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N64 team working on Banjo 360

So says top Microsoft exec.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Good news for fans of the N64 originals - a top Microsoft exec has told Eurogamer that the original team responsible for Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie is working on the new 360 instalment announced at last week's X06.

Rare's platforming double act took the Nintendo console by storm in the '90s. And while the series' return has been anticipated for some time, Microsoft Game Studios general manager Phil Spencer wanted to reassure gamers that Banjo's 360 debut is very much in the right hands.

He revealed: "Team sizes are so different now and we have more animators now than the full Banjo 1 team, but the key core team is really the same."

Spencer was also keen to play down suggestions that Banjo-Kazooie 360 is being created for younger gamers, insisting: "Certain people look at the bear and the bird and think it's a kids' game. What we think is that Banjo as an intellectual property has the ability to span audiences.

"For us in the next Banjo game it was about evolving the gameplay while keeping the approachability of the characters, but the depth of the gameplay is very important. This can't turn into some minigame-based paper game. It has to be something that has a ton of substance."

Given the Fort Knox-style levels of secrecy at the Twycross-based developer, specifics are predictably thin on the ground at this stage, but Spencer had a few more vague snippets for us.

"I think where we are with that game right now is something that is extremely innovative," he continued. "We're not talking about the game idea yet, but what you'll see coming from Banjo is a game that has even more depth than Banjo-Kazooie or Banjo-Tooie, more variability, more gameplay - but keeps the face that is Banjo on the game to make it more approachable.

"It'll be familiar to fans of the originals in terms of style, absolutely, and in terms of setting, story and characters. In terms of it being another platformer? I think that genres evolve, and that's what we're doing with this game. So you might call it something else when it comes out - but it's the same team and it's staying true to that team and what it believes in."

It's worth noting that this will also be $375 million Microsoft studio Rare's first 360 game that actually originated on the platform. Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero were first GameCube then Xbox 1 games, while Viva Pinata started out on Xbox 1 and came to 360 via mobile devices.

"Banjo has never seen another platform," Spencer confirmed. "The original gameplay ideas were on this box [Xbox 360] and that's where they'll ship." But it looks like we'll have a bit of a wait on our hands before we learn exactly what these "original gameplay ideas" are, sadly.

Spencer added: "There's some very good gameplay in the game, but we want to show it in a way that creates the excitement that it should. We're probably a little ways away - not too far - but a little ways away from showing it in all its glory. But the gameplay is already solid."

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