Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ghost's Kitchen: Italian Breaded Chicken

What's Cooking Today?
 Italian Breaded Chicken, Corn on the Cob and Garlic Bread
(Because apparently I had a thing for brown and yellow on that day)

Hello, and welcome to another segment of

My wife is not the biggest fan of red meat.  Actually I don't think I've ever witnessed her eating beef at all.  As such, I've had to become more accustomed to cooking with chicken, turkey and other meats.  This isn't really a problem because who doesn't love some good chicken?

If you are looking for a way to spruce up your dinnertime with a simple Italian chicken recipe then I've got the perfect thing for you!  I chose to pair my chicken with garlic bread and corn on the cob because I just felt like doing that this time. Feel free to substitute your own vegetables and sides as you see fit.

Gather your ingredients and tools
  • 1-2 Thawed Chicken Breasts (Boneless Skinless)
  • Italian Style Bread Crumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife or Paring Knife
  • Basting Brush
  • Small Cup for Oil
  • Standard Bowl
  • Baking Pan
  • Oven Mitt(s)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Cooking Spray


The Chicken

1. Clean Up Your Chicken Breasts
Many times chicken breasts will have a large bloody spot or a big chunk of fat on them somewhere.  While this stuff is ok to eat, it's not the most savory of things in the world.  Placing your chicken on the cutting board, turn them over and examine all sides to see if there are any blood spots or chunks of fat.  With your knife, cut out any of these things you wish so that your chicken looks nice and appetizing to you.

2. Prepare the Oil
In your small cup, our out a small amount of Olive Oil and place it near your chicken.  There's no exact amount but start off small and add extra if needed later because once it's in the bowl it's gone.


3. Brush the Oil on the Chicken
Simply dip your basting brush into the olive oil and cover every single inch of the chicken breasts.  The olive oil will not only keep the meat tender and not allow it to dry out, but it will also allow the breadcrumbs to stick.


4. Prepare the Bread Crumbs
Get out a standard bowl.  I am simply using a cereal bowl from the cabinet.  Pour a fair amount of Italian Style Bread Crumbs into the bowl.  I wouldn't put too much in there because once the bread crumbs touch the raw chicken it can't go back into the container.


5. Prepare Your Baking Pan and Preheat Oven.
Take a Baking Pan and cover it in aluminum foil.  Aluminum foil is cheap and if you use it on your baking pans then you don't need to wash them quite as often!  Spray a very light layer of cooking spray on the baking pan so that your chicken will not stick.   Again please spray a very light layer, I used too much in the picture above.  Go ahead and Preheat your oven to 350°F.


6. Apply the Bread Crumbs
Pick up one chicken breast at a time and place it into the bread crumb bowl.  Roll the chicken around and ensure that every bit of chicken is covered in bread crumbs.  No raw chicken should be visible.


7. Bake the Chicken for 25 Minutes
Place your chicken breasts on the baking pan and bake them for 25 minutes.



7.5 (Optional). Check that your Chicken has baked properly
If you have not baked chicken many times before you may want to take a brief moment to assure yourself that you are doing it right.  Once your 25 minutes are up you can remove the chicken and cut the thickest part with a knife parting the meat.  The insides should be a mostly white color in contrast to the deep pink it was before.  Your chicken should be white colored like the picture above.  If you are serving this to someone at home don't worry about cutting the meat because I'm sure your guests would rather have chicken that you KNOW is fully cooked than something that looks pretty.


8. Sprinkle with Shredded Mozzarella Cheese and Bake
Open a package of shredded Mozzarella and spread however much you wish to add on the top of each chicken breast.  Return the chicken to the oven and bake for 5 additional minutes.  Once this is done your chicken is ready to eat.



9. Choose and prepare your sides
This time I decided to go with some simple garlic Texas Toast and Sweet Corn on the Cob.  There are cooking directions on the bag/box just simply follow those and you should be doing good.  The hardest part is timing out everything especially if you plan on boiling the corn because quite often it can take longer than expected to get the water to a boiling point first.  I'd start boiling the water a good 12-14 minutes before the chicken is completely ready to make sure you have plenty of time for your corn.



10. Enjoy Your Meal (and maybe add something)
Serve and enjoy!  If you want to add something extra to the dish you can get a small jar of pizza/spaghetti sauce and warm it up.  Once it's warm you can make a thin bed of sauce on the plate for you to place your Italian chicken on.  You could even drizzle a small amount of that sauce on top of the chicken as well.   The dish doesn't need it but it would add some color and a different flavor.  

