The 'Shroom:Issue 100/Bonehead Toppings
Good whenever you’re reading this, everyone! And welcome to Bonehead Toppings! In this section you never heard of and will never endure in your life ever again, I will present you with a Top 10 List. And for this special 'Shroom issue I have chosen yet again to talk about two of my favorite platformers of all time, Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie! Released in 1998 (Banjo-Kazooie) and 2000 (Banjo-Tooie), these two masterpieces brought to us by Rareware, before they began melting faster than a wicked witch who just got hit by a water balloon, were a huge success! And for good reason; the gameplay was fun, the characters were likeable, the graphics were great at the time, the music was sweet, what’s not to enjoy? Well there are a few things not to enjoy; I’m not going to act like it’s flawless. But that’s not why we’re here for today. Today I’m giving you my top 10 best Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie levels!
Note: I’m not going to talk about the music of each world because they are all awesome.
Other Note: Please keep in mind that this list is subjective and I’m only talking about the levels I personally enjoyed in these two games.
#10- Gobi’s Valley
I’m starting off this list with Banjo Kazooie's desert world, Gobi's Valley. This one has everything you’d expect from a desert level: Sand, an oasis, pyramids, a giant sphinx with a nose problem, a snake charmer, flying carpets and a camel. The pyramids are accessible and in each one of them there’s a new challenge that awaits the player. Sometimes it’s a maze cursed by an ancient king with a hilarious name, sometimes it’s a memory match minigame and other times it’s home to the aforementioned snake charmer and his snake. That doesn’t mean the outside area is any less fun, though; you also get to fly through a bunch of rings or a giant cactus to get certain collectibles and that’s pretty awesome. If you enjoy desert levels, this one’s for you! Make sure to give Gobi the camel a hard time before you leave. And make sure PETA never hears about it.
#09- Jolly Roger’s Lagoon
If you know me, you’d probably be surprised to see this make it to this list. I hate water levels, and it’s very rare that I come close to even tolerating one. And in Banjo-Tooie, not only can I stand its water level, but I also kind of like it. I don’t have to worry about running out of air because Mumbo’s job in this world is to oxygenate all the water. This means I can actually explore the environment without the imminent threat of perishing like a moron underwater. The swimming mechanics in this game, thanks to a random fish you save in Spiral Mountain, are way better than the first game as they allow you to swim faster (and have more air bubbles, but like I said that doesn’t matter). The world has several areas, like the sunken ship, the ruins of Atlantis, a giant UFO and a minigame area that can only be accessed in submarine form. The boss battle with Lord Woo Fak Fak, a poor sweet innocent tyrannical fish you fight after you break into his house, was a lot of fun for me.
The only problem I had with this level is that I find the Wumba transformation boring. I dunno. I never like vehicle transformations in Banjo-Kazooie games. Maybe it’s because my subconscious holds them accountable for being an inspiration for something that ruins the spirit of the series.
Anyway, that’s all I have to say about this world. Next!
#08- Treasure Trove Cove
Ah Treasure Trove Cove, the second world in Banjo-Kazooie. A soothing beach level where you can visit a small pirate ship with a captain who can’t swim, go treasure hunting, have a friendly chat with a hermit crab, and find Gruntilda’s damn sweet booty. You can also swim a little. In fact, let’s go swimming for a while. What could possibly go wr-
Aaaand that gave a whole generation thalassophobia. Anyway, this level is great for a number of reasons. There’s the fact that this is the first time I’m introduced to the flight ability. Now, before I played this game the only other 3D platformer I experienced flight in was Super Mario 64. And I hated it there. So I thought it was going to be something similar with Banjo-Kazooie and that I would hate it too.
The atmosphere is nice and like I said it captures the beauty of a beach level and even though this has no Mumbo transformation every jiggy is super fun to get and my personal favorite is the one you get from Little Lockup. This is also the world that offers you the ability to enter cheat codes that you can get from Cheato. This can be accomplished after draining this world’s sandcastle and gain access to its letter chamber where you can enter said codes. While Mumbo’s Mountain, the first world, wasn’t bad THIS is the level that really got me sucked in the game. Moving on!
You know what’s cooler than shark-infested waters? Everything. But more specifically: Dinosaurs! Banjo-Tooie’s Terrydactyland is a world filled with different species of dinosaurs as well as different tribes of cavemen. Various challenges await our bear and bird such as climbing the mountain and knocking down an angry pterodactyl parent who thinks you stole his eggs and then retrieving them, helping the children of a sad styracosaurus mother (which is laborious), defeating a rather hostile tribe and getting rid of a chompasorus’ stomach ulcers. Something unique to this level is that Mumbo’s magic has an effect on Wumba’s: Mumbo can enlarge her wigwam which results in Banjo and Kazooie getting transformed into a giant kickass T-Rex who can destroy every foe in his way (when the wigwam is in normal size, they transform into a baby T-rex). I would’ve loved if the giant T-Rex transformation played a much bigger role than just scaring a caveman away or stepping on a switch though. And while I liked the Terry boss battle, it would’ve been much better if the duo had to face a much larger dinosaur such as Chompa or Stomponadon. But aside from that, I had a great time with this world.
Freezeezy Peak, from the first game, has some great visuals. Much like Treasure Trove Cove, this rather vast ice level gives us the chance to enjoy said visuals using the flight mechanics again. From the giant snowman in the middle that you could climb, to the beautiful Christmas tree that you light up.
There are a bunch of fun characters here too, like Boggy the polar bear who you can sled-race against and his children who you can make less miserable if you find them some gifts. You can also learn how to Beak Bomb; an aerial attack essential to acquire several jiggies within the level and also the only effective way to kill those evil top-hat wearing snowmen. I don’t like the walrus transformation in this level though. I don’t know, I always found it too slow.
