Banjo-Kazooie is a platform video game developed by Rare and originally released for the Nintendo 64 console in 1998. It is the first game in the Banjo-Kazooie series and follows the story of a bear, Banjo, and a bird, Kazooie, as they try to stop the plans of the witch Gruntilda, who intends to switch her beauty with Banjo's sister, Tooty. The game features nine nonlinear worlds where the player must use Banjo and Kazooie's wide range of abilities to gather jigsaw pieces. It features challenges like solving puzzles, jumping over obstacles, collecting items, and defeating opponents.
Microsoft Game Studios (Xbox 360)
|Platform(s)||Nintendo 64, Xbox 360|
Originally conceived as an adventure game named Dream for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Banjo-Kazooie was designed to appeal to players of all ages in a similar vein to Walt Disney Animation Studios films. The game was a critical and commercial success, selling nearly two million copies in the United States. It was praised for its detailed graphics, immersive sound, and intricate level design. In 1999, it received two awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences: Console Action Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Art/Graphics. The game was remastered for the Xbox 360 in 2008 and included in the Rare Replay video game compilation for the Xbox One in 2015. A sequel, Banjo-Tooie, was released in 2000.
Banjo-Kazooie is a single-player platform game where the player controls the protagonists Banjo and Kazooie from a third-person perspective. The game features nine worlds where the player must gather musical notes and jigsaw pieces, called Jiggies, to progress. The player transits from one world to another through Gruntilda's Lair, a region that acts as the game's central overworld. Jiggies allow the player to complete jigsaw puzzles which open doors to new worlds, while musical notes allow the player to access new areas of the overworld containing more advanced worlds. Like Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie is very open and allows the player to collect Jiggies and musical notes in a nonlinear order. It is also possible to complete certain worlds out of order, assuming the player has enough Jiggies and musical notes to reach a more advanced world earlier than intended.
Each world is composed of a number of challenges that involve solving puzzles, jumping over obstacles, gathering objects, and defeating opponents. The game features action-adventure elements, and players often have to interact with non-player characters and help them. It is also possible to increase Banjo and Kazooie's health bar by collecting extra honeycombs throughout the game. Banjo and Kazooie can perform a wide range of abilities, such as jumping, climbing, swimming, flying, and rolling into enemies. These moves are learned by finding their friend, Bottles the mole, throughout the game. Some moves require specific items to be performed; for instance, red feathers allow Banjo and Kazooie to fly, while gold feathers protect them from damage. Some items allow the pair to gain temporary abilities in a particular moment; for instance, the Turbo Trainer shoes provide a speed burst used to reach a destination on time. Additionally, found in each world are small creatures called Jinjos that, upon collection of the entire world's population, grant the duo a Jiggy.
Banjo and Kazooie are occasionally aided by their friend Mumbo Jumbo, a shaman who can use magical powers to transform them into several creatures. These include a termite, a pumpkin, a honey bee, a walrus, and a crocodile. Creatures have their own abilities and allow the player to access areas that were previously inaccessible. Before a transformation process is allowed, the player must find a required number of "Mumbo Tokens" in the worlds. The game also includes cheats codes which can be unlocked by finding Gruntilda's spellbook, Cheato.
In a region called Spiral Mountain, a foul-tempered witch named Gruntilda learns from her cauldron, Dingpot, that Tooty, a brown honey bear, is more beautiful than her. Jealous, Gruntilda creates a machine to transfer a person's beauty to another, which she intends to use with Tooty. Gruntilda kidnaps Tooty while her older brother, Banjo, is sleeping. Banjo's friend Kazooie, a female red-crested "Breegull," wakes him up and the two resolve to rescue Tooty. While Banjo and Kazooie collect musical notes and Jiggies to traverse through Gruntilda's Lair, they are aided by Bottles, a mole who is Tooty's friend, and Mumbo Jumbo, a shaman who used to be Gruntilda's teacher, and rescue Jinjos, small creatures that Gruntilda imprisoned in each world.
