Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre ImageJust two years ago, the hardcore UK gamers had a bit of a conundrum on their hands. Having shunned the hundreds of attempts Sony had made to steal their allegiance, they were all of a sudden presented with a press release stating that one of the most recognised and renown UK games development companies, Rare, would no longer be developing exclusively for their beloved Nintendo systems. “So what?” They said at first, “We can still play Rare games, only not exclusively.” Then, quicker than the time it took to spread the first press release, a second was issued with the real shock – Rare had been bought by Microsoft.

What were the hardcore to do now? Having stayed faithful to Nintendo and not exactly being granted with all the glory they’d been promised, Microsoft were beginning to look every so slightly like the odd-one-out in the 128-bit home console race.

Well, those two years have been and gone, Rare released a solitary GameCube title, StarFox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet, which was a pleasing adventure title and very tasty looking. The Xbox releases haven’t exactly been flooding in either, with an incredible amount of in-house delays the only title to have seen shop-shelves first-hand is Grabbed By The Ghoulies, which fell far short of its predicted sales peak. So, Rare have managed to find a loop-hole in their contract with Microsoft, which enables them to employ another publisher in order to release their handheld games on other formats, enter THQ, enter Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge.

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge is the first of these handheld titles to be released and, in terms of Game Boy Advance development at least, it demonstrates Rares’ determination to continuously enforce those strict quality regulations and high-quality output values that they had during Nintendo64 production. From the very beginning of the title, you will find the graphics and the animation quite remarkable, and those of you who have had the pleasure to experience the titles’ Nintendo64 predecessor’s, Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, will feel immediately at home as, somehow, Rare have managed to recreate the feel of the two original 360degree, complex three-dimensional platformers, in a top-down quasi-3D handheld game!

The game’s controls are blissful, even with the depth of moves at your disposal, and all the original elements, such as transformations, jiggy collecting, jingo collecting, note collecting etc., are still there, which adds a great learning curve for those new to the series as you still have to find a mole friend of yours in order to learn the moves, although this time, he’s kinda weird…

The levels on offer will not disappoint. Seemingly somewhat smaller than their Nintendo64 counterparts, they still have more than enough variety to get your platforming kicks from, and there are many levels to find. As is customary these days, the title has a “hub”, where some basic gameplay will transpire, and from this hub you will be able to access the main levels of play. The levels consist of the usual platform antics, as mentioned above, but deliver it all very reliably, and the style of the game is currently quite unique, so expect hundreds of dodgy “me-too” games come summer.

As I mention briefly earlier, the graphics the title sports are fantastic, and often it will come as a shock that this system is already “outdated” by competitors, as we obviously haven’t yet seen anything the Game Boy Advance is really capable of yet. The animation is fluid, the characters are varied and brightly coloured and the storyline once again sucks you in with that oh-so-typically-Rare British humour. The sound is more than passable, with Banjo gulping and grunting and Kazooie squawking with incredible clarity for the Game Boy Advance’s solitary speaker.

The title is quite frankly one of the best platform adventures I’ve had the pleasure of playing on the Game Boy Advance. If you want a change of pace from the usual 2D fodder, this could be the eye-opener you need. Fantastic graphics, sound and an amazing longevity. Look for it, play it, enjoy.


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