Tag Archives: rareware

BK: Nuts and Bolts and the Evil Doppelgangers That Make Up Its Cast

If you have ever played the original “Banjo-Kazooie” games, you know they were quite a treat to play.  This series starred, as you can easily guess, two characters named Banjo and Kazooie, a delightful bear and bird team that worked together to accomplish all kinds of things, from collecting Jiggies and notes, to saving Jinjos, and defeating enemies, including the evil, rhyming witch Gruntilda that serves as the villain of the series.  The main games of the series, “Banjo-Kazooie” and “Banjo-Tooie”, were a really great pair of games for the Nintendo 64.  Even though they came out over ten years ago, I have still not grown bored of them, and I still count them as some of the top games ever made.  But, as is far too common, series either end or turn bad.  In the case of “B-K”, I wish it had ended.  I really do.  Because many years after the first two games were released, Rareware created another game on the XBox 360, a game that will forever be known in my mind as disappointment in tangible form.  “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts”.

            First, let me just say that this game, well, it’s not…it’s not a bad game, exactly.  It can be fun.  It is different.  It can certainly be challenging.  But, it is a terrible, terrible “Banjo-Kazooie” game.  I mean it.  Terrible, with a scoop of spiders on top.  T-E-R-ribble.  I won’t even mention the fact that the graphics, while good, are of a style that make our heroes look rather hideous, and why is Mumbo wearing overalls…and working as a mechanic, of all things?!  I won’t even mention that there are barely any worlds now, and they are not very interesting.  Or that the music doesn’t stand out to me whatsoever anymore.  What I will mention is that this game has no soul.  It’s like our delightful series found itself face-to-face with a Dementor from “Harry Potter” one day and did not make it away unscathed.  This game is soulless, and that is why, even though it can be fun, it is a dirty, rotten, no good, “Banjo-Kazooie” game.

            For one thing, the game in no way even resembles previous games of the series.  The first two involved the teamwork of Banjo and Kazooie, where Kazooie could attack with her beak and shoot eggs, fly, and run up steep hills with her hardcore talons, while Banjo, I must admit, is not good for much else but toting Kazooie around and grabbing onto ledges.  And not being as mean.  But still.  Now both characters are actually pretty useless.  Kazooie carries around this magic wrench that can pick up stuff, and Banjo drives.  They retain none of their previous skills whatsoever, except for walking.  And even that they don’t need, as the game revolves entirely around vehicles, which also has no relation to the series.  What, because Banjo got turned into a sentient van once, the series is all about cars now?  I think not.

            So the entire game, every bit of it, involves talking to a bunch of soulless versions of characters from the original two games, but devoid of any humor or personality like they used to have, and completing challenges with vehicles.  While the vehicle idea can be fun, as you can not only use quite a variety, like cars, planes, boats, helicopters, which can jump and shoot and carry things, but you can also pretty much build anything you like, as well.  This can be a fun concept, and I did like building some crazy vehicles and finding creative ways to win challenges.  It just has no place in a “Banjo-Kazooie” game.  They should have created a new series in which to use this idea.  I wouldn’t have bought it, but there was no need to sacrifice our poor bear and bird.  It doesn’t feel like a “Banjo-Kazooie” game in the slightest, when Grunty is driving all over the place, while I’m chasing her down with a tank.  You can include music from the original games and have characters that look, on the outside, like familiar characters, but it is not a “Banjo-Kazooie” game.  It just isn’t.

            So I can’t say I hated every minute of this game.  I did have fun, while at the same time being disappointed time and time again as characters I used to like demonstrated that all their charm and personality was indeed sucked from them.  This game is just a soulless imposter, parading about with “Banjo-Kazooie” in the title.  It’s a real shame, not so much that such a bad “B-K” game was made, but that this great series has this stain on its reputation now.  “Still don’t like the vehicle-based gameplay?” asks LOG during a loading screen.  The fact that you even had to ask, Rareware, means you know full well that fans wouldn’t be happy with the changes, so either make us an actually good “B-K” game or never make one again.  I can’t stand to look at zombified “B-K” characters ever again.

Ducks and Bolts

 

Retro Rumble: Banjo-Kazooie vs Donkey Kong 64

“Banjo-Kazooie” and “Donkey Kong 64” are two games I really enjoy for the N64, and My Two Caps discusses the good and bad aspects of both. An interesting read.

Top Songs from Banjo-Tooie

Here’s my top 10 songs for “Banjo-Tooie”, sequel to “Banjo-Kazooie”.  This game has better music and is less, well, cutesy, so I think it’s better than its predecessor.  Once again, I just included my favorite versions of the songs.  And links to youtube.