Hopefully this is something you and your family enjoy.  If you have any alterations you would make or have made to this recipe please let me know because I'm always trying to make my cooking better.

This is Ghost fading into the darkness. 
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If you want to see my other food topics and recipes then simply click here!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ghost in the Case: Digimon Adventure

"That's home, planet Earth...but I'm not sure that's where I am right now."

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 Long before I donned my first brown coat
Before I mastered the four elements
And before I traveled through time and space
I....was a Digi Destined!!


Hello, this is Ghost and I welcome you to another Ghost in the Case.

It's been since 2013 that I've done a TV or Movie review of any sort because my passion and interest come and go quite often.  There's no better way to get back into the swing of things than to talk about something I'll always be passionate about.  Silly as it may seem, one of those passions is the first season of Digimon a.k.a. Digimon Adventure.
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Digmon Adventure, or as it is known in America, Digmion: Digital Monsters Season 1 was created by Akiyoshi Hongo and produced by Toei Animation.  The English version was produced by Saban Entertainment, the same people who brought you the Power Rangers.  The most interesting thing about Digimon Adventure is that it was originally supposed to only be a short movie to tie in the sale of  tamogachi/giga pet style toys to children as a sort of marketing ploy to get them excited about the product.  
You know, these things!

They were given a paper thin budget since this was nothing more than gloried commercial.  However what they came up with surpassed everyone's wildest dream.  The creative team behind the movie project poured so much time, skill, and passion into this product that could have easily been a half-done throw away project that they were requested to make a fifty episode television series about these children and their digital monsters.  Again, with very little budget and a lot of creativity they invented one of the most popular and most interesting children's fantasy programs to date.  In fact, they are currently working on their seventh series of the show.

The Story
Digimon Adventure is broken into four different story arcs and I will cover each.  It's 50 episodes long so there's a fair amount to cover.

Story Arc 1 - File Island and Devimon
Seven children, Tai, Matt, Sora, Izzy, Mimi, Joe, and TK, were at summer camp when the world experienced freakish weather and weird technological bugs.   After a sudden snowstorm  lands on the group, small electronic devices called Digivices fall like meteors at their feet.  Before they can process these, a tidal wave appears out of nowhere and sucks them in to another world, the Digital World.  When the children wake up they find that these small talking creatures are now with them and claim that not only have they been waiting for their return but that each of them were designed specifically for that person.  These creatures are known as digimon.  The children travel around the island trying to make heads or tails of the place and learn that when they are in danger they can share their energy through the Digivice with their digimon to make them grow to the next stage of development; to "digivolve" as they call it (are you seeing a pattern yet?).   Digivolving makes them more powerful and able to defeat stronger enemies.  One by one each of the children's digimon gain the ability to grow to the next level except for the younget child, TK's digimon Patamon.  We'll get to him later.  Meanwhile the evil mastermind of File Island, Devimon has been producing black gears which control digimon and make them evil.  As the children defeat the black gears freeing more digimon, Devimon decides to split them apart and break up the island.  Each group of children find out how to work as a team and meet up back on the remaining section of the island, Infinity Mountain.  A Digimon named Leomon reveals to the children that they are the "Digi Destined" who were prophesied to save the Digital World from all evil.  The children all appear for the final fight with Devimon and right when it seems that he has won Patamon digivolves to Angemon, a powerful angel of light.  Using every bit of his power he defeats Devimon but dies in the process.  Some of Angemon's wings float down and create an egg for Patamon to eventually be reborn as Digimon do not actually die their data just gets restructured sometimes with their memory intact and sometimes not.  Suddenly a man named Gennai appears before them.

Story Arc 2 - The Crests and Etemon
Gennai informs the children that they are needed on the continent of Server to defeat their villains as well but in order to defeat them their digimon will need to digivolve one step further to ultimate level with the help of some tags and crests that are hidden across Server.  Thinking they will get to go home once their destiny is fulfilled the children travel to Server, picking up the tags along the way, and meet their next opponent, Etemon; an orange Elvis impersonating monkey who plays guitar and can suck the energy out of digimon.  He's evil for... umm...reasons I guess and slowly each of the children find their crests.  These crests represent the positive character trait that they most embody: Courage, Friendship, Love, Knowledge, Sincerity, Reliability, and Hope.  Along the way Tai, the leader attempts to force his partner digimon Agumon to digivolve to ultimate level but it backfires temporarily creating the purely evil beast SkullGreymon.  Izzy, the computer whiz also figures out that the world they are in is purely digital and hacks into the world causing warp points for them to get to Etemon faster.  Eventually Etemon is consumed by his dark network of cables and faces the digi destined for one last time.  Tai shows true courage once again and his crest glows allowing Agumon to digivolve into his ultimate form of Metal Greymon destroying the evil monkey.  Unfortunately this created a wormhole sucking Tai and his partner into it where they awaken on Earth.

Story Arc 3 - The Real World and Myotismon
Tai returns home with his partner when he realizes there's something funky with time. He arrived on Earth literally minutes after he left for the Digital World despite having spent months in there.  He finds his way back to the Digital World and begins to search for his friends who dispersed throughout Server to try to find Tai.  One by one each child is found and their crests begin to glow once they fully show the positive trait their crest is aligned with.  Many of these reaching ultimate level except for Mimi, Joe, and TK.  We'll get to them eventually.  Once they all join back up they gain the knowledge from Gennai that there was supposed to be an 8th digi destined who for one reason or another didn't make it to the Digital World.  The new villain, Myotismon knows this as well and plans to open a gate to the Real World in search of this child with the help of her tag and crest and destroy him.  Myotismon and his group make it to the real world and the digi destined follow.  As each group searches for the 8th child, Gatomon, one of Myotismon's group discovers that the 8th child is Tai's sister Kari, and that she is her digimon.  Gatomon and her friend Wizardmon attempt to steal  Kari's crest and tag but end up captured.  Tired of this charade, Myotismon covers Tokyo in fog (he is a vampire after all) and send out his legion to gather every child to be placed before him to see if they are the 8th child.  The digi destined and their parents/families begin a rebellion against Myotismon which resulted in Mimi and Joe finally getting their ultimate level digimon to show up.  All of this eventually resulted in a final showdown on the roof of a TV station.  Thanks to Wizardmon sacrificing his life (Digimon who die in the real world don't get reborn) Kari was able to get her crest and digivolve Gatomon to Angewomon who struck Myotismon down with her arrows.   However the fog never lifted.  The next day at the hour of the beast 6:06:06, Myotismon rose from the shadows as VenomMyotismon,a Mega Digimon which was one step beyond the others.  Once this happens, Gennai sends Izzy a prophecy that he uncovered in hopes that Izzy could translate it's meaning.  With a little thinking the prophecy was deciphered which resulted in both the angel digimon lending their power to Tai and Matt causing their digimon to digivolve to Mega level and destroy the vampire.  As the fog lifted, suddenly the sky began to rip apart as random pieces of the Digital World were showing through the sky(which we find out is a big deal for Season 2).  The Digidestined with Kari as their 8th member return to save the Digital World once more.

Story Arc 4 - The Dark Masters

Due to the time difference, several years had passed in the Digital World and during the children's absence, four mega digimon took over the world and reprocessed it's data into one giant Spiral Mountain.  These four digimon controlled different parts of the world; one controlled the seas, one controlled the forests, one controlled the cities, and the other controlled the rest and them all.  After defeating their first Dark Master the children realized that the Digital World was so messed up that digimon were not being reborn and couldn't till everything was fixed.  Due to this Mimi decides to leave the group because she doesn't want to see anymore fighting.  Joe decides to stay with her and keep her safe.  As the remaining children prepare to fight the second Dark Master, a devious tree digimon, Cherrymon, causes Matt to doubt his friend Tai resulting in the two battling each other.  Matt realizes that he might be better off on his own and leaves the group.  The remaining five take on the second Dark Master but when things got difficult, Matt appeared with his partner MetalGarurumon and defeated their enemy, running back into the woods afterwards.  Having defeated the third dark master the five children prepare to take on Piedmon, the leader of the Dark Masters but know they need everyone in order to defeat them.  Eventually they find Matt and Gabumon bringing them back for the fight.  At the same time, Mimi and Joe return with entourage of digimon they had helped in the past who were ready to fight for their world.  Unfortunately Piedmon was far more powerful than the rest and defeats everyone except for TK, Patamon, and Kari.  As it seems they are about to be finished as well, Patamon finally reaches his ultimate level, MagnaAngemon and with one move destroys the last Dark Master restoring the other heroes in the process.  Right when they think everything is over, it all turns black as the real Dark Master appears, Apocalymon.  Apocalymon was created from all the discarded data of digmon and reduces the children and their partners to the lowest basic code of 0's and 1's.  Through the power of hope they re-align their data and destroy Apocalymon saving the Digital World and the Real World in the process.  Having fulfilled their destiny the children return home hoping to see their digimon once again.

