Banjo Kazooie Vs Mario 64
Okay confession time, I’ve never played Banjo Kazooie. That is until this week where I ploughed through the epic platformer in eighteen hours. I played the N64 constantly back in the day but 007 and a certain Italian plumber dominated my playtime. So naturally the groundbreaking Mario 64 holds a lot of nostalgic value to me.
I’m not sure why I never played Banjo Kazooie. I would have to put it down to the assumption that it couldn’t touch Mario 64 as a serious platformer contender. Banjo Kazooie received critical appraisal and a sturdy fan base deeming it better than Mario 64. Now that I’ve played Rare’s platformer, do I think the same?
It pleases me to say that after finishing the game, Banjo Kazooie is superb, a polished platformer with some serious challenge (OMG the final boss) fantastic graphics and quirky characters. One of the main strengths lies in the wealth of content the game has to offer. There are ten huge worlds to explore each with a unique environment and a memorable jaunty tune that will put a smile on your face (Freezeezy Peak is a classic). Each world has ten jigsaw pieces to collect which opens new worlds and also one hundred musical notes which unlock areas of the Hub world that leads to these the new worlds. The ten jigsaw pieces littered through each level have to be found by various platform challenges, completing puzzles or collecting items for characters. Collecting is very addictive in Banjo Kazooie: there’s red feathers that make you fly, gold feathers to make you invulnerable to attack, eggs which act as ammunition and much more. Considering these positives, Banjo Kazooie is a better game than Mario 64. There’s so much to do it will make your head spin. But I still prefer Mario 64. I prefer the unapologetic dedication to platforming. Like Banjo, Mario’s worlds are still epic in scope but aren’t as densely packed with stuff to do. Instead they offer more in the way of jumping to point A and jumping to point B.
Rare did an unbelievable job with Banjo Kazooie’s graphics. The lack of processing power with Nintendo 64’s carts meant games on the system suffered from blurry textures. Rare pushed the hardware to the max with the texture work here and even surpassed it with what I’ve seen in Banjo Tooie. Mario 64 didn’t have the stunning environmental detail seen in Banjo Kazooie, but both share the same vibrancy in colour palette.
For me Mario 64 is also a better game because it does some very important game tropes better than Banjo. For one the camera is very flawed in Banjo Kazooie whereas I’ve never experienced any noticeable frustrations with Mario 64’s. More importantly, despite the content of Banjo’s worlds, the platforming is even tighter and flawlessly designed in Mario 64.
Banjo Kazooie for me is an excellent game with more to do within its worlds than Mario 64, but significant flaws with level design and camerawork means Mario 64 remains the king of platformers on the coveted Nintendo 64. Mind you the flying sucks in both games.