            10. “Final Battle” is the theme for the final battle against Gruntilda.  Even though she is just a skeleton now, she still puts up quite a fight.  Around 1:07, they start having a few small parts with the Gruntilda’s Lair theme from “Banjo-Kazooie”.  This music fits a tough battle well.  A ridiculously tough battle.

            9. “Isle O’ Hags” is the main area you go through to get to all the worlds.  I always liked this music.  It kind of depresses me, though.  I dunno why, just does.

            8. “Cloud Cuckooland” is the theme for the eighth world.  This place is really odd and includes such things as a castle made of jell-o and a giant wedge of smelly cheese.  Weirdest of all are the flat things that pop out of the ground with cash register ka-ching sounds that attack with sausages and flowers and stuff.  The music is odd, too, which makes it fun.

            7. “Glitter Gulch Mine” is the theme to the second world, complete with enemies that jump out of the ground and say, “Yee haw!”  I can play a good chunk of this on my guitar.  I always thought this was a fun song.  But, where the darn is that donkey?  Why is a donkey down in a mine?  How’d it even climb down the rope?

            6. “Spiral Mountain” has a sadder version of its theme in this game than it did in “Banjo-Kazooie”, and I like it better.  The other version was too happy.

            5. “Hailfire Peaks (Fire)” is the theme for the fire side of the seventh world.  There is an ice side, too.  I like this theme a lot.  I think the music fits this place well, and it even includes the sound of bubbling lava.

            4. “Credits” has a version of the “Banjo-Kazooie” theme.  (A different version of this also ended up in my “Banjo-Kazooie” top 10.  Because it’s that good.)

            3. “Mayahem Temple” is the first world, and I think it has pretty fun music.  I like the beginning with the bird noises and the voice (which sounds strangely like Mumbo…).  I don’t know what the sound at 0:50 is.  Perhaps the squeal of someone getting shot by one of those dart-shooting statues.

            2. “Jolly Roger’s Lagoon” is the theme for the fourth world.  I always liked this music very much.  It’s a very pleasant song.

            1. “Grunty Industries”, the sixth world, has the best music.  I love this.  I spent so much time here just listening to the music.  Factories always seem to have the best music, for some reason.  My favorite part is 1:21-1:55.

Banjo-Duckie

Top Songs from Banjo-Kazooie

I decided to do my top 10 songs from “Banjo-Kazooie”, a fun game for the Nintendo 64.  This game is still one of my favorite after all these years and has lots of fun music.  There are several versions of many of the songs, so I just chose my favorite.

            10. “Secret” is played in very secret levels of the game Rareware didn’t intend for us to get to.  (I chose the version that plays in Rusty Bucket Bayand Treasure Trove Cove.)  I like this song, even though it’s short.  It’s possibly in my top 10 because it reminds me of how exciting it was to finally get the secret items.  Anyway, if you’re curious about the story behind the secrets, Rareware planned on something called Stop ‘n’ Swap where you could get secrets in this game and do something with the next game, “Banjo-Tooie”, by switching cartridges while the console is on, an idea they abandoned considering that is a good way to kill your Nintendo 64.  They left the secret eggs and ice key in the game, though, and if you enter some codes, you can open up the areas where they are hidden.  (The codes are all rhymes.  For example, one is “Don’t you go and tell her about the secret in her cellar.”)  I did this, and while you get absolutely nothing for collecting the items, it is still fun.  The fanfare at the beginning also plays in “Donkey Kong 64”, I think, when you open the door to each world boss.

            9. “Mad Monster Mansion (Church)” is the music that plays in the spooky church.  Much is a variation of the main theme for this world, but not all of it.  My favorite part has always been 0:53-1:14.

            8. “Click Clock Wood”, the last world, has different versions of the song for every season.  This is my favorite, spring.  It is nice and cheery and makes me almost forget about the dozens of times I have fallen to my death here.

            7. “Gobi’s Valley” is the theme of the desert world.  The area is named after a camel named Gobi who just can’t seem to catch a break.  Our protagonists, Banjo and Kazooie, follow him through several worlds and even into the sequel, stealing his water at every chance they get.

            6. “Inside Clanker” is played inside the big mechanical whale, Clanker, who is Grunty’s garbage disposal.  (Actually, maybe he’s a shark.  But, why does he have a blowhole AND gills?  I never noticed that until just recently.)  Poor Clanker.  I always liked this music.  My favorite part starts at 1:14.  It took me a while to figure out how to get here, though.  Clanker sounds like he’s got a rumbly tummy.

            5. “Clanker’s Cavern” was the third world and a beast of a level.  Oh, the number of times I drowned deep down under the water, trying to release the chains holding Clanker down.  I guess no good deed goes unpunished.  I like the music, though.  It fits the level well, with the dirty water and the pipes and stuff.  I bet it smells weird here.