Having gathered most of the musical notes and Jiggies, Banjo and Kazooie participate in a trivia game show hosted by Gruntilda, where they answer questions and challenges related to certain aspects of the game. Once they win the game, Banjo and Kazooie retrieve Tooty and celebrate with their friends and a barbecue, but Tooty reminds everyone that Gruntilda has escaped. Banjo and Kazooie enter the top of the lair, where they confront Gruntilda. A fierce battle ensues, but with the help of the Jinjos they rescued, the duo send Gruntilda falling towards Spiral Mountain, where she gets trapped beneath a boulder. Banjo and Kazooie go on vacation at a beach with their friends and celebrate their victory. Gruntilda swears revenge against Banjo and Kazooie, calling for her henchman, Klungo, to move the boulder.
The origins of Banjo-Kazooie can be traced back to Project Dream, a cancelled video game developed by Rare's Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest team for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Inspired by Japanese role-playing games and LucasArts adventure games, Dream was developed for 16 months and starred a boy named Edison who would get into trouble with a group of pirates. The game used Rare's Advanced Computer Modeling (ACM) graphics technology, first used in Donkey Kong Country, to an advanced level. As development progressed, Edison was replaced by a rabbit and later a bear, who would eventually become Banjo. Because the introduction of the Nintendo 64 made the ACM technology obsolete, Rare decided to transition the development of the game to that console. The project proved to be too ambitious for the developers, who felt the game was not fun. After early versions of Rare's Conker's Bad Fur Day proved satisfactory, the company decided to retool Dream into a Donkey Kong-esque platformer. However, when Rare realized that Super Mario 64 was going to set the standard for 3D games, making their project look outdated, the company ultimately scrapped all work on Dream to produce a new game featuring Banjo.
Actual work on Banjo-Kazooie started in March 1997 with a development team of 10 people. As development progressed, the team grew to a total of 15 members, which included seven engineers, five artists, two designers and one musician. The team comprised both experienced and inexperienced people; some had been working at Rare for 10 years while others had never previously worked on a video game. Gregg Mayles served as the head designer. The 3D world of Super Mario 64 was a major inspiration for Banjo-Kazooie, as Rare intended to combine it with the look of Donkey Kong Country. The game was designed to appeal players of all ages in a similar vein to Walt Disney Animation Studios films. According to Rare, "We wanted the characters to primarily appeal to a younger audience but, at the same time, give them enough humour and attitude not to discourage older players." The music of the game, composed by Grant Kirkhope, was designed to gradually fade from one style to the next without pause, while the overall composition loops continuously.
Rare decided to make an action-based game that focused totally on Banjo and his abilities. Kazooie was later conceived during the planning of such abilities. According to Mayles, "We came up with the [...] idea that a pair of wings could appear from his backpack to help him perform a second jump. We also wanted Banjo to be able to run very fast when required [so] we added a pair of 'fast-running' legs that appeared from the bottom of the backpack. [And soon after] we came up with the logical conclusion that these could belong to another character, one that actually lived in Banjo's backpack." The character was named after a kazoo, which was considered an annoying instrument, "much like the personality of the bird," Mayles explained. Instead of actual dialogue, all the characters in the game feature "mumbling" voices. This choice was made to convey their personalities without them actually speaking, as Rare felt the actual speech "could ruin the player's perception of the characters." The witch Gruntilda was inspired by Grotbags from the Grotbags British television series.
Banjo-Kazooie employs an advanced technique to render its graphics. The in-game characters were created with minimal amounts of texturing so they could have a sharp and clean look, while the backgrounds use very large textures split into 64×64 pieces, which was the largest texture size the Nintendo 64 could render. Because this technique caused significant memory fragmentation issues, the developers created a proprietary system that could "reshuffle" memory as players played through the game. According to lead programmer Chris Sutherland, "I'd doubt many [Nintendo 64] games of the time did anything like that". The fact that the player could be transformed into small creatures was implemented to give some of the worlds a different sense of scale.
