Banjo-Kazooie was dubbed Rare’s “Mario killer” for the fact that it proposed to do everything Super Mario 64 could do, but better. In many ways, Banjo-Kazooie does just that: the worlds are larger and more involved, the textures more detailed, and the gameplay has just as much depth. There’s no doubting that Banjo-Kazooie is a jewel of the Nintendo 64, and it’s about as good as 3D platformers come.

A simple country bear, Banjo, is on a mission to rescue his sister from the evil witch Gruntilda. It’s a rough world, full of hazards and Gruntilda’s baddies, but a country bear can survive. Banjo can perform rolls and high jumps, and his avian sidekick Kazooie shoots eggs and can learn other abilities like the Talon Trot to increase the pair’s maneuverability. There are nine levels, each with a set number of collectibles and objectives, and you are awarded puzzle pieces (Jiggies) for meeting goals. To open up new levels, you must collect Jiggies and find the corresponding portals in Gruntilda’s Lair, which acts as a central hub. The levels are all well designed and interesting: you’ll visit beaches, swamps, mountains, and deserts. You’ll even scale a giant tree, and you really start to appreciate how Banjo-Kazooie pushes the capabilities of the hardware when you’re looking down from above. The game draws elaborate worlds without sacrificing performance: the framerate is consistent, the controls smooth and responsive. Occasionally, the camera angles will go rogue and lead to accidental deaths, but that’s typical for any 3D platformer, even the almighty Super Mario 64. Which brings us back to the question: is this the “Mario killer?” I actually believe they complete each other. Where Banjo-Kazooie is an open-world adventure, Super Mario 64 is more of an adrenaline rush. No collection is complete without both.

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Author: wyldephang
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Parent Category: Nintendo
Category: N64