Banjo-Kazooie is a platformer developed by Rare who was heavily influenced by Super Mario 64. In the game, players play as a bear named Banjo who wears a backpack containing his bird-friend – Kazooie. The game features large worlds full of collectibles, secrets, and enemies.
Throughout his journey, Banjo and Kazooie must collect notes, new powers, and jiggys to advance to the next level. Also, the game features a very distinct soundtrack that features heavy use of a banjo.
Banjo-Kazooie begins with a wicked witch named Gruntilda stirring a green liquid in her cauldron called Dingpot. She claims to be the most beautiful woman, until Dingpot explains how she is not, and that Tooty (Banjo’s sister) is the prettiest girl ever. Gruntilda, who is always speaking in rhymes, explains how she will capture Tooty.
She is successful and threatens to switch appearances with Tooty, when Banjo hears of what happened. From then on it is Banjo’s duty to stop Gruntilda, with his bird-friend Kazooie, by going to different worlds, collecting tons of items, and eventually confronting Gruntilda herself.
Banjo-Kazooie follows a structure similar to that of Super Mario 64. Players are tasked with finding various collectible objects such Jiggys (Jigsaw Pieces), Musical Notes, and Mumbo Tokens and then using those objects to traverse through the hub-world. Jigsaw pieces open doors to new worlds by collecting enough to complete the corresponding jigsaw puzzle.
There are ten Jiggies in each world: nine must be found, and one is granted by finding all five Jinjos on each world. Musical Notes open magic note doors that allow Banjo and Kazooie to progress further into Gruntilda’s lair. There are 100 notes in each world, and 900 total in the game. Mumbo Tokens grant the player magical transformations at Mumbo’s hut when the player collects a sufficient amount. These transformations include the following: termite, crocodile, walrus, pumpkin and bee.
On the way, players will meet many characters, but the one who will help players the most is Mumbo – A skull-man who is able to cast magic. He helps Banjo on his quest by opening secret doors and stopping trains. Banjo travels along with his bird companion, Kazooie; she allows him to fly, climb, and she can turn into an egg-firing machine gun.
Together they are bound to take down the evil Gruntilda – An evil witch who wants to control the world and commit evil deeds. She resides in her lair, with her trusty troll like companion.
If a player receives a game over, a cut scene is show of Gruntilda successfully switching appearances with Tooty and becoming a beautiful witch, then mocking Banjo as the screen fades out.
One of the two protagonists of the game, Banjo is a quirky Honey Bear trying to rescue his younger sister, Tooty. He lives in a small blue house in Spiral Mountain with his sister Tooty and friend Kazooie, and is easily recognized by his sharktooth necklace, blue backpack and bright yellow shorts.
A red-crested Breegull, Kazooie is the sassy counterpart to Banjo’s light and cheerful demeanor. She stays in Banjo’s blue backpack and helps Banjo to perform a large variety of moves with the help of Bottles’ training, including running up steep, slippery slopes, flying and shooting eggs at the bad guys.
Banjo-Kazooie’s antagonist, Gruntilda is an ugly witch obsessed with her looks. She captured Banjo’s sister Tooty and plans to use a machine to steal young Tooty’s good looks. Gruntilda, or Grunty for short, always speaks in rhyme during the course of the game.
Banjo’s younger sister who is captured by Gruntilda. Tooty has not appeared in a game since Banjo-Kazooie, although Rare has made references to her in Banjo-Tooie and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.
Originally Tooty was going to be Banjo’s girlfriend named “Piccolo”.
A nerdy looking mole constantly pestered by Kazooie, Bottles teaches Banjo and Kazooie all of the moves in the game. He is easily identified by his plaid suit and coke-bottle glasses, and upon reaching one of his molehills hidden within each of the various levels within the game, the player will be able to learn a new technique from the mole himself.
The lumbering, green, humpbacked sidekick to Gruntilda the witch. In Banjo-Kazooie he can only be seen in a few cutscenes where he operates Gruntilda’s beauty machine or is just trying to help his master.
|Mumbo Mountain– First level is like a jungle filled with orange throwing gorillas, a termite cave, and a bull just waiting to trample Banjo and Kazooie. Banjo can visit Mumbo and transform into a termite.|
|Treasure Trove Cove– An island which contains many pinching crabs, a giant hermit crab, a pirate who lost his treasure, and a seemingly indestructible shark. This level also contains a stranded ship and a light house perched on an arch.|
|Clanker’s Cavern– A sewer like water filled level that contains a metal shark named Clanker that is Gruntilda’s Garbage disposal, that is looking to be unchained.|
|Bubblegloop Swamp– a swamp that is home to a giant turtle, a large crocodile, musical frogs, a corcadile hungry for worms, and many hidden poisonous frogs waiting to pounce on Banjo. Mumbo can turn Banjo into a crocodile.|
|Freezeezy Peak– A snowy village with a giant snowman in the middle there are many evil snowman throwing snowballs, but there is also a Christmas tree , and three kids whose dad, Boggy, is missing. Mumbo can turn Banjo into a Walrus.|
|Gobi’s Valley– An desert with many ancient Egyptian pyramids and a sphinx. There are many mummies to haunt Banjo, also there is a very thirsty tree and a camel named Gobi.|
|Mad Monster Mansion– A haunted house and grounds with many skeletons and bats to pester Banjo. Also there is a Organ playing hand and a toilet named Loggo. Mumbo can change Banjo into a pumpkin.|
|Rusty Bucket Bay– A giant ship docked in polluted waters. This ship has a captain seeking the assistance of Banjo and Kazooie.|
|Click Clock Wood– The final level is a wooded area that can experience seasonal changes. Mumbo can also change Banjo into a bee in this area.|
A large feature of gameplay is that the characters make limited speech-like sounds when they talk. The voices are not real speech, but rather a looping of voice-like sounds when text bubbles were displayed.