Rare originally planned to include a multiplayer mode and more worlds in the game, but these features were not implemented due to time constraints; some of these would later be included in the sequel Banjo-Tooie instead. In addition, a feature called "Stop 'N' Swop," which would have allowed data to be transferred between both Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, remains incomplete in the game. The feature was never fully implemented due to technical difficulties in the Nintendo 64 hardware. The development of the game took overall 17 months to complete after Rare discarded Project Dream, the first two of these being spent experimenting with Dream's graphic technology. In June 1997, a working version of the game was shown at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, where it was officially announced that Dream had become Banjo-Kazooie. The game was initially scheduled for a release in late 1997 but was ultimately delayed. It was released on 29 June 1998 in North America, 17 July 1998 in Europe, and 6 December 1998 in Japan.
Banjo-Kazooie was a critical and commercial success, selling more than 1.8 million copies in the United States and more than 405,000 units in Japan. At the 1999 Milia festival in Cannes, it took home a "Gold" prize for revenues above €26 million in the European Union during the previous year. GamePro described Banjo-Kazooie as a "more complex, more fluid, and more attractive game than its plumber predecessor Super Mario 64. It's sure to have even the staunchest [Nintendo 64] critics raising their eyebrows." Writing for IGN, journalist Peer Schneider felt that Banjo-Kazooie was "the best 3D platformer [he has] ever played, and a more than worthy successor to Super Mario 64". James Ashton of N64 Magazine highlighted the game's length, noting that the game can take 40 or 50 hours to fully complete.
The graphics were seen as one of the strongest aspects of the game. Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot wrote: "graphically, Banjo-Kazooie takes it to another level. The game maintains the look and feel of Mario 64, but instead of flat, shaded polygons, [Banjo-Kazooie] uses a lot of textures". The game's long draw distance, solid frame rate, special lighting, transparency effects, and animations were also highlighted very positively. Critics also praised the game's dynamic soundtrack. Schneider remarked that it "lets players know where they are going. This happens all the time and in every level. It's all very Disney-esque." The sound effects received similar praise, with several editors crediting the unique and diverse speech patterns of the characters.
The game was often called a Super Mario 64 clone for its similarity in gameplay. Gerstmann felt that Banjo-Kazooie "doesn't stray too far from the formula, but it makes the logical progressions you would expect Nintendo to make." Game Informer observed that, while both games are very similar, Banjo-Kazooie has less emphasis on the platforming and more on exploration. Next Generation highlighted the game's depth and detail, stating that Super Mario 64 "looks naked and aged in comparison." Colin Williamson of AllGame stated similar pros, crediting the level design as "simply delightful, loaded with creativity, secrets, and memorable characters." Nintendo Power remarked that the game's puzzles were fresh and that the characters "have more of a loud-mouthed attitude than Mario and crew. One habitually-criticized aspect of the game was its flawed camera system. Game Revolution remarked that it can occasionally be in a bad angle to gauge a jump properly, while Edge said that its fixed position in underwater sections can be frustrating while retrieving collectables.
In 1999, Banjo-Kazooie received two awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences: Console Action Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Art/Graphics. Similarly, IGN awarded the game Overall Best Graphics of 1998, Best Texture Design of 1998, and Best Music of 1998.
A sequel, Banjo-Tooie, was released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000 and largely adopts the gameplay mechanics of its predecessor. The Banjo-Kazooie series continued to be developed with the release of Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge and Banjo-Pilot for the Game Boy Advance in 2003 and 2005, respectively. The characters Banjo and Kazooie proved to be popular and were once seen as a potential mascot for the Xbox 360 console. A third main game, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, was released for the Xbox 360 in 2008. Nuts & Bolts is a departure from its predecessors and involves the player building vehicles of all shapes and sizes to complete challenges.
An Xbox Live Arcade version of Banjo-Kazooie, developed by 4J Studios, was released for the Xbox 360 on 26 November 2008. This version runs in a full widescreen mode, includes achievements, and supports the "Stop 'N' Swop" connectivity that was incomplete in the Nintendo 64 game, used now to unlock features in both Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and the then-upcoming Xbox Live Arcade version of Banjo-Tooie. The Xbox Live Arcade version was generally well received by critics, featuring an aggregate score of 77 out of 100 at Metacritic. While some publications such as Eurogamer considered the relatively unchanged game to be outdated, several agreed that the Xbox Live Arcade version was a solid revival of a classic. In 2009, IGN ranked it seventh on its list of Top 10 Xbox Live Arcade Games, with editor Cam Shea stating that, while the game is "not perfect, it was a landmark title for a reason".
