Some of you have heard that retro gaming is becoming a popular thing lately. You haven’t? Oh, well, that’s happening now. Seriously, go to GameStop and they’ll have listings for SNES, Dreamcast, Genesis, and several others. I had a deprived childhood (by that I mean my parents bought me maybe two games) and now that I’m an adult I can finally experience all the games I missed.
So, upon my quest of obtaining old games, I thought I’d look at one that a lot of people have praised as one of the best games for the Nintendo 64: Banjo-Kazooie. Back in the 90’s, I would watch my cousin play as the bear and bird duo as they would collect puzzle pieces, eggs, feathers, music notes, and other random items. I remember being mesmerized as I tried to figure what the hell was the game about. It was something about a witch, a skeleton witch doctor, and all sorts of zany characters.
Years later, I had many friends who would fondly talk about the game like it was an old buddy they had growing up. A problem with a lot of games, movies, shows, or any form of media is that it may have been good at the time, but after years have passed, was it really good? Or are we just looking at it through nostalgia tinted glasses and pretending that it’s still good?
I managed to find a copy of the game to see for myself. The entire game is ridiculous elements just meshed into some weird melting pot that somehow blends everything together almost perfectly. The plot is about a witch, Gruntilda, who wants to become beautiful, so she kidnaps the young bear, Tooty, and works on stealing her beauty away. The player plays as Banjo, the older brother of Tooty, and Kazooie, Banjo’s friend who is stored in his backpack, as they venture into Gruntilda’s lair to rescue Tooty. Along the way, you must obtain Jiggies, golden puzzle pieces, to get further and further into the lair. In order to get these Jiggies you have to do all sorts of ludicrous tasks, including, but not limited to: helping a giant metal shark by going inside him; joining a turtle choir; beating a crocodile in a food eating contest; racing a polar bear; and shitting eggs into pots.
After about 10 minutes of playing I was hooked. It was hilarious seeing the witty dialogue (for a kid’s game) and seeing how many jokes must have gone over several kids’ heads when they first played this. The ridiculous tasks would sometimes be head scratchers, but then after figuring out what to do, it would give me a feeling of “they put all of these elements together for this stupid joke”, then roll my eyes, and then laugh at the sheer stupidity. The game never once treated me like I was stupid. Any time I was taught something new, it would tell me once, and never again. If there was a puzzle that required that movie, I would have to figure it out on my own (or look it up online). Later towards the end of the game, it really tested me on all of my knowledge and memory of the entire game. I had to quickly recall every clue, every task, and every move to defeat the final challenge.
So now I must answer if this game is any good, and to that I say “Hell yes.” The game is a blast for anyone young or old, and for anyone who wants a good old platformer collect-athon game. If you’re like me and like having the original version of the game, you can find it for $15-$30. If you’re like most people and don’t have access to a Nintendo 64, you can get it on Xbox Live for $15 or get the Rare Replay for Xbox ONE for $30 which includes Banjo Kazooie as well as a variety of other games. Do yourself a favor and play this game.