This artistic choice was likely made due to memory limitations on Nintendo 64 cartridges; however, this added considerably to the atmosphere and uniqueness of the game. The gibberish like speech would go on to become a staple of the series to the point where when the series moved over to the Xbox 360 (a system more than capable of handling speech) with Banjo and Kazooie Nuts and Bolts the team opted to stick with gibberish.
In addition this manner of speech has influenced many a games. Rare themselves re-used the trope in Grabbed by the Ghoulies.
Stop ‘N’ Swop
Stop ‘N’ Swop is an incomplete feature in Banjo-Kazooie. During development of the game, the team at Rare learned that if the N64 cartridge was pulled out without shutting off the power, the game would retain memory for a few seconds. The team intended to incorporate this “feature” into the game proving a hook for the game’s sequel. After collecting 100 Jiggies, Mumbo shows Banjo and Kazooie a movie showing the duo reaching inaccessible areas saying that this will be poossible in the sequel Banjo-Tooie. At first it was unknown how this games would could connect, but eventually hackers discovered menu titled “Stop ‘N’ Swop” in the game code that would of allowed Banjo to get these items. Shortly after the game was released, Nintendo released a newer model N64 that significantly shortened the length of time a cart-less N65 could hold data. Rare conceded and the Stop N Swap feature was canned, only to be resurrected nearly ten years later.
In January 2009, Banjo-Tooie was announced for the Xbox Live Arcade , together with the return of the Stop ‘n’ Swop link between the two original games to unlock hidden material in Banjo-Tooie.
On the XBLA version of the game, 6 special Stop ‘N’ Swop eggs can be found without the use of cheats. The egg locations are as follows:
- -Pink Egg- In Treasure Trove Cove. There will be an island called Sharkfood Island. Inside it is a mountain on top of which is the pink egg.
- -Cyan Egg- Mad Monster Mansion. In the cellar one barrel will have the Cyan egg deep inside it.
- -Green Egg- Mad Monster Mansion. In the bathroom the Green egg will be on top of Loggo.
- -Blue Egg- Gobi’s Valley. One of the magic carpets will take Banjo to the location of Gobi before he leaves the desert. In the building will be a sarcophagus containing the Blue Egg.
- -Red Egg- Rusty Bucket Bay. In the captain’s quarters through one of the portholes will have the red egg.
- -Yellow Egg- Click Clock Wood. In the Winter season, in Nabnut the squirrel’s house will hold the yellow egg.
There is also an ice key that can be found In Freezeezy Peak in Wozza the Walrus’ cave.
Other Changes Prior To Release
Between its release and being first announced at E3 in 1997, the game underwent a number of significant changes. At the time, the title “Dream”, was simply derived from Rare’s codename for the game “Project: Dream”. Kazooie was originally named Kazoo, however her name had already been copyrighted, leading to the renaming of the character and the game’s subsequent title. The first logo that was revealed also differs greatly from the current one.
Banjo-Kazooie was meant to have 16 levels, however some were cut in order to meet the game’s release schedule. These included Mount Fire Eyes, which eventually ended up as the lava side of Hailfire Peaks in Banjo-Tooie, and Fungus Forest, which became Fungi Forest in Donkey Kong 64 and was the area depicted on the game’s Box Art. Although rumors have circulated regarding a Hammerhead Beach level, this was only the beta name for the beach level which ended up being called Treasure Trove Cove. A mine and circus level were also originally planned for the game, but were scrapped and used in the game’s sequel instead.
As well as the Stop ‘n’ Swop feature with Banjo-Tooie, there was also a rumored link up to Donkey Kong 64 that never came to fruition. Although the feature was never used in Banjo-Tooie, two hackers of the Rare Witch Project uncovered the codes to unlock the obtainable items by entering the codes in the Treasure Trove Cove sandcastle area after entering the word “CHEAT”. They were posted shortly after Banjo-Tooie’s release in 2001. Those codes are as follows:
Several other small elements were excluded from the final game, including things on a level-by-level basis. For instance, Mad Monster Mansion had a flight pad at one point
The soundtrack, consisting of music from the game composed by Grant Kirkhope, was released by Nintendo of America on a limited edition CD. This CD was sold exclusively at Best Buy stores and the Nintendo Power Catalog with two additional tracks.
- Main Title
- Spiral Mountain
- Witch’s Lair
- Mumbo’s Mountain
- Treasure Trove Cove
- Clanker’s Cavern
- Bubble Gloop Swamp
- Freezeezy Peak
- Gobi’s Valley
- Mad Monster Mansion
- Rusty Bucket Bay
- Click Clock Wood
- Final Battle
- Banjo Overture
- Squirrel (Nabnut’s house in Click Clock Wood)
The XBLA version was made available to everyone on November 26 2008 for the price of 1200 Microsoft Points ($15). A free download code for the game was given to some of the people who pre-ordered Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts giving them the opportunity to play the original 2 weeks before anyone else.
The gameplay is the same as the N64 original, but the graphics have been improved to support 1080p (the 2D sprites showing the most improvement). In addition, the stop ‘n swop items can be legitimately obtained with a Nuts and Bolts save file. They can be used to unlock special parts (i.e. British Flags, Fuzzy Dice, Potted Plant, etc.) in said game, although they are for decoration more than anything else.