Banjo-Kazooie is frequently cited as one of the greatest video games of all time. In 2000, the game was ranked number seven on IGN's list of The Top 25 N64 Games of All Time. In 2009, Game Informer ranked the game 71st in their list of the Top 100 Games Of All Time. In 2015, the Xbox Live Arcade version of Banjo-Kazooie was released as part of the Rare Replay video game compilation for Xbox One. A spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, Yooka-Laylee, was released in 2017. Elements from Banjo-Kazooie will be released as downloadable content for the crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in late 2019, including Banjo and Kazooie as playable characters and a stage based on Spiral Mountain.
- Banjo-Kazooie (Instruction booklet). Rare. Redmond, Washington: Nintendo of America. 1998. U/NUS-NBKE-USA.CS1 maint: others (link)
- "Banjo-Kazooie". Next Generation Magazine. 7 April 1998. Archived from the original on 3 March 2000. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Peer Schneider (1 July 1998). "Banjo-Kazooie Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- Rare (1998). Banjo-Kazooie. Nintendo 64. Nintendo. Level/area: Opening sequence.
Dingpot: Err.. but there is this girl... / Gruntilda: What d'you mean, this cannot be, there's no one prettier than me! / Dingpot: Why, it's Tooty, young and small, she's the prettiest girl of all!
- Rare (1998). Banjo-Kazooie. Nintendo 64. Nintendo. Level/area: Gruntilda's Lair.
Gruntilda: This fine contraption, so I'm told, will make me young and Tooty old!
- Rare (1998). Banjo-Kazooie. Nintendo 64. Nintendo. Level/area: Opening sequence.
Gruntilda: Come to me, my little pretty, you'll soon be ugly, what a pity! [Swoops down and catches Tooty]
- Rare (1998). Banjo-Kazooie. Nintendo 64. Nintendo. Level/area: Opening sequence.
Bottles: The ugly witch Gruntilda swooped down out of the sky and grabbed her! / Kazooie: Calm down, geeky we'll get her back! Where did she go? / Bottles: She flew up to her mountain lair! It's really dangerous, so you'll probably need some training before you go up there!
- Rare (1998). Banjo-Kazooie. Nintendo 64. Nintendo. Level/area: Spiral Mountain.
Tooty: What's the party for? Grunty got away, so get back up there and finish the job!
- Rare (1998). Banjo-Kazooie. Nintendo 64. Nintendo. Level/area: Ending sequence.
Gruntilda: All the Jiggies you did snatch, but I'll be back for my rematch!
- "The Making of Banjo-Kazooie". Retro Gamer. No. 36. Imagine Publishing. March 2007. pp. 18–25.
- Gregg Mayles, Ed Bryan, Paul Machacek (22 December 2015). Rare Revealed: A Rare Look at Dream (Video). Twycross, England: Rare. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- Ben Reeves (22 October 2012). "Dream Project: The Secret History of Banjo-Kazooie". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- "Playing the banjo...". N64 Magazine. No. 16. Future Publishing. June 1998. p. 13.
- "9 Videogame Composers to Watch". IGN. 13 October 2008. Archived from the original on 8 August 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- Rare Revealed: The Making of Banjo-Tooie (Video). Twycross, England: Rare. 17 September 2015. Event occurs at 1:56. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
One of the last-minute things we tried to get into Banjo-Kazooie was multiplayer. I think we kind of got it going a little bit, but it was just too big a job. It was just a step too far, so we held that back and we ended up putting a multiplayer section into Banjo-Tooie.
- Rare Revealed: The Making of Banjo-Tooie (Video). Twycross, England: Rare. 17 September 2015. Event occurs at 0:41. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
We used some levels that were originally planned for Kazooie ... were then rolled into Tooie.
