A New Banjo-Kazooie Game Is Exactly What We Need Right Now
Despite what some of the game's creators say
It’s been 25 years since the “bear and bird” graced us with their presence on the Nintendo 64. Banjo-Kazooie sits atop the pantheon of great Rare Ltd. titles brought to our CRT TV screens in the ’90s.Goldeneye, Jet Force Gemini, Perfect Dark, Diddy Kong Racing, and many others highlighted millions of people’s N64 libraries. In my mind, these are all excellent games from a studio that, sometimes, kept the console afloat and drew in millions of sales.
So why is Banjo-Kazooie on everyone’s mind lately? It’s not just because it hit a milestone birthday. It’s also because a handful of people who worked on the original game have said there is no market for a sequel or remake, and no one wants to make it—Looky here, former Rare Ltd. people. I love your work, but I’m sorry (not sorry); you’re incorrect!
Creators Speak Out
Grant Kirkhope, the composer for the game, spoke to VGC in late June and said that a third mainline entry in the series might never happen because it would be pretty tricky to assemble the right team.
“I think Rare would be open to somebody if they found the right team, but I don’t feel like that team exists. Also, I’m not convinced the audience is there either.”
The original game and the sequel Banjo-Tooie are now on Rare Replay. But playing this extensive roster of Rare games requires an older Xbox or Xbox Game Pass generation. Not everyone has those or can get access to them. And we all know what is happening to the digital marketplace lately in other forms of media like movies. It may hit gaming in a big, wrong way at some point.
I love this series. So yes, there is bias in this article, but you know what? There should be. This franchise has brought joy to millions of players over the years, and it deserves some extra love. Others should experience it for the first time or all over again.
When it comes down to it, Banjo-Kazooie is just a fun, joyful gaming experience and seeing some extra polish (remake or remaster) or a sequel (dubbed Banjo-Threeie) would be incredible. I recently reviewed Clive N’ Wrench, a game that wears its collect-a-thon inspiration on its sleeve and had its creator mention Banjo-Kazooie as a critical motivator for the title. While the match isn’t perfect, the small team that put it together reminded me and many others how much we missed games in this long-lost genre.
It’s not just because collecting notes or jiggies is satisfying, it’s also because, as a gaming culture, it feels like we need a few more light-hearted and friendly experiences occasionally. The indie game scene has many options in this sub-genre, that’s no doubt. But there’s a particular tactile look and feel that a cartoon-like 3D adventure brings with it.
More Banj0-Kazooie for everyone!
There’s a joy to be had in games like this—Banjo-Kazooie and others like it (most were made by Rare). There’s Donkey Kong 64, and in a way, Super Mario 64 also fits that bill. Coming from the 64-bit era is the right time to bring back these beautiful games that many of us remember. Remaking or re-jigging these titles also delivers them to younger generations who either can’t get their hands on an N64, Rare Replay or don’t want to. It allows them to feel this family-friendly joy I’ve been discussing.
As for people like Kirkhope, who created a classic soundtrack, there’s some love still in his heart for the bear and bird. He’s made a remade, remixed version:
Retro gaming and retro game collecting are a wild and crazy business these days. Much of it is unaffordable, and prices are often inflated so the seller can make a quick buck. Preserving games is also a crucial step the industry needs to embrace. Having copies and ROMs of these games will help them live on in our nerdy lives. Creating a new version of something like Banjo-Kazooie encourages preservation and shows companies like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft that these titles are beloved and should be taken care of.
Yes, I did shell out some cash for the photo you see above, but that’s because these characters and these games mean a lot to me. But that’s not an option for thousands if not millions of people. A new Banjo-Kazooie game or a remastered version is needed. First and foremost, to spread the joy it has within its cartridge pins and to keep its legacy alive for more generations of gamers.