THE NINTENDO 64’S BANJO KAZOOIE could well have been called 'My First RPG'. It was an adventure platformer in the vein of Crash Bandicoot that also incorporated some RPG elements. And while it was squarely and blatantly aimed at kids, like a good Pixar film, there was enough interesting gameplay and between-thelines humour to make it appealing to adults as well. The sequel, Banjo Tooie (sickeningly cute, huh?) has now joined the ranks of Banjo Kazooie among the Xbox Live Arcade stable. It may not appeal to the current generation of gamers, but its true value could well be as pertinent as it ever was for younger, entry-level gamers.
The player navigates a bear named Banjo (and his little bird buddy Kazooie, who resides in Banjo’s backpack) around a 3D landscape, dispatching enemies with a variety of attacks and collecting treasure and power-ups.
You’ll be required to talk to various characters and follow the typical adventure-RPG process of 'find item X and return it to character Y'. And along the way, you’ll learn new abilities that will enable you to access previously unreachable areas. It’s timeless gameplay that still holds up today.
Perhaps the biggest aspect of Banjo Tooie that does show its age, however, is the cut scenes. The game will frequently require you to sit through rather lengthy sections of dialogue. And because the N64 was a cartridge-based system, there’s no speech and you’re forced to read loads of text (accompanied by comical, character-specific grunts).
There’s not a great deal of extra content for this XBLA port. The graphics have received a slight overhaul (although the textural limitations of the N64 have seemingly ported over as well), and achievements and online leaderboards have been included. But with the sheer volume of adventure that awaits, not to mention that tried- and-true gameplay, Banjo Tooie still constitutes a package that’s of better value than most XBLA downloads.