            4. “Gruntilda’s Lair” is the theme for the location of the same name and begins with a laugh from our rhyming witch antagonist, Gruntilda.  You must go through this area to get to every world in the game.  I very much like this music.  I heard this song came from a really weird song about a teddy bear picnic….

            3. During the “Credits” plays a nice dramatic version of the “Banjo-Kazooie” theme.  I find myself humming this at very random times.

            2. “Rusty Bucket Bay” is played in an area where you explore a ship in a polluted bay.  This area includes almost unavoidable drowning, a machine room with a bottomless pit, and explosive boxes.  Good times.  This song is hard to hum.

            1. “Rusty Bucket Bay Machine Room” is the theme for a room that is the embodiment of all that is evil in the world, the machine room of the Rusty Bucket.  That consists of a bottomless pit somehow.  A bottomless pit inside of a boat?  Yes, a bottomless pit.  Inside of a boat.  Not to mention you get to jump around on spinning cogs, jump through the blades of spinning fans, and cross rotating platforms.  Despite all this, I very much like the music.  I like the squeaking sounds in the background.  Oh, the nightmarish memories this music will bring back.

Rusty Ducket Bay

The Return

I recently finished “Donkey Kong Country Returns”.  It took about a week, but I kind of rushed so I could get to some new Playstation 2 games I recently got.  So naughty.

            Anyway, I was very excited that they finally made a Donkey Kong Country game again.  Poor Donkey Kong hasn’t had many good games ever since Rareware stopped making them about 10 years ago or so.  What I believe to be the last decent Donkey Kong game before this one is “Donkey Kong 64”, but the very best are “DK Country 1” and “DKC2” (3 was not quite as great), made around 1994 and 1995, I believe.  But, as I said, after “DK64”, Rareware started working for Microsoft rather than Nintendo and could no longer make Donkey Kong games.  Oh, what a dark day that was.

            But, enough of that, even though this important information will no doubt end up in history textbooks someday.  You’re welcome for the lesson.  Finally, along came “DKC Returns”, made by Retro Studios, who used to make Metroid (I don’t know if they still do).  I wondered if they could make a game to rival the originals, and alas, they did!  Oh, happy day!  DK fans rejoice!

            So as you can tell, this game was a delight.  It is very fun, with lovely graphics.  The backgrounds are so detailed.  The game is side-scrolling like the originals, and Donkey can now do a ground pound to stun enemies, break things, etc. and blow on things like dandelion fluff and candles to get items and put out the fire on flaming enemies.  When you get Diddy, he rides on DK’s back and uses his jetpack to help you jump farther.  You can also collect puzzle pieces to unlock things like concept art, which is fun.  I unlocked very few so far.  And instead of one hit per Kong, it’s two hits each before you die.  Despite this, the game was still quite a challenge, but you can use Super Guide to get you through areas you simply can’t do.  (I only used it for small bits twice, never a whole level.)

            There are also some songs from the original games, which filled me with much glee.  My favorite song is the factory music from “DKC 1”.  There are still mine cart levels, too,TreeTopTown, a factory, the jungle.  Two of the animal friends returned, as well, Rambi the rhino and Squawks the parrot.  You can still ride Rambi and go on a destructive rampage, but Squawks just helps you find puzzle pieces now.  He used to carry you around, which didn’t make sense how a large parrot could tote around a gorilla and a chimp and shoot yellow things that looked like cheetohs but weren’t from his mouth, but still.

            The Kremlings, Donkey’s banana-stealing crocodile enemies throughout all of the original DKC games and DK64, plus a few newer ones, did not return, but were replaced by banana-stealing tikis.  I would’ve preferred the Kremlings, but the tikis are actually a fine replacement.  They can also apparently hypnotize people (well, animals), except not Donkey for some reason.  How convenient.

            Still no mini sheep.  What’s going on?!  The tikis are cute, though.  My favorite is the one that you see in the first cut scene in the game and is on the right side of the cover.

            Now I have some questions about Donkey Kong and his bananas.  He lives in a jungle where you would think banana trees must be quite abundant, so why do people keep stealing his bananas and not just pick their own?  And why does Donkey go on these dangerous quests just to get back his bananas when he, too, could just pick his own again and start a new hoard?  Why does he even need a banana hoard?  It’s more than he can eat.  Is he greedy?  Does he have a mental disorder?  Is he someday going to end up on that “Buried Alive” TV show about hoarders?  Does his disorder stress out DK’s friends and family like it does to people in real life?  Are they enablers or do they, too, think that hoarding bananas in a jungle is a normal thing to do?  Last of all, is it normal for me to attempt a deep psychological analysis of a fictional ape?  We may never know.

            By the way, my picture of Xigbar is done.  He’s on the Fan Art page, if you want to check it out….

            Edit: Forget to mention, Mr. Game makes a small appearance in this game.  I won’t tell you where, but watch out for him….

Donkey Duck