That’s my only issue with the level though. Everything else about it is enjoyable.
First impressions, especially in a sequel game, are every important. They’re pretty much the first step towards the opinion you form about the game itself, if it’s better or worse than its predecessor, worth playing or not. Being the first world of Banjo-Tooie, Mayhem Temple was the perfect level to suck the player into the game. In this Mayan-inspired world, we get to see some new aspects that Tooie added. For instance, Mumbo is no longer in charge of the transformations but instead he uses some Magic Pads to perform different kind of spells that help the duo access new areas. Speaking of that, this world has my personal favorite Mumbo Magic; he summons the Golden Goliath, a giant golden feline statue that can be controlled for a specific period of time and is used to open some doors and walk through quicksand unharmed.
This is also the first time Banjo and Kazooie meets Wumba, who in this game is in charge of transforming them (in Mayhem Temple, they are transformed into a Stony, the native creatures inhabiting this world).
Other gems include an FPS segment ending with an epic boss battle with some sort of Mayhem-yan deity, as well as sneaking around a caveman and a snake to acquire certain items. One important point of interest is the Code Chamber where, much like the sandcastle in the first game, you can enter various cheat codes given to you by Cheato, Grunty’s spellbook. I love this world and I think it’s a great way to kick off a great sequel.
Everyone but your old grumpy neighbor whose house you TP during Halloween loves theme parks. So the idea to have a theme part…themed world is pretty neat. The level has several attraction creatively put together and some of them have minigames you have to beat to get a jiggy. The level is divided into four main areas: A haunted zone, a space zone, a wild west-themed zone and Area 51. Additionally, it has a big tent that can only be accessed after collecting some tickets and giving them to Conga, a returning character from Banjo-Kazooie. When entered, the duo comes face to face with Mr. Patch, a giant inflatable dinosaur who serves as the world’s boss. While some of the jiggies are frustrating to get. Well, specifically ONE jiggy...
And while the Wumba transformation is a van and uhh…
This level is still so visually interesting that I can look past that easily and put it in the number 4 spot.
#03-Click Clock Woods
Hoo boy. Down to the last three. These three levels are just so good that I had a hard time choosing which one to put in front of another. Okay, let’s start with probably everyone’s favorite level in the first game: Click Clock Woods. Being the final world accessible in Banjo-Kazooie, Click Clock Woods is a forest level which gives you access to said forest in Fall, winter, Spring and Summer. This of course affects some of its creatures! You could follow the blossoming of a flower throughout the four seasons and be rewarded by a jiggy in the end. Or perhaps you’d like to feed a baby bird until it grows into a mighty eagle. You could help a poor beaver access his house. All these tasks can only be fully accomplished by visiting the forest at different times of the year. For example, if you want the eagle to grow up, it must be hatched in spring, fed in summer and fall, and collect the jiggy in winter. Gobi the camel is back too and you get to abuse him again! Mumbo is present in this world too with his final and probably the most useful transformation: The bee. The whole level is just a charming and delightful experience and is a perfect final world. Definitely deserves its third spot and while it’s not my all time favorite, I can understand why it is for some people.
#02-Mad Monster Mansion
There is literally one reason that this is higher than Click Clock Woods: It’s a Halloween-themed level. Aka my favorite types of levels. It has everything I’d want in a Halloween themed level: A haunted mansion, ghosts, skeletons, bats, a graveyard, a hedge maze, a giant Ouija board.
Many enemies here can’t even be killed with regular attacks and you’ll have to use the gold feathers which make it a bit challenging. The jiggies are so fun to get, I loved every single task you had to accomplish to get to one yes even the one where you can to go inside a toilet. The Mumbo transformation is adorable. The atmosphere is great. Everything about this level brings me joy when playing it. Every time I intend to play Banjo-Kazooie again I look forward to getting to it. While Click Clock Woods was also great, I just didn’t have as much fun with it as I did with this one. Probably biased since I’m easily manipulated by the beauty of haunted levels, but this is my section so I can do what I want. Beat it.
Question: What do you get when you mix lava and ice? Answer: One of the best worlds in history of platform games that also happens to be the best world in the Banjo-Kazooie games in my opinion. First, the surroundings look pretty damn good: flaming rocks falling from the sky, evil flame dudes chasing you on a carpet, flaming hands coming to get you from the walls. You get to play the kickball tournament from Mayhem Temple again, and also go inside a volcano. And that’s just the lava side! The ice side has a dead alien that Mumbo has to revive, a bunch of yetis and ice cubes as enemies. The Boggy family lives here too. And Mildred the ice cube. Oh, she’s not a bad person. All she wants is to reunite with her loving husband. So naturally Banjo and Kazooie help her find him and they live happily ever after.
Nah jk they murder her to get a Jinjo.
Yeah let’s just... talk about the boss battles. There are two boss battles here, with an ice dragon from the ice side, and a fire dragon from the lava side. They can both be defeated using fire and ice eggs. But not killed.
They’re bad guys but you don’t kill them. Unlike sweet innocent Mildred-SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL RARE? Ah anyway, from all the worlds I’ve played through in these two masterpieces, I enjoy this one most. Keep in mind that it doesn’t mean the ones who aren’t on this list aren’t fun to explore (except Rusty Bucket Bay), but these 10 are just more enjoyable. One more thing before I check out. As many B-K fans know, the franchise was slaughtered by the Xbox game Nuts & Bolts. However, recently, a new layer of hope has emerged: A spiritual sequel made by the same team behind Kazooie and Tooie called Yooka Laylee is in the making. They have a kickstarter right here. If you can help fund the project further, please do so. If not, just share it as much as you can! Thanks!