It seems like it is a challenge to get any criticism for things that are enjoyed these days. No one can have anything bad to say about anything everyone loves.
So today, I am going to review my favorite game of all time and point out it's flaws as well.
I do this to show that you can point out flaws in a game, still love the game, and not put it to shame.
My scoring system - Great, Ok, Playable, Meh, Terrible, and God-Awful
Banjo Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie. For the N64. My absolute favorite games.
Let's talk the positive first:
Banjo-Kazooie is a fun 3D collect-a-thon platformer. The story is set up like some kind of cartoon, which isn't bad by any means. The main villain Gruntilda the witch will keep talking to you throughout the game, giving you time to love the villain, but at the same time hate her guts because she won't shut up. This is a key element in making the final battle of a game, seem much more satisfying to a player. The environments are varied, and the way in which you collect the collectables in this game is entirely up to you. What order you do it in, how to obtain the one your after, etc. While some of the collectables have a specific goal, few of them only have one way of obtaining that goal. This is of course backed up by a kick-ass soundtrack, brought to us by the amazing Grant Kirkhope, and witty dialog. It made getting the collectables a huge adventure where nothing was too difficult, but nothing was handed to you either. Collecting everything felt rewarding by the end of it.
So, onto Tooie. How do you top a game that was so successful in doing what it did? Well for starters, show us the main villain is still very much evil by having the first things she does be kill the mole that taught you all your moves from the first game, as well as a cool new character presumed to be leader of the beings who saved you in the final battle of the first game. How is that for a punch that makes you want to go get some good old revenge. Follow that up with making the worlds connected, even more varied, larger, and still having that epic soundtrack. As well as keeping all your moves from the first game, and learning even more kick-ass moves to add to that. You have one hell of a follow up to an amazing game.
The controls in both games are nice and tight, with everything being where it needs to be and doing what it needs to do. You will have a lot of fun with these games.
Now, the flaws:
For starters, while the game looks great, Banjo himself takes on a rather Jagged look that is known for the N64. Now while still better than what we got in N&B it is worth noting.
Next the draw distance for the background is great. But the items have some serious pop-in going on. For those who don't know what that is, it is when an item disappears when you are far away from it, and rather than getting gradually closer the closer you get to it, you hit a certain point where they just reappear. This wouldn't be a problem if flying was not introduced in the game, but flying is mandatory at some parts of the game. So if you go too high, expect to see that pop-in. Now while the controls are nice and tight, the camera however, like most N64 games, can sometimes get in the way. Luckily they added a button for that though. Just press R and the camera will reset behind you, disregarding any obstacles in its way. Other than that, standard camera control with the C-Buttons.
Flying can feel iffy at times when forced to do it. Landing where you need to be often involves a ground pound from a distance. And you have to hope that distance isn't great enough to render any fall damage.
Due to an abandoned stop n' swap feature, collecting all the things in Kazooie result in a cutscene where Mumbo shows some hidden items that can be used in the next game. But must be found in this game. He shows you 3 of the locations, but they never opened. Ever. So if you wanted those great items, then you had to go to one of the worlds, and use ground pound letter by letter to form long codes in the form of sentences to get EACH individual item to show up where it is supposed to and grant you access to it.
These games do contain knockback, which is much more noticeable when an enemy hits you on a narrow platform. Which as we all know, can be a very frustrating mechanic.
The worlds in the second one can seem almost too big when you are just strolling through for an item that you missed or had to come back for due to not having the required abilities.
Targeting in the second one can just bite me. As unless you have the Homing Eggs ability, your control stick is very touchy when trying to do first person aiming. Very noticeable in the air when moving or on one of the mini games that acts as an on rail shooter. Also happens underwater. You could argue that I just suck with the first-person view, but it is not new player friendly, and is required for a good chunk of the second game.
Now a small portion of these problems were fixed in the XBLA release of this game. But the controls were changed, and it came with a few more bugs. But a good chunk of these problems still remain.
Now don't let these things fool you. Despite the problems of the game, the games are still really, really fun. I love these games and always will. And to tell you, I didn't start playing them until a couple of years ago. I didn't have an N64 until then. Thought I would give them a try. Despite their flaws they withstood the test of time. And are still really great 3D platforming adventures built around collecting.
They remain my favorite games, and I say they have earned their place on my shelf.
The game may have its flaws that are common with titles on the N64, but it is a grand adventure with a kick-ass sound track, great humor, and awesome moves. Banjo-Kazooie/Tooie should be in any platforming fans collection as it is very much worth your time and effort of mastering the game mechanics.