On the verge of the release of the mighty PlayStation Portable (PSP) and merely a few weeks after the launch of the incredible NintendoDS, I decided to look at another handheld’s releases – does every game have to be big and flashy? A call to the fans of the Mario Kart series, Banjo Pilot has arrived on the Game Boy Advance. Plotting the pitfalls of Mario Kart in a style reminiscent of Diddy Kong Racing on then Nintendo64, fans of either should not look away.
The object of the game is quite obvious, race around a selection of sixteen tracks (plus mirror versions) collecting power-ups and hitting boosts. The game offers a variety of modes including; Grand Prix – the usual four-track league, where collecting musical notes and “pages” will allow you to challenge a Boss, Time Trial – a race against the clock to beat your best times and Jiggy Challenge – in which you race against the rather stodgy Bottles, winning will earn you a Jiggy. The title features nine characters from the Banjo-Kazooie heritage, and collecting the familiar HoneyCombs during a race will bestow you with a randomly selected weapon, ranging from the usual array of projectiles to boosts. Each track contains plenty of replay value – collecting Musical Notes will add to your Cheato Pages earnt for the race and hidden boosts can be found by shooting “Glowbos”. The effect seen when boosts are executed is very pleasing and leaves Mario Kart: Super Circuit’s boost effect in the dust, but it remains beyond me why travelling across mud seventeen feet below you would hinder your progress in an aeroplane… The graphics featured in the game are up to Nintendo’s own standard for the system. Having previously been a Nintendo second-party development firm, they have been thought of in as high regard as the big N themselves on occasion, and since the two have parted, RARE obviously haven’t let their standards slip. There’s no pop-up to be seen and obtaining a Super Boost offers an impressive auto-pilot 360-degree pan of your character before plotting you back in control. The Sound effects and music mimic that of Banjo-Kazooie on the Nintendo64 and will be instantly recognisable to fans of the series.
For fans of either Banjo-Kazooie, Diddy Kong Racing or Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Banjo Pilot is an essential purchase. While the title doesn’t particularly offer anything new, the game itself is totally enjoyable experience. With plenty of tracks and a wide variety of game modes, Banjo Pilot is a title that will take a place of pride in your Game Boy Advance collection.