The bear & bird are back for another adventure that sees them leaving behind Spiral Mountain & heading for the Isle O’ Hags where a familiar foe awaits.
It has been 2 years since the witch Gruntilda was defeated & buried alive under a huge boulder at the bottom of Spiral Mountain. Banjo, Kazooie & their friends have gone on with their lives. One day while playing poker, Grunty’s sisters (Mingella & Blobbelda) arrive in a huge drilling machine & free the witch. The time buried has been bad for Grunty with her skin rotting off leaving her a skeletal form.
Free & angry she attacks the duo’s house destroying it & killing the mole Bottles in the process. The 3 witches escape down a passage created by Grunty’s sisters when they arrived at Spiral Mountain. Alongside Mumbo, Banjo & Kazooie decide to follow her & swear to stop Grunty once & for all.
Following the trail left by the witches our duo arrive at Jingo Village in the Isle O’ Hags where the King sets them the task of finding the scared & scattered Jingos. The witches however, use their new weapon (Big-O-Blaster) to suck the life-force out of the King & turn him into a zombie. Their plan is to gain enough life-force to give Grunty back her body.
It’s up to Banjo & Kazooie to stop the witches, save the King Jingo, rescue all of his subjects while collecting Jiggys to unlock new worlds, collecting musical notes to learn new moves &, at times, separating to complete sections!
A lot of the tried & tested elements from Banjo-Kazooie return in Tooie…from level designs to collectibles, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Banjo-Tooie is exactly what you would expect from a sequel…take what made the last game good & improve upon it. The designs of many of the levels are some of the best I’ve seen in a 3-D platformer to date with Witchyworld being a personal favourite. Each one oozes variety & collecting every Jiggy, note & Jingo per level is a mammoth but fun task.
The use of Mumbo as a controllable character for periods & the introduction of Humba Wumba to change the bear & bird into a variety of strange creatures/objects (a washing machine in one level) adds more to an already full experience.
Visually Banjo-Tooie is as attractive as its predecessor & manages to improve on certain things such as the inter-connectivity between worlds…every area acting as an extension of the Isle O’ Hags. It feels like a more fully-formed world rather then the teleport mechanic used in Banjo-Kazooie.
Where Banjo-Tooie fails to improve is with its music…not to say that it is bad as the same composer returns but it just doesn’t have any real memorable tunes compared to the incredibly clever Grunty’s lair variation from the first game.
Banjo-Tooie doesn’t set out to make drastic changes to the formula set down by its predecessor & that is a good thing. Gameplay is tweaked & improved in some areas with a much more impressive set of levels. Some frustrations with controls return & a lack of memorable music stops it reaching the highs of Banjo-Kazooie.
The Final Score - 9/10
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