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Game Profile
Game Boy
GENRE: Platformer
September 10, 2003

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Banjo Pilot


 Written by D'Marcus Beatty  on November 05, 2003

Review: It's been a while, but the bear and bird are back!

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge is the sequel to Rare's N64 platformer, Banjo-Kazooie. The original game starred a comic bear and bird duo, who worked in concert, often using each other as weapons in strange and original ways. The title was lauded by critics and players alike, and was a solid title, although it never quite achieved the console mascot status of Mario or Sonic. BK: GR gives a fair attempt to build upon the formula started years ago by that almost classic adventure.

Grunty's Revenge takes place just after the end of the original Banjo-Kazooie, and the ridiculous (but fittingly so) storyline plays out when the game is started. After the animal pair bury the witch Gruntilda under a boulder, Klungo the inventor transfers her mind to one of his giant robots. She then kidnaps Kazooie, and disappears through a portal in time. Banjo must follow and rescue his friend, and with the help of Mumbo Jumbo the witch doctor, he follows Gruntilda through time to rescue his friend and companion.

Although the storyline isn't more implausible than any other platformer, it doesn't quite absorb the gamer like it should. There is always an element of distance from the game, a separation that one doesn't generally encounter in better, more enthralling titles.

The graphics are good, but confusing at times. The colors are bright, and objects are well illustrated and easily recognizable, but depth perception proves to be difficult to register. Gamers may wander about aimlessly, looking for the next section because the graphic engine makes it hard to realize that the steep cliff that looks like it is unreachable is actually the next step. Or sometimes levels may appear lower than they actually are, so that gamers may try in vain to leap onto a level that is too high. Oftentimes, it is necessary to leap about at random to try and discern which platforms are accessible.

The gameplay is reminiscent of the original Banjo-Kazooie. Although players don't have access to Kazooie at the game's beginning, once Banjo finds Kazooie the pair will be able to use their tag-team attacks on enemies. Just like the original title, you are introduced to these abilities gradually, giving players a chance to adapt to new moves and eventually master their application. Finding Kazooie greatly improves the protagonists' repertoire of moves, such as Banjo's ability to use Kazooie as a means of short, succinct flight, or jabbing Kazooie's beak at enemies like a sword. In addition to this, Banjo can also transform into a number of creatures and objects, including a mouse, squid, candle and tank. There are also a number of minigames to be played, such as fishing and racing. One of the earliest that players will encounter involves recovering baby chicks!

The audio in the game is fairly good, offering music and sound effects appropriate for the game and setting. However, even it isn't sufficient to combat one of the game's biggest drawbacks: the staple of collection. Most platformers feel like their protagonists must collect something, whether it is gold coins, stars, or insignias. Rare went all out on the collection elements, requiring players to collect coins, jigsaw puzzle pieces, jinjo birds, and notes. When collecting items becomes more of a chore than actual fun, as it does in Grunty's Revenge, platforming elements lose their appeal.

Bottom Line
Overall, Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge is a fairly fun experience, especially for fans of the first or players looking for some portable platforming. Although the experience is short, if you enjoyed the original, you may want to try it.

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