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Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge
game: Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge
four star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: THQ
date posted: 12:00 AM Mon Nov 10th, 2003
last revision: 12:00 AM Mon Nov 10th, 2003

By Eric Qualls

Ah. Good old Rare. Sort of like your favorite little dog. They make messes sometimes (DK64, anyone?) and they'll make you mad (like when they jump ship to work for MS), but its hard not to love them when you think of the great times you have had together. When Microsoft bought Rare last year, a lot of titles had to be put onto the back burner. Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge for the Game Boy Advance was one of those games that was nearing completion but had to be delayed. It isn't readily evident what the extra year or so of development added to the project, but Grunty's Revenge makes it perfectly clear that Rare still knows how to get the most out of a system and produce a fun game even though they aren't working under the Big N's thumb anymore.

The story in Grunty's Revenge is pretty lame, but the gameplay is so tight that the story can be excused. The game takes place right after the first Banjo-Kazooie where the evil witch Gruntilda was trapped under a ten-ton boulder. One of Grunty's minions has built a robot and transferred her spirit into the new Mecha Grunty. Her new scheme for world domination involves traveling back in time to stop Banjo the bear and Kazooie the bird from ever meeting. With the help of the witch doctor Mumbo Jumbo, Banjo and Kazooie are whisked back in time to stop her. Along the way you'll meet up with younger versions of characters that appeared in the N64 games.
Grunty's Revenge plays just like the N64 games. You start out with only limited abilities and earn new attacks as you play through the game. In order to advance you have to pick up musical notes to buy new abilities, collect jigsaw puzzle pieces and Jinjo birds in order to open new worlds, and Mumbo Jumbo tokens so that the good doctor can change you into different forms such as a mouse, tank, or candle. The attacks you open up range from Banjo hitting enemies with his backpack, Kazooie using her beak to peck enemies, the ability to fly short distances, and you are even able to shoot eggs at enemies.

The game has all of the same items and attacks as the console versions, but the similarities don't stop there. The camera is directly overhead and provides an excellent view of the action. You have to swim and climb ladders and do a bit of platform jumping, and it is simply amazing how much this game feels like you are playing the N64 games. The side missions and mini games you can play to earn jigsaw pieces are exactly like what we have seen before, just scaled back a bit. It is a pretty safe bet to say that if you are a fan of Banjo-Kazooie or Banjo-Tooie, you will like Grunty's Revenge because it plays exactly the same way.

The only bad things about Grunty's Revenge, other than the goofy story (going back in the past ... but what if Grunty already caught Kazooie? Wouldn't that mean that she couldn't go back in time to save herself?), is that the boss battles are pretty weak and the game is extremely short. There are only five levels in the game and due to the limitations of the GBA none of them are particularly huge or complex. You can beat the game in about four hours and then there is maybe another hour of gameplay if you want to collect everything 100%. After you beat it once, there is no reason to go back through and play it again. The game is incredibly fun; it is just too damn short.
The graphics in Grunty's Revenge are extremely impressive. Banjo and Kazooie as well as the enemies are very detailed and simply look amazing. The animation is also very smooth and the game simply looks great. They really do like just like their 3-D counterparts from the N64. The levels look good as well with tons of different backgrounds and lots of variety.

Equally impressive is the sound. The music and sound effects have been recreated perfectly. When you pick up your first note or jigsaw piece and hear the familiar sound effect, you'll know that you are home. Just like the other games, each character has a special sound effect when it is speaking? and the chirps and grunts and groans you loved (or loathed) are all back. The sound is surprisingly high quality and along with the excellent graphics make Grunty's Revenge a gorgeous game to not only look at but listen to as well.

Overall, Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge is worth checking out for Rare fans old and new. The game looks and sounds amazing and the gameplay does an excellent job of mimicking the same feel of the N64 games. The only problem with the game is that it is only about four or five hours long. It is a fun few hours, but once you beat it there is no reason to play through it again. If you can rent it or find it on sale for cheap, it is worth picking up. Die hard Rareware and B-K fans will probably pick it up no matter what, but $30 is a lot to spend on four hours of gameplay.