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
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


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


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