Such is the inheritance of the early 3D platformer though. The HD makeover isn't particularly kind to the angular visuals, but while our sophisticated modern gaming palates may no longer favour blatant inventory padding, being too harsh on the game for its slightly creaky formula and seems a waste of energy, a bit like criticising a movie from the 1950s for its stagey acting and locked-down cameras. This is how we used to play, and it's still innately enjoyable in a warts-and-all kind of way.
The camera doesn't deserve such leniency, however, and is the one element that really should have been ripped out and built from scratch to modern specifications. The right stick rotates your view left and right, but up and down movements only zoom the viewpoint in and out. If you want to look at anything slightly higher than Banjo's eye level, you need to dip into the first-person view - that old workaround used in so many early 3D games - to get your bearings. Today it feels inhibiting and claustrophobic, and that's a shame since many of the levels are still lovely to look at, even if their polygon edges are sharp and their themes generic.
The game also offers fourteen multiplayer mini-games, ranging from dodgems and football to a series of deathmatch FPS arenas. These are all fairly crude today, and only fun in very small doses, but when you consider that the core game is a sizable beast in itself, it all goes together to create something that feels more palatable for the premium 1200 MS Point (GBP 10.20 / EUR 14.40) price bracket.
And that's ultimately Banjo-Tooie's trump card. The asking price may be steep when compared to the usual Live Arcade fare, but it's a lot easier to swallow when you're getting a full-price sized experience for your money. A lot of the rough edges from the decade-old design are smoothed out by the fact that this is still more charming than a lot of modern 3D platformers which cost three times as much.
I still don't think the Banjo games are the stone-cold classics that many fans seem to think. For all their polish and wit, there's an inescapable feeling that N64 fans were perhaps a little too eager to christen The Next Mario, and Rare a little too quick to give them exactly what they expected. For every moment where the game deviates from predictable platform tropes, there are dozens more when it's really nothing more than a very nicely assembled and presented riff on what other games were pioneering. Banjo-Tooie, then. Not one of the all-time greats, but when you take off the rose-tinted glasses the result is still enough to make it a standout on Live Arcade. For a game almost a decade old, that ain't bad.
7 / 10