Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge - GBA - Review

A few years ago when the Nintendo 64 was still something of a favorite on the market, Rare released a platform game that was just as fun and as brilliant as any of Miyamoto’s classic Super Mario and Donkey Kong games.  Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie were just one of those games that added on to the platform genre rather than recycle the same formula.  Now, armed with all new and advanced consoles, Rare wishes to reintroduce to us a really cool little bear and his feathered friend that’s tucked in his backpack.  With Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge, the Game Boy Advance is getting a chance to play a platform game that’s true to the old games.

 

Okay, this is the most difficult part of this review since the story isn’t exactly, um, any good at all.  In fact, the story might confuse the younger crowd and will leave them scratching their heads wondering what exactly is going on the minute the opening cinema comes on.  I don’t blame them, really, since the story involves Banjo and Kazooie’s old enemy Gruntilda.  Old Grunty, it seems, finds a way to travel back in time to before a little bear called Banjo met his backpack-dwelling beaked buddy Kazooie and kidnaps the bird to take him far off.  Why Banjo knows of Kazooie’s existence after the kidnapping or how he will be able to track his friend down when there is no time travel involved for him is what makes this all so confusing.

 

Banjo’s quest for Kazooie takes him through five distinct levels and one overworld where the eventual showdown takes place with the nefarious Gruntilda. Taking its inspiration from the N64 game’s levels, it’s actually surprising how well the game brings these same elements to a 2D format.  That being said, the levels are filled with all the things we might expect from a game involving Banjo-Kazooie.  You even wander through this world looking for all the same elements as well.  There are puzzle pieces to collect called Jiggies and musical notes you must collect to present to Bozzeye the Mole (who in turn teaches Banjo a new move) and even rescue creatures known as Jinjo.

 

Aside from the usual jumping from platform to platform or those other hard to reach places to get a Jiggy piece, the game offers some mini-games.  There’s a mini-game that puts you in control of a vehicle as you race others to win as many objects or a race to see how long you can carry a particular item the longest.  There’s even a fishing game that’s pretty addictive to the point that I kept retrying it just to beat my own score.  The game’s only flaw is the difficulty level of the boss battles.  They’re too easy and offer no challenge whatsoever!

 

You’ll be amazed how true to the N64 original this game looks on the GBA using a 2D format.  The GBA screen will be filled with the vibrant colors of the game world and the various locales, complete with detailed backdrops, you get to visit.  Banjo looks amazing himself, as does the characters he encounters throughout the game’s few levels. 

 

The excellent platformer music heard in the original Banjo-Kazooie can be found in this version as well.  In fact, gamers that have played the N64 game will be quite surprised that the tunes can be found throughout the entire game.  There also the usual platformer sound effects of jumping and of Banjo slamming his backpack into an enemy, but it pales in comparison to the manner in which the characters communicate.  If you’ve never heard Banjo speak, the sound him makes as he converses won’t fail to produce a chuckle from anyone within earshot.

 

This is a good year for the platform genre and the platform goodness of Banjo-Kazooie on the Game Boy Advance just proves the point.  Putting aside the fact that the few faults found in this game are hard to ignore, the game’s inventive levels and amusing mini-games will keep any gamer well entertained.  Personally, my biggest complaint is that it’s not long enough but it’s still all worth the price of admission.  

 

#Reviewer's Scoring Details

 

Gameplay: 8.2
It wasn’t easy recreating Banjo’s world to a 2D platform, but somehow the conversion fit the style and action of the game.  The five worlds not only look amazing but interacting with the various surprises that keep cropping up is a delight.  Whether it’s saving some Jinjo creatures and collecting musical notes, your character feels right at home.  Banjo also learns a couple of new moves along the way so this isn’t just another jump-to-platform-to-platform game.

 

Graphics: 8.2
This is actually a pretty impressive looking platform game that puts the GBA’s graphical capabilities to work.  The use of color in this game is wonderful and those who have played a Banjo-Kazooie game on the Nintendo 64 will surely be impressed with how close this 2D game looks to the N64 Banjo games.  At times it’s difficult to judge proximity, especially when it comes to platform jumping, but this really doesn’t get bad enough that it takes away from the game.

 

Sound: 8.0
I was always quite fond of the music in the old Nintendo 64 Banjo games and its score is faithfully brought to the GBA version complete with the same opening theme music.  Yet what’s surprising here is that they also brought Banjo’s hilarious and indescribable jibber-jabber.  Really, if you thought the trumpety-gibberish Charlie Brown hears whenever an adult speaks is funny, the noise Banjo makes will crack you up.  Or maybe I’m the only one really amused by it.

 

Difficulty: Medium
Please don’t judge this game’s difficulty level by the first stage (that safely takes you by the hand and leads you out of the level unscathed) or the fact that it takes no real brainpower to defeat the level bosses found in this game.  The game’s difficulty increases the deeper into the game you go and the mini-games are actually challenging enough to have you trying them again and again.

 

Concept: 7.8
Being able to go back into the game and retry your favorite mini-games is one of the best features found in this game.  There’s a great fishing mini-game as well as some racing action that will have gamers coming back for more.  A GBA Cable Link multiplayer mode would have made the racing mini-games so much more fun--perhaps that’s this is something we can look forward to with the next game.

 

Overall: 8.2
Far from the perfect platform game, Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge is still fun enough to keep you playing until the very end.   Sure the story is extremely weak and the boss battles prove to be more of an annoying distraction rather than a challenge, but it is, overall, the best conversion of a brilliant N64 game on the GBA.  A recommended buy for sure.

Great

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