Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 09/10/03 | Genre: Platform
One of the best Nintendo 64 games was Banjo-Kazooie. This title took what Miyamoto did with Mario 64 and further perfected the genre. A sequel was later released but it was closer to the end of the N64's life-cycle. By then, people were growing tired of the console and ready to move on to different types of gaming experiences. So Rare sat on the franchise and it has not been seen since. The time without a new Banjo title has caused me to realize how great the series has been and what a great developer Rare is. Although Rare is now away from Nintendo and making Xbox titles, they have a few GBA games they are still working on. In a publishing contract with THQ, Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge is the first game to appear under this new relationship. While it is hard to make a ground-breaking title with such old technology, Grunty's Revenge is a solid title.
For the most part, this platformer plays in an overheard view. At times, the game switches views for specific mini-games to complete. However, these only occur for a very small portion of the game. While you are running around the game world, Banjo and Kazooie much gather musical Notes, open up areas of the world, defeat bosses, and ultimately stop Grunty and foil her plan to ensure Banjo and Kazooie never meet in the past. Similar to what Rare did in the Nintendo 64 versions of the game, our bird and bear will learn new moves as they progress through the worlds. These moves can only be unlocked if you have enough notes to pay the mole. Once learned, these moves are fairly easy to perform. However, this is an example of how I wish Nintendo would have included an X and Y button on the GBA. The extra buttons would have made some of these moves a little bit easier.
The environments are very detailed and you can tell Rare took a lot of time to try and re-create their Nintendo 64 experiences on the Game Boy Advance. Players will find ledges that have to be hopped on, bridges, ladders, cliffs to avoid falling down, windows to jump through from high above the ground, and more. It is quite amazing that the game world appears to be a smaller version of what Rare created before. The game doesn't feel out of place on the GBA but still retains that sophisticated gameplay that was enjoyed in the original Banjo titles.
A large portion of the game is spent collecting items so you can continue through all the game's different levels. Because of this, you may reach a point or two during the game where you don't know what to do next or how to collect enough musical notes to get a special ability needed to continue. This is one of the downsides to Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge. The title does lack direction and it can be a bit non-linear. Don't let that minor problem stop you from trying this title out. This is the best original platformer I have played on the Game Boy Advance in a long time. And unless Nintendo decides to release an original one anytime soon, it will probably remain one of the best for some time to come. If you are looking for a new, original, Game Boy Advance title, look no further than Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge.