You don't have to wait two years for the sequel this time: following the restoration of the original bear 'n' bird outing in 2008 comes their second excellent adventure in 2009. XBLA is once again the battlefield, so prepare to confront a skeletal Grunty, her ugly sisters, Klungo, Gruntlings, Minjos and the odd unfortunate zombie Jinjo.
In a relatively uncommon example of Rare leaping from one game straight into production on its sequel, Banjo-Tooie first saw the light of day on N64 consoles in late 2000. The plan was to carry over the fundamental gameplay and trademark sense of humour from Banjo-Kazooie, and make everything else bigger, bolder and better.
Which was just as well, as with nemesis Gruntilda exhumed by her coven (now back up to its full three members) and hellbent on a new and even more destructive scheme, Banjo and Kazooie were going to need a substantial kick up the arsenal and plenty of help from debutantes such as Jamjars, Honey B and Humba Wumba. Established mole sidekick Bottles was sadly out of the running for reasons including his temporary jaunt into the afterlife.
This timely sequel went down a storm with an audience already won over by its predecessor. The team's determination to expand the Banjo experience resulted in eight vast interconnected worlds, momentous boss battles, a sweeping parade of characters and transformations, all-new minigames and multiplayer modes, and of course the ability for bear and bird to split up and tackle challenges individually. Not to mention playable Mumbo. Oh yes, playable Mumbo.
For Banjo-Tooie's return in 2009, the responsibility of porting the game to Xbox LIVE Arcade once again fell to 4J Studios. This meant that players could expect the same level of audiovisual gloss applied to Banjo-Kazooie in 2008 – and Tooie was already several steps above Kazooie on the technological ladder even back in the day with its interactive soundtrack, overhauled camera system and ramped-up textures and lighting effects.
The original Tooie dev team also got involved and suggested some updates of their own, mainly UI tweaks that they felt were right to introduce given the benefit of hindsight. The framerate was given a boost, the addition of leaderboards and Achievements went without saying, and extra Stop 'n' Swop connectivity was also promised for the XBLA version to soothe the anxieties of those still haunted by the mystery eight-and-a-half years on.
Banjo-Tooie ultimately landed on Xbox Live Arcade on April 29th, 2009. So if your interest is piqued by this tale of Banjo and Kazooie's last major clash with Grunty before the events of Nuts & Bolts, amble over to XBLA now to join the bear and bird in their encore outing. After all, nobody wants to go up against a fat skeletal witch, her sisters and her giant suction machine without proper backup.
- Platforms: Xbox 360
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Developer: Rare/4J Studios
- Released: 2009-04-29
- Game Rating: US: E | EU: 3+
- Players: 1-4
- Multiplayer Versus
- In-game Dolby Digital
- HDTV 1080p
- Storage Device
Two Years Have Passed...
Kazooie eyed her dwindling pile of coins dejectedly. "Deal the cards, bone face!"
"Mumbo play well, win much of bear and bird's cash," the shaman grinned at Banjo.
With the midnight storm raging outside, Banjo the bear nodded ruefully as he observed the varying fortunes of the players huddled around their card table. His Breegull partner was losing badly, Bottles the mole was about even, but it had been a good night for Mumbo Jumbo, who was shaking with excitement as he dealt the next hand.
"S-Stop rocking the t-table, you're s-spilling our d-drinks!" Kazooie squawked at the shaman.
"N-Not Mumbo, w-whole h-house s-shake," Mumbo replied unsteadily.
He was right. Banjo's house was shaking, but it quickly subsided as suddenly as it began.
"I wonder what that was? Perhaps someone should go and take a look," blinked a nervous Bottles.
The mole glanced around the table, hoping someone other than him would have to venture out into the cold, wet night and confront whatever might be out there. Things like this never happened when he was underground.
"Mumbo much brave, go look outside," declared the shaman confidently, striding towards the door and out into the howling storm.
"C'mon Banjo, gimme a hand," Kazooie cackled as she began helping herself to Mumbo's winnings.
The rain pattered on Mumbo's bony head as he trudged up the path that led away from Banjo's house. Everything looked normal, he thought, apart from those two figures hurrying towards the spot where Banjo's arch-enemy Gruntilda had fallen and been buried two years before.
"Witches!" Mumbo realised. "This not good, Mumbo go see what they do..."
By the time the shaman had dashed over and hidden behind a suitable rock, the witches were standing before the boulder that covered Grunty's grave. Both were mumbling in a strange language, while the taller of the two held open a huge book. Mumbo watched, enthralled, as the huge boulder rose into the air – and vanished! "Witch magic good," he murmured.
"Gone the rock has, so out you can come!" crowed the shorter fat witch.
All three stared at the open grave as the smoke cleared and a figure emerged. Standing there was Gruntilda the witch, but not the Grunty they all remembered. Two years under the ground had taken their toll on her warty body, reducing her to just a skeleton. Grunty looked down at herself in disgust.
"Nice Grunty looks, lost weight you have," the thin witch grinned.
"I hate bones, a body I need. Can you help me with this little deed?" Grunty glared at her sisters.
"Yes, plan Mingella and Blobbelda have, so off to our castle we must go," the fat Blobbelda wheezed.
