With every game system comes great games. The Nintendo 64 had it's share of gems but the one that stands out the most in my mind is the often forgotten Banjo-Kazooie.

article image

On May 31st, 1998 the game developer Rare (at the time they were owned by Nintendo but have sense been bought out by Microsoft) released they're platformer Banjo-Kazooie. It became an instant success selling upwards of 2 million copies in it's lifetime and achieved critical acclaim rivaled by that of Super Mario 64.

article image

The game begins with Banjo (the bear) and Kazooie (the bird) both asleep. Banjo's younger sister, Tootie, is outside yelling for Banjo to wake up so they can go on an adventure. Banjo, being the older brother that he is, refuses to get up and remains bedridden. Meanwhile the evil witch, Gruntilda, is up in her castle asking her cauldron who is the prettiest in all the land. When her cauldron , Dingpot, does not say her name but instead says Tootie, Gruntilda becomes enraged and sets off the find Tootie and steal her beauty. Needless to say, Gruntilda steals Tootie away. Banjo wakes up and slips on his backpack that holds Kazooie and heads outside. Bottles the mole, tells Banjo and Kazooie what went down and they both set off the take out Gruntilda and save Tootie.

article image

Banjo-Kazooie plays very much like Super Mario 64 did. Inside the various levels music notes are scattered around much like coins in Super Mario 64. But instead of them being there just for show you must actually collect them for they hold the only way for you to open the various "note doors" in Grunty's castle that are blocking the way to the next level. Puzzle pieces called ,Jiggies, are also scattered among the various levels. These act as the Power Stars did in Super Mario 64. Each level contains 10 Jiggies and you must do "tasks" in order to get them. You are never given hints like in Super Mario 64, you must find them yourself. But don't let that get you down. Most of them you'll come across throughout the levels making you do things from shooting eggs into totem poles to stealing oranges from a gorilla. Jinjos (pictured above in the Rare logo) are around the map and you must save all of them in a level to get a Jiggy.

article image

In most of the levels Bottles will be hidden (or sometimes in plain sight) inside his mole hill. If you talk to him he'll teach you new moves that you can use to get to new areas and get more Jiggies.

article image

Banjo-Kazooie features numorus levels. Here is a list and description of each one. (all were taken straight from wikipedia)

1. Mumbo's Mountain: A small, jungle-themed world where training is the primary purpose. It is home to Conga the Gorilla, termites and Mumbo. In this level, Banjo and Kazooie learn many new techniques through the assistance of Bottles. It is also home to a bull which has relevance later in the game.

2. Treasure Trove Cove: An island that hosts a landlocked ship, the "Salty Hippo", and the nearly-indestructible shark, Snacker, whilst a lighthouse over a massive natural arch dominates the skyline. In this level we are introduced to flying pads, and a character called Blubber who appears in Banjo-Tooie.

3. Clanker's Cavern: A world of flooded caves and disposal pipes. This world is also home to Clanker, a giant, shark type creation used as Gruntilda's garbage disposal, the majority of the jiggies to be found involve this shark in various ways, shapes, and forms.

4. Bubblegloop Swamp: A swamp with piranha infested waters dangerous to Banjo and Kazooie, it's home to a giant fake crocodile and live turtle. Inside the turtle are Tiptup and his turtle choir, the fake crocodile meanwhile houses a greedy crocodile named Mr. Vile.

5. Freezeezy Peak: A snowy, mountainous world with a giant snowman in the center with a winter holiday theme, home to the twinklies, evil snowmen and Boggy's family who also appear in Banjo-Tooie. It also holds the infamous ice key.

6.Gobi's Valley: An Egyptian-themed desert world named after the camel Gobi, containing pyramids, quicksand, and a bear-modeled sphinx.

7. Mad Monster Mansion: A horror-based world featuring frightening themes such as a haunted house, ghosts, and tombstones, and also contains a toilet named Loggo.

8. Rusty Bucket Bay: A world centered around a large cargo ship called the H.M.S. Gruntilda (also known as the Rusty Bucket), afloat in polluted water which doubles the speed of Banjo and Kazooie drowning. The port is surrounded by warehouses which house various useful items.

9. Click Clock Wood: Centered around a giant tree in a forest, four different doors will allow Banjo and Kazooie to enter the world through four seasons in this classic level.

Banjo-Kazooie stayed in the publics eye for a long time. Not because it was the best N64 game to come in a long time (that was part of the reason though) but because of all the secrets it held. Many people who still remember the game today still get chills when they read up these secrets. Rare was notorious for throwing in little easter eggs here and there in there games to keep us playing for weeks on end. But the most notorious of all these secrets was the Stop 'N' Swap. Rare announced that special areas and items in the game could only be reached by completing certain tasks in its sequel, Banjo-Tooie. It was later discovered that Banjo-Kazooie contains seven special items which can be accessed using in-game cheat codes or by using a cheat cartridge. These items would then be viewable in a menu entitled "Stop 'N' Swop".

article image

After the completion of the game Mumbo Jumbo (a shaman who changes you into various creatures in certain levels of the game) shows you pictures of areas that you must go to next. But when you go to these places there is nothing. The most recognizable of them all is the Ice Key that can be found in Freezeezy Peak in the walruses cave that no matter what you do you can't get to. In 2005, a patent filed by Rare was discovered which suggests that Stop 'N' Swop involved swapping cartridges with the power off to transfer data. The information would be momentarily retained by utilizing the Rambus memory in the Nintendo 64. As a result of changes done to the Nintendo 64 systems produced in 1999, the system could no longer do this effectively.

In 2007 the British magazine called, Retro Gamer, was told by Rare employees that in Banjo-Kazooie 3 the details of the Stop 'N' Swop feater will finally be revealed. Thus all our speculations will be put to rest and the truth will be revealed.

I think that about does it for this retrospective of my favorite game of all time, Banjo-Kazooie. I hope you had fun reading it and I hope you read my next article about it's sequel, Banjo-Tooie.

NOTICE: I did take some sentences from Wikipedia but only because if I were to say them they would have come out the same way with only a few words changed.