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Banjo Tooie

Developer: Rare | Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 11/19/00 | Genre: Platform

The Bird and Bear are back, in their sequel to the surprise hit, Banjo Kazooie. Rare continues to shine on the Nintendo, and this game was no exception. The environments are colorful, characters are engaging, and there is now multiplayer gaming depth added to the mix.

If you have played Nintendo's Super Mario 64, or Donkey Kong 64, then you are familiar with the idea of platform gaming. Banjo Tooie is a third-person exploratory style game - very similar in feel to SM 64 and the Legend of Zelda. Donkey Kong 64 players will feel right at home in the richly detailed, albeit cartoonish landscapes. Rare continues to distinguish its artistic thrust through detailed touches - water splashes, lighting effects, and sounds are all executed with the expertise that we have come to expect. Naturally, there is Rare's now signature, "sounds that make you think the characters talk, while we scroll text on the screen" ploy, which does actually add to the hilarity of the game.

Gameplay is deeper in my opinion than in the previous version. The basic Banjo Kazooie moves are still there, but there is a wide array of new moves that the unlikely duo can now learn. Kazooie gets to flee the backpack, and leave the bear behind when you get to Witchyworld. The untimely demise of Bottles, the nearsighted mole from the first game, has necessitated the appearance of his drill sergeant brother, Jamjars. Jamjars helps out the team by his ability training exercises. If you want to get anywhere in Banjo-Tooie, mastering the moves is essential. Fortunately, even this is not terribly difficult, however maintaining control of the camera can sometimes be a challenge.

The cast of characters is a mix of old and new faces. Everyone's favorite shaman, Mumbo-Jumbo, is back, as is your arch-enemy, Gruntilda. Gruntilda is a bit lighter this time around, as two years worth of burial underground did little for her disposition and even less for her appearance. The new roster of foes now includes Gruntildas two sisters, Mingella and Blobella. Mingella, tall and thin, and Blobella, short and well--you know, add some humor to the game. They free Grunty to take revenge upon our heroes. Humba Wumba is Banjo Tooie's resident "Candy-Kong," somewhat laughingly seductive in speech, and there is no love lost between her and Mumbo-Jumbo. King Jingaling, Honey B, and Master Jiggywiggy round out the non-playable characters.

The worlds of Banjo Tooie are rich. First, you start off in the semi-training area called Spiral Mountain. Newcomers and returning fans can acquaint themselves with the controls and moves that will come in handy all too soon. The you are off to the Isle o' Hags, Mayahem Temple, Glitter Gulch Mine, Witchyworld, and Jolly Rogers Lagoon. That's just the beginning! Collecting honeycombs, jiggies, cheato pages, and other power-ups help keep you on your toes. All of the rich environments and side-tasks help boost the replay value of the game, and we haven't even gotten to the multi-player mini-games. Banjo Tooie allows up to four players to go head-to-head in everything from a Grunty hosted jeopardy-style game show, to a submarine battle, to aerial combat within a beehive! A definite bonus when you've others to amuse.

Banjo Tooie will give newcomers a great platform gaming experience and returning fans some new challenges. Nintendo makes a habit of trying to keep the older gamers happy, while attracting a younger clientele. This game offers just enough to accomplish that.

By Anthony Connors - 01/22/01
ESRB Details: Animated Violence, Comic Mischief
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Screenshots for Banjo Tooie

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