completed their work on Banjo-Kazooie
they found that they have a lot of unused material left over: level concepts, characters, scenarios, and more. At the time Rareware
frowned on coming out with sequels immediately after completing the original game, but this time they made an exception to release 2000's Banjo-Tooie
for the Nintendo 64
. Picking up where the first game ended, Gruntilda
the evil witch has been crushed by a boulder after falling from the top of her lair. Her evil sisters retreive her living skeleton and promise to revive her to full strentgh, but first Grunty gets revenge by blasting Banjo
's home, killing Bottles
the mole in the process. With Gruntilda
back on the loose and threatening to suck the life out of the land, it's up to Banjo
to team up for another adventure.
Our heroes retain all the moves they learned in the original game, plus they learn a number of new ones. Since Bottles is dead, his brother Jamjars takes over the education process. His military bunkers are scattered all over the land and must be found before a new move can be taught. New moves include techniques such as climbing across ledges, shooting fire, ice, &explosive eggs, and splitting up for the first time. By splitting up our heros pick up their own unique individual moves, such as Banjo's ability to take a nap in his backpack or Kazooie's ability to breathe fire. The duo can only split up by finding the special pad with our heroes' faces on it. There are a number of puzzles that require seperation. Mumbo Jumbo has also returned, but since he's a playable character this time it's up to the shameness Humba Wumba to provide the transformations. For the right price she'll turn our heroes into a Stony, van, a washing machine (complete with underwear gun), a TNT detonator, a submarine, a mighty dinosaur, a snowball, and a bee.
The game's overall goal is to stop Gruntilda and her sisters. A more short-term goal is to open new levels so that our heroes can reach the witches' lair. New levels are opened by solving a jigsaw puzzle, which means that in each level our heroes must collect puzzle pieces, also known as jiggies. Some jiggies are sitting out in the open, others are locked away but in plain sight, while others only appear in the first place after a special task in completed. Jiggies aren't the only collectables, however. Other items of note are egg nests (for ammunition), music notes (to open new parts of the hub world), Glowbos (for fueling the transformations), honeycombs (for extra energy), Cheato pages (for earning cheats), and much more. Remember, this is Rareware we're dealing with here, and they brought us the collect-a-thon known as Donkey Kong 64. There's a lot to gather in this game.
The Isle o' Hags is the main hub world in Banjo-Tooie and all the other levels in the game are accessible from it. Each level has a different setting, such as Mayan temple, amusement park, beachside town, and so on, plus most levels have a boss fight of some sort. A number of side games are also around, such as bumper cars or kickball games. The different levels are...
- Spiral Mountain (training area)
- Mayahem Temple
- Glitter Gulch Mine
- Jolly Roger's Lagoon
- Grunty Industries
- Hailfire Peaks
- Cloud Cuckooland
- Cauldron Keep
Add in some multiplayer and we have a game for the ages. Poking fun at Rareware's first-person-shooter sensation, Goldeneye, players take control of someone such as Banjo, Gruntila, Jamjars, etc. in order to shoot at other players from a FPS perspective. There are a number of different options, including straight deathmatch, one hit kills, 48 shots available, team mode, and a final mode where one player is the target and the others pursue him/her. More playable characters are unlockable by finding secret items in the course of the main game.
No writeup about Banjo-Tooie would be complete without a discussion of the infamous "stop 'n swop" technique that was a hot topic at the game's release. If you'll recall from Banjo-Kazooie there were a number of places that you could see, but not access. Furthermore, at the end of the game Mumbo Jumbo revealed a number of colored eggs hidden away, plus there's that infamous ice key. Early sneaks at the game indicated that there'd be some way to return to the levels of Banjo-Kazooie, pick up the hidden eggs and the key, and then return to Banjo-Tooie with these items where they could be used. In fact, some Gameshark users hacked into the first game and found screens instructing players to swap the two cartridges and others found the secret codes that would unlock the hidden areas. All in all there were six colored eggs locked away as well as that ice key. However, in the final game only two colored eggs and the ice key are available by finding little bouncing game paks and smashing them open. Rareware has repeatedly denied that it's possible to actually return to the first game via the second, but it seems that at the time they had planned to make such a connection. There's been much speculation as to how this could be done - lock-on cartridge? Expansion Pak? hot swapping? - but, in the end, the two games stand alone.
Banjo-Tooie is a fun romp for those who enjoyed the first game, but the collecting aspect of the game can be heavy-handed at times. The worlds are physically larger than in the first game, the graphics are sharper, and the music is more detailed. Fans of the series shouldn't miss out on this game and it's still somewhat easily available at major game stores. Failing that check out the used game market and online auctions. I picked up my copy for $10 at Blockbuster Video when they were selling off their used Nintendo 64 game paks. It's likely that this is the last time we'll see Banjo and Kazooie on a Nintendo console, seeing as how the characters are Microsoft Xbox-bound.
Playing the game