- Stephen Totilo (23 May 2008). "Why I Finally Accept What Happened To That 'Banjo Kazooie' Stop N Swop Thing". MTV. Archived from the original on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- "E3: Banjo-Kazooie rocks E3!". IGN. 19 June 1997. Archived from the original on 8 August 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- "Protos: Banjo-Kazooie". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 98. Ziff Davis. September 1997. p. 34.
- "Banjo-Kazooie Still Delayed". IGN. 11 September 1997. Archived from the original on 8 August 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- "Banjo-Kazooie Related Games (Release Summary)". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 20 April 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
- "Nintendo 64 Software List 1998". Coocan.jp (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 1 October 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
- "Banjo-Kazooie". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "Banjo-Kazooie". GameRankings. Archived from the original on 6 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "Banjo-Kazooie". Edge. No. 61. Future Publishing. August 1998. pp. 82–84.
- Air Hendrix (24 November 2000). "Banjo-Kazooie". GamePro. Archived from the original on 13 January 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
- Gerstmann, Jeff (1 July 1998). "Banjo-Kazooie Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- Colin (1 July 1998). "Banjo-Kazooie Review". Game Revolution. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- Colin Williamson. "Banjo-Kazooie Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on 13 November 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- James Ashton (August 1998). "Banjo-Kazooie". N64 Magazine. No. 18. Future Publishing. pp. 54–67.
- "Banjo-Kazooie". Nintendo Power. No. 109. Nintendo of America. June 1998. p. 94.
- "Banjo-Kazooie". Next Generation. No. 43. Imagine Media. July 1998. p. 106.
- "US Platinum Videogame Chart". The Magic Box. 27 December 2007. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
- "Nintendo 64 Japanese Ranking". Japan Game Charts. 10 April 2008. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
- "Milia News; ECCSELL Awards Name Winners". GameSpot. 12 February 1999. Archived from the original on 30 August 1999.
- Game Informer Staff (2 February 1998). "A Bear of a Game". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 1 May 1999. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "1999 Interactive Achievement Awards". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- "Best Graphics of 1998". IGN. 6 February 1999. Archived from the original on 8 August 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- "Best Sound of 1998". IGN. 6 February 1999. Archived from the original on 24 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- Fran Mirabella III (20 November 2000). "Banjo-Tooie". IGN. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Craig Harris (12 September 2003). "Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge". IGN. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
- Craig Harris (20 January 2005). "Banjo Pilot". IGN. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
- Andy Robinson (17 July 2008). "MS sees Banjo as Mario-like 360 mascot". Computer and Video Games. Archived from the original on 8 August 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Erik Brudvig (5 November 2008). "Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 26 January 2009. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Erik Brudvig (14 July 2008). "E3 2008: Banjo-Kazooie Hops on Live Arcade". IGN. Archived from the original on 8 August 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- Ryan Geddes (24 September 2008). "Banjo-Kazooie Dated For XBLA". IGN. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Erik Brudvig (25 September 2008). "Banjo-Kazooie Hands-on". IGN. Archived from the original on 5 November 2008. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Daemon Hatfield (29 April 2009). "Banjo-Tooie Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 12 June 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Banjo-Kazooie". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 21 October 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Kristan Reed (25 November 2008). "Banjo-Kazooie Review". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 7 September 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Mark Melnychuk (21 December 2008). "Xbox Live Arcade Review - 'Banjo-Kazooie'". Worthplaying. Archived from the original on 14 May 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Erik Brudvig (6 November 2008). "Banjo-Kazooie Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 10 January 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- Cam Shea (7 May 2009). "IGN's Top 10 Xbox Live Arcade Games". IGN. Archived from the original on 13 April 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
- "The Top 25 N64 Games of All Time: #6-10". IGN. 15 June 2000. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
- Jeff Cork (16 November 2009). "Game Informer's Top 100 Games Of All Time (Circa Issue 100)". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 8 April 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
- Michael McWhertor (15 June 2015). "Rare Replay for Xbox One includes 30 Rare games for $30 (update)". Polygon. Archived from the original on 28 June 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
- Kallie Plagge (4 April 2017). "Missing notes". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 19 July 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
- Baird, Scott (11 June 2019). "Banjo-Kazooie Will Be Coming To Super Smash Bros. Ultimate". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on 30 June 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.