Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Guest Review - Banjo-Threeie

Today, Trophy Unlocked is proud to present a guest review from The Autistic Gamer. The text below this paragraph in yellow is the text he has presented to me to post in his place. Here, our guest review is of the highly-anticipated Banjo-Threeie:

After waiting as long as we did for this, I'm overjoyed that we finally got to play a PROPER sequel to Banjo-Tooie. Guys, this week I have the distinct honor of reviewing Rare's collect-em-up platformer masterpiece Banjo-Threeie. Without any further ado, let's get to it.


Banjo-Threeie takes place thirteen years after the conclusion of Banjo-Tooie. Banjo-Threeie begins with Banjo, Kazooie, and a host of familiar faces having a party at Banjo and Kazooie's place which has been fully rebuilt since Grunty's attack in the last game (Bottles makes a rather funny and risque joke about contractors!). They are celebrating the anniversary of Banjo and Kazooie's original triumph over Gruntilda (yet, oddly, Tooty is neither present nor mentioned) when their celebration is interrupted by a sudden thunderstorm. They crowd inside the tiny house, with Mumbo crammed hilariously up against the window to witness a flash of lightning and what would appear to be Gruntilda's shadow on one of the walls of the area. Sure enough, the witch is back. Using a very powerful spell that can only be used once every 13 years under the full moon, Gruntilda has regained not only her original powers, but several more, making her essentially a demigod. Mumbo watches as a newly-empowered Gruntilda returns to her lair, certain that nothing good can come of this.

After a beautifully rendered cutscene and some more exposition, we find out that Grunty stole the Crystal Jiggy from Master Jiggywiggy's temple and is using it to break the world apart and reassemble it as she pleases. Banjo and Kazooie must chase after her, recovering Jiggies and bringing them to Jiggywiggy himself to build the only thing that can counteract the power of the Crystal Jiggy should it fall into the wrong hands.


True Banjo-Kazooie gameplay! We get to explore lush, huge worlds, collecting Jiggies and doing quests for weird animals; CLASSIC! Banjo-Threeie is a MUCH bigger game than its predecessors, sending bear and bird from the hub area of the Jiggy Dimension (a lush island floating in empty space) to both all-new worlds like Shimmerlight City and Grimy Grotto and twisted recreations of BK and BT worlds called "Grunty Worlds". The game has a total of twenty-six to explore, each with its own ten Jiggies to find as well as new moves from both Bottles and Jamjars with Bottles being found in the Grunty Worlds and Jamjars in the normal worlds. In order to make progression more natural, most of the duo's moves from the previous games have been lost and are re-learned through the game's main storyline. However, that doesn't mean that the mole brothers haven't come up with some kick-ass new moves in the interim. Abilities like the Honeybear Hover, Breegul Barrier and Superbear Slam are welcome additions to the duo's repertoire. Mumbo and Humba (long since married) combine their magic to give bear and bird ten new transformations like the Lobster, Hawk, and Super Mech, wherein Banjo transforms into a Gundam-like robot piloted by trigger-happy Kazooie. Hands down the most fun BK transformation EVER, especially when Gobi, tired of the duo constantly smashing him for his water, attacks them with his own mech in the Gruntified version of Gobi's Valley.

Of course, who could forget about Rare's re-inclusion of Stop 'n Swop? In addition to porting the XBLA releases of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie to all platforms Banjo-Threeie is playable on, collecting all of the Stop 'n Swop items in Banjo-Kazooie and transporting them all the way to Threeie will unlock an entire new world: the illusive Fungus Forest as it was originally designed (albeit with updated geometry, of course). In the very center of that area is an apology note from Rare stating, "Sorry we took so long.". You are forgiven, Rare.


Banjo-Threeie, even despite coming out over a decade after its prequels, puts the others to shame graphically. Each of Banjo's hairs and Kazooie's feathers is individually rendered for a fantastic, Pixar-like gaming experience. The characters, while still cartoony in overall appearance, have been overhauled to look even better than the original gameplay trailer of Watch_Dogs. It's truly a sight to behold these beloved characters in such vivid detail.


Returning triumphantly to the franchise, the incomparable Grant Kirkhope composed the entire soundtrack for the game. Utilizing both remixed tracks from the original games and all-new tracks along with an entire symphony orchestra, the soundtrack of Banjo-Threeie is, literally, music to my ears.

Of course, you can't discuss the audio of this game without mentioning how amazing it was to hear our favorite characters in full voice acting for the first time. The casting was not only perfect, but well executed as well with veteran comedians Jack McBrayer (30 Rock, Wreck-It Ralph) as lovable, naive Banjo and Catherine Tate (Doctor Who, The Catherine Tate Show) cast as the bombastic Breegul, Kazooie. The two of them have surprisingly perfect chemistry and work well with one another, but the entire voice cast is just spectacular. Alan Rickman (Harry Potter, Dogma) performs Master Jiggywiggy exactly as I would have hoped and I never tire of hearing the amazing Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs, Bravoman) pulling off the voice of Bottles and Patrick Warburton (Family Guy, The Venture Bros.) voicing Jamjars expertly.


This was a game worth waiting for. Banjo-Threeie is about as close as you can get to perfect. Truly, Rare has returned to glory with this release. ...except that this game, regrettably, never happened. Maybe in some parallel universe, there's a parallel me raving about how amazing this game is. Unfortunately, that's not what happened, but it's still fun to think about how amazing this game COULD have been, given the chance.

Happy April Fools Day from Trophy Unlocked!

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