Banjoo-Kazooie was a popular, albeit Mario 64 derived, platformer that was best known for its excessive item collection gameplay and cartoony atmosphere. However, I found the humor and characters to be above average, even for the demographic that this game was meant for, in large part due to the talent and quality of Rare, the developer.
The idea of playing as essentially a “dual character”, that being a bear and excessively loud bird that resides in his backpack, may seem odd and misplaced at first. But as you learn the mechanics that their seemingly symbiotic relationship provides, you can realize what the developers were thinking when they decided to follow through with this idea. Between the two of them, they can glide, stomp, punch, bite, and even shoot. It’s like an amalgamation of Mario, Yoshi, and ever other Nintendo platforming mainstay, with the added bonus of some witty and clever dialogue between our heroes.
Overall, this game took the best parts of Mario 64 and went off on an amusing tangent, while the entire time showing us why Rare was the premiere adventure game developer of the 90’s.
Just some other information: Rare recently revealed that they are working on a third game in the Banjo series for the XBox 360. Looks like I better finally pick one up, although knowing the company’s past production schedule and penchant to delay, I probably have..oh, say 10 years to procrastinate.