Banjo-Kazooie • Page 2

Bearly up to it.  

None of it's completely broken as such, but nor is it a feel you'll be inclined to tolerate for any length of time in a modern context. As ever with these games, the key is persistence. As long as your reservoir of patience is well-stocked, there's a modicum of fun to be eked out by gradually collecting every damned item - but it's more likely the fun will be based on your association with the game's original release, and the blind nostalgia of reliving something you did through the eyes of innocent youth. Even hardened retro heroes might find it hard to defend some of the basic design flaws on show.

The other important thing to note is how the game stacks up technically in the harsh light of 2008. With 3D gaming still very much in its infancy a decade ago, angular awkwardness came with the territory, with everything from the level geometry to the characters themselves designed around the limitations of the hardware. And while there's a wistfulness about those liberating days when the possibilities of 3D were being explored, objectively this is a prime example of a retro style that hasn't aged well, with garish colour schemes and primitive attempts at texturing only adding to its dated look.

To give Rare its dues, artistically it did its best with the tools available, and evidently invested greatly into creating a vivid cartoon cast - something that was still an enormous novelty at the time. Some cute touches still allow elements of the game to shine - the in-engine cut scenes in particular provide occasional highlights, and provide much-needed personality with sharp dialogue and the trademark burbling voices. Sadly, its appeal is completely uneven, and viewing it out of context ten years on does it no favours.

Perhaps the most jarring part of Banjo-Kazooie is the perpetually unforgiving level design, which regularly irritates with '90s conventions most of us will be glad to see the back of. After a well-directed introductory portion, three levels into the game it quickly slips into the worst excesses of late-'90s platforming, with poor signposting contributing to growing frustration as the trial-and-error gameplay comes to the fore. Inevitably, the novelty value of new moves and abilities gives way to genre clichs, like the obligatory toxic area, and an ice world, and creativity the game takes a tumble.

Still, it's good to see Klungo back to his old self.

That said, it's pleasing to see 4J Studios upscaling the visuals and tailoring the controls to the pad without any issues, but it comes at a hefty price. Jarring slowdown crops up in the unlikeliest scenarios, which is unforgivable for a game of this age. Adding the promised Stop 'N Swap feature (originally planned for Banjo Tooie) will be of particular interest if you happen to have bought Nuts & Bolts and want to unlock new vehicle parts, but it's one for the truly committed, rather than a selling point.

For a game costing a princely 1200 Microsoft Points (GBP 10.20 / EUR 14.40), we'd have hoped Banjo-Kazooie to have aged rather better than it has. As it is, it's still a solid platformer with some neat ideas, but it's undone by a host of camera and control issues. If you popped your gaming cherry playing Banjo as a youngster, prepare for nostalgia tinged by disappointment, as you discover it's not quite the classic you remember.

5 /10

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Kristan Reed

Kristan Reed


Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.


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