Mumbo was horrified. Gruntilda restored to her former self? They couldn't let this happen. Banjo had to know immediately!
"Arrgghh! Seen us, bony man has!" Mingella screeched, pointing a long bony finger in the fleeing shaman's direction.
"Leave it to me, he's no hassle, I'll kick butt, then off to the castle!" cackled Grunty as she lumbered after him.
A frantic Mumbo crashed through Banjo's front door, not even noticing that Kazooie had taken his winnings.
"Grunty spell! Quick, all run!" he gasped breathlessly, pointing to the window as a strange bright light headed towards them.
"He's right!" Banjo yelped. "Everybody out!"
From her vantage point, Grunty watched as her spell slammed into the side of Banjo's house, reducing it to a pile of smoking rubble. Cackling maniacally, she hurried across to where her sisters waited inside the giant digging machine that they'd used to tunnel their way to Spiral Mountain.
They claimed to have perfected a device capable of sucking life force from the ground itself and any creatures that stood on it: once enough had been collected, it could be used to restore Grunty's bloated body. She couldn't wait to try it out on some poor unsuspecting critters!
Some time later, a very groggy Banjo sat up on the grass where he'd been thrown when the spell struck. Kazooie emerged from the safety of his backpack and watched in grim amusement as Mumbo rubbed his bruised skull.
"Ooooh, Mumbo head hurts," the shaman groaned.
"Never mind that, look at our house!" squawked the Breegull, as she surveyed the smouldering wreckage.
"Well, at least everyone got out safely..." sighed Banjo.
Kazooie wasn't so sure. Someone was missing. "Hang on, where's Goggle Boy?" she trilled.
Everyone turned to look at the house as a blackened shape stumbled out from what remained of the doorway. Bottles staggered towards his friends, but collapsed to the ground and lay still before he could reach them. Banjo and Mumbo rushed over to help the stricken mole.
"Uh-oh, mole look much unwell," Mumbo observed.
"It's worse than that... Grunty's killed poor Bottles!" the bear gasped.
"Grunty wreck house and kill mole, she pay! Bear and bird must get after witch!"
Kazooie screeched excitedly. It seemed such a long time since their last adventure. "C'mon Banjo, let's go!"
Banjo sighed as he started up the path away from the remains of his once-picturesque house. "I've a feeling it's not going to be so easy this time..."
The full list of Xbox 360 Achievements available in Banjo-Tooie XBLA.
Knocked Out Klungo (20G)
He's out for revenge; not once, not twice, but three times. You need to beat him once.
Treasure Hunt (20G)
You'll probably end up with many more, but to achieve this you need just one of each.
All Beaten Up (20G)
Kill any 20 bad guys with any of these attacks: Mumbo's wand, your Pants Attack or the Daddy T-Rex.
A Merry Old Soul (20G)
You'll find Old King Coal in Chuffy's boiler and he's a bit on the grubby side. Scrub him out!
Hatch the Future (20G)
Separate our heroes for the first time, or hatch a Banjo-Kazooie Stop 'N' Swop Egg with Heggy.
Calamari Bonanza (20G)
Don't be suckered! You'll have to freeze every single octopi.
It Lives! (15G)
Miracles do happen! Bring Sabreman back to life.
After The Storm (10G)
Ahhhh, a pretty rainbow. You did that, you old softy!
My Nemesis (10G)
Do it properly this time! Get rid of Grunty and save us from her rhymes. Off with her head!
Points Make Prizes (15G)
Balloons of any color will do, get 60 points worth or more and you're a winner... sort of.
They think it's all over... (15G)
Win a Colosseum Kickball final. The worst scorers rule at this game, so you should be good at it!
Shoot Em Up! (15G)
It's great fun exploding these little lovelies! Any 20 Ulcers, Clinkers or Mines will earn this.
"Classic platformer gaming that will have you reliving the glory days of the N64 console. Whether you're a fan or a newcomer, there's little reason why you shouldn't purchase the XBLA port of Banjo-Tooie." – PALGN
"A lot of the rough edges from the decade-old design are smoothed out by the fact that this is still more charming than a lot of modern 3D platformers which cost three times as much." – Eurogamer
"By playing Banjo-Tooie, you can get a sense of what platformers used to be like. Besides Nintendo with Mario, no one pulls them off better than Rare and this is no more evident than in this well-made remake of the classic Banjo-Tooie." – GamePro Arcade
"A slam dunk for those looking to relive some of gaming's past glory without having to pull out past consoles. While there are more feature-packed XBLA ports featuring old console ROMs, Banjo-Tooie is one of those games that's good enough to stand on its own." – TeamXbox
"Sure, Banjo may have lost the 'wow-factor' the games originally had, but if you are prepared to sit down and invest some time into the game, you will find plenty to keep you occupied. As an XBLA download, Tooie is fantastic value." – NZGamer
"If you played Banjo-Tooie back in the day it's worth a revisit to remind yourself how good this game was and earn a few achievements. And if you've never played Rare's masterpiece it's high time you found out why it is considered a high point for the genre." – IGN
"The team can knock enemies out with the more Banjo-like rolls and jumping smashes, while beak pecks and the ability to shoot eggs out of two... ahem, orifices are Kazooie's specialties." – TeamXbox