What's Good About It?
The imagination and creativity of this season of Digimon is astounding.  The different kinds of situations that are thrown at you and the character designs can be pretty spectacular.  This is fairly amazing simply because of the extremely limited budget these people had to work with.  If this was created today with the same amount of budget it would be something that would be forgotten or only half done and hated.  Instead these people poured so much passion and love into this project that it shines brightly among children's TV shows.
The children in the show are stereotypes of children.  I realize that some people would think this might be a negative point, but this show used this fact for a particular effect and made an excellent choice.  Well rounded characters who act like real children all the time can often come across as boring due to their realism, but if you have a sampling of characters with pre-defined roles it easily allows for children and adults to latch on to one character you like more than the others.  Tai is the courageous leader, Matt is the cool guy, Izzy is the tech guy, Joe is the mature one, Sora is the tomboy, Mimi is the girly girl, TK is the excited little kid and Kari is...well she's Kari.  Each character matures in one way or another within their role and are completely different people by the end of the series... mostly anyway.  We'll get to Kari in a few.

Sometimes this show can deal with some fairly rough topics and deals some pretty good lessons.  Obviously it's a kid's show so death is touched on but very lightly.  That being said the one time this show decided to go full guns blazing into permanent death territory with Wizardmon's death on the TV tower it hits home very hard prompting Wizardmon to be one of the more popular characters because of how they dealt with his death.  If you pay close attention to the series, it teaches things like standing up for your beliefs, always being yourself, not letting fear overcome you, choosing your own path, and understanding that parent's sometimes do things children don't understand out of love etc.    Speaking of parents...
The families in this show are absolutely awesome.  Most children's shows I know of either have the parents not in the picture at all or they are bumbling idiots that are too old and stupid for the children who are the stars of the show... or they go the Disney route and flat have them be deceased.  Digimon handles them completely differently and realistically.  When the children are in the real world their parents are involved.  Matt and TK's father becomes almost the 9th person of their group because he does so much with them.  The parents are supportive, involved, and doing everything they can to help their children succeed even with all this craziness going on around them and that's EXACTLY how parents should be.

Story Arc 3 is AMAZING!  It's widely considered the best part of the whole show and it so happens that the Myotismon arc is the portion of the show I was first able to watch.  Seeing how these children interact in the real world with their digimon and trying to save actual people instead of digital animals and weirdos made for a really dynamic set of wonderful episodes.  The action and suspense were high and it's so far the best series of episodes Ive seen out of the three seasons I've been able to watch.  Seriously, if you only watch one segment of this show make it the Myotismon Saga... sure you may not fully understand everything if you've bypassed Devimon and Etemon but these are some solid episodes.

What's Bad About It?
Well first off this IS a kid's show and the writing definitely suffers some because of it.  The Japanese is a little more "mature" sounding because the English dub took a fair amount of liberties and added painful puns and awful jokes abounding.  The actual voice actors do a wonderful job with the dub it's just some of the jokes the writers have given them to say even hurt me as a child.  Why exactly is the embodiment of pure evil and despair in the Digital World, Apocalymon, making pizza jokes?  Why is Joe not using a Buddhist chant anymore and is instead just repeating "Bakemon lose your power?"  If you can't handle cheesiness and bad jokes then this might be a hard time for you because the cheesiness and bad jokes are a digi-plague in this series.
As I previously said, the budget was incredibly tiny and they had to adjust the episodes to fit that budget.  Animations are used over and over, the backgrounds aren't anything to praise and are more often just sort of fuzzy nature looking scenes, and the music is used entirely too often.  This is understandable because why pay thousands of dollars to have brand new animations and songs for each episode when you can keep within your meager budget and re-use animations and songs while still keeping up the energy of the episode?   I never found this a real problem because I always was sucked into the action and loved seeing each digimon's digivolution scene while getting to hear that great song... that being said I can totally see how it can be annoying to hear and see the same thing over and over.  It's something you just have to live with.

Mimi and Kari may be difficult for some people to like.  Now I love all the characters in this show but I can certainly see the complaints.  Mimi's problem comes from the translation into English.  Yes she was a girly girl in the Japanese but she was a more rounded character.  In the Japanese she would complain a little bit but she was always someone who spoke her mind.  She had an opinion of how things should be done and how people should be treated and she wasn't afraid to let you know about it either.  She embodied being happy with who you are and wore the Crest of Sincerity well.   When the English translators got hold of her however, they added all these Valley Girl-isms to her and made her very whiny at times which was not the original intent whatsoever.  English Mimi should have been wearing the Crest of being a spoiled princess.  She's a fun character anyway but I wish they had kept her more like her Japanese counterpart.  Kari however is a little bit more of a problem... something that never really bothered me when I was younger till I re-watched it and sort of realized a big issue with her.  The problem with Kari is that we already had a very young energetic type with TK and here we get another.  In order to not make her a female clone of TK, what resulted was a character who went through no real character development whatsoever and just sort of always was the Digimon equivalent of Jesus. 
I'm not actually kidding here.  She glows white, she frees digimon from bondage, she's always nice, she thinks of others before herself in all situations.  There's a flash back to her as a four or five year old coming home from the hospital and apologizing to her brother for not playing soccer as well because she was sick.   In Season 2 her "greatest dream" is perfect peace in the world where everyone has a partner digimon and everyone gets along... but we'll probably get to Season 2 another time.  It's kind of hard to connect with her because the only "problem" she had to overcome was getting sick for one episode... nothing of character development was achieved through this it was all helping her brother Tai develop as a stronger leader.  I enjoyed her character anyway but I do see the issues .

Story Arc 2 is nonsensical and stupid.  Who thought an Elvis Impersonating monkey was a good villain?  There's no real reason for him to be evil other than the plot needed a villain.  He's always talking about going on tour and making music and that's all he should have been; a one episode quirky character they met along the way of fighting a REAL villain.  But instead we get stuck with this guy and a series of episodes where the kids just find their crests randomly in rocks and so on.  It's a set of rinse and repeat but in the dullest fashion possible.  There is absolutely nothing spectacular out of this entire set of episodes other than the accident that was SkullGreymon.  It's almost bad enough for me to tell you to skip this entire segment but there are some secondary characters that add a little bit of fun to what's going on so it's still got some value...but not much.

Conclusion
I won't lie that a large portion of my enjoyment for this series came as a direct result of good old fashioned nostalgia.  I happened to be watching this as a 13 year old where I was the target demographic.  I also joined during the greatest segment of Digimon that I've yet to see, the Myotismon Saga.  It's impossible to separate myself from watching this show with the same smile and joy I had as a child, but does it still hold up now?

I'd say yes it does.  I've tried to watch this as an objective adult.  Yes the animations are repetitive but that was a necessary evil.  Yes I heard the theme song and the other two to three songs so many times they get old.  Yes  the cheese level and bad jokes can be irksome, but it still connects with me on an emotional level.  I know what's going to happen but I'm still invested in what's going on with these wonderful characters.  So if you can handle watching something that's supposed to be a kid's show and not feel dumb then give this one a shot.  It may not be one of the greatest animated experience of your life but it's definitely going to be a memorable one.

This is one show that I'm sure I'll still pick back up when I'm in my 60's and binge watch till I fall asleep and am currently eagerly awaiting the 3rd installment of these eight character's adventures in the Digital World, with Digimon Tri coming out soon!

Digimon Season 1 is currently available on DVD and is (as of the writing of this entry) available on Netflix.

This is Ghost fading into the darkness.
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If you want to see my other Movie and Television reviews/recommendations then simply click here!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ghost's Angry Reviews: Banjo-Kazooie (with KoD)

 Well THERE'S something you don't see every day.
 
This is your standard spoiler warning.  If you don't want a game spoiled then keep moving!  Just going to go ahead and slap a length warning on here as well.  Any time I team up with KoD it's gonna be long cause we talk a lot about games so if you want a condensed version, scroll to the conclusion.

Ghost here, glad you could drop by!

What makes a game last?  What gives a game this feeling of "the best thing ever?"  You hear people talk about how projects are