Review: Banj-no, maybe!
Banjo Pilot began as Diddy Kong Pilot back in 2001, but because Rare migrated from Nintendo to Microsoft, it basically had a bear replace the monkey and changed the game's name accordingly. Even though the game takes on the theme of Rare's own creative platform character, there's little creativity concerning the way it takes to the sky. Although it follows the kart racing formula very well, like the millions of Mario Kart clones out there, Banjo Pilot is guilty of offering almost nothing new to the genre. More or less, Banjo sits in a cockpit and can travel vertically, both up (ooooo!) and down (ahhh!), but the entire experience stays grounded in terms of originality.
Like every other kart racing game, Banjo Pilot is built in same basic fashion. There are modes of Grand Prix, quick race, and time trials as well as a challenge mode, which has you collect jigsaw puzzle pieces while racing Bottles the mole. Players can earn advantages such as speed secrets or unlock battle stages and other playable pilot characters in the Cheato section of the game.
The gameplay takes place on tracks in which players can begin with a speed boost, if correctly timed. There are also circular zippers that supply extra speed as well as honeycomb item boxes that provide weapons like a shield, missiles and droppings. It's all been done before, but now it involves a bear, a bird, and a bunch of their friends.
Something that can be considered novel in the game is the final stage of each Grand Prix circuit. After players acquire enough points through racing, they must beat the ?boss? character in a sky duel. The boss and your character take turns leading, and then shooting from behind with weapons supplied by the honeycomb boxes. Even though this becomes stale rather quickly since each boss reacts the same way, it's a fresh way to claim the trophy and remains a unique, though small, feature within Banjo Pilot. In addition to dogfights with other Banjo Pilot characters, it's also possible to battle it out with friends. The game supports up to four-players in its multiplayer mode via the link cable, which can be worthwhile.
As long as you're able to enjoy the Banjo-Kazooie elements, you'll be pleased with the graphics and music Banjo Pilot puts forth. The game boots up with a familiar jingle from the franchise as well as what must be Banjo's ?Yahuck!? mating call. It really stays cutesy through the game, especially with colorful visuals that light up the Game Boy Advance screen quite nicely. It's just a shame that the level design is flat because a flying game like this could have used some flashy environmental touches to keep me amazed while in the air.