpack bounces up and down. This is a polish that many sequels would not have even considered. But there are huge improvements in gameplay and character control.

 

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Thankfully, this time out Banjo has access to warp pads within levels and silos outside the levels that make getting around the Isle oí Hags a simple matter. They are a huge improvement over the warp cauldrons of the first game, especially the warp pads within the levels. Some of the levels are really big and occasionally youíll get turned around or lost. Finding a warp pad to reorient yourself is very helpful considering thereís no auto map. The camera has been held 

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over from Banjo-Kazooie and acts fairly well 94% percent of the time. The remaining 6% of the time thereís something in the way, 1% of that at a very critical moment. This is about the same as the first game. Also held over are the many moves that Banjo and Kazooie can perform. New moves are learned from Jam Jars, the brother of Bottles, who is a military mole. And there are a lot of new moves. Banjo learns to (finally) grab onto ledges and pull himself up. Kazooie can perform the Bill Drill, a super-powered Beak Buster, which can obliterate rocks. (There are so many different moves I had to consult the manual several times.) Some of the moves are character specific since Banjo and Kazooie can now separate. For example, Banjo can fit into his own backpack and Kazooie can fly around on her own. Separating is handled well, much like the Fly Pads, or any other Pad. The separating pads are usually located in convenient spots so you donít have to cross half a level just to complete a task. Remember trying to get each frigginí Jinjo again and again? Itís in the past now. Once youíve rescued a Jingo (and you save your game), it stays rescued! Ditto for musical notes.

The most startling difference from its predecessor is the first person shooter sections. For gamers that experienced Goldeneye and Perfect Dark (both Rare games) getting into the groove is no problem, the controls are much the same. The newbie gamer may be left behind. During the FPS sections Banjo holds Kazooie like a gun, and instead of firing bullets Kazooie shoots eggs. There are different types of eggs to get, including a fire egg that provides some neat lighting effects in dark areas. (These eggs can also be used outside the FPS levels.) The FPS sections arenít difficult but it provides a little break from the usual.

banjo-tooie          banjo-tooie

Since Banjo-Tooie falls into the adventure genre, puzzles abound and most are very well executed. A lot of the puzzles require player switching. For example: in Mayahem Temple you must get control of Mumbo then head down the hill to a buried gold statue where Mumbo can employ a powerful spell to resurrect the gold man. Once the giant gold man has been activated you get to control him for a limited time. His moves are limited, jump and kick, but heís essential to accessing other areas of the level. Itís all about teamwork! Also present is the chance to be transformed courtesy of Humba Wumba, a new female character and bodacious shaman on the Isle oí Hags. The transformations range from wild to crazy. My favorite is the Daddy Rex. Make sure youíve got your sound system cranked to get the most out of the roar.

The sound and graphics are excellent. There are some instances of framerate slow down but this mainly happens when big sections of the level are in view. Overall, the environments are detailed, full of colour, imaginative and consistent with what weíve come to expect from the dedicated folks at Rare. Time and care has been put into creating good-looking characters, too. The music is topnotch and it flows easily from one area to the next.

There is multiplayer included, which uses the FPS view and lets you take control of most of the characters found in the single player game. It uses the same method as Rareís other FPS games: split screen and quarter screen. If you have a big TV itís no problem figuring out whatís going on. Overall, itís on the same level of enjoyment as the multiplayer games in Goldeneye or Perfect Dark.

Banjo-Tooie is another "must have" game for N64 owners. Itís fun to play and provides enough depth to keep hardcore and newbie gamers going for a long time. While there are a few quibbles (sometimes odd camera, no auto map), better graphics, more moves, funny character dialogue, warp pads and interesting and challenging puzzles all equal a great game, not to mention a great sequel.

I canít wait to see what kind of trouble Banjo, Kazooie and Mumbo get up to on the Gamecube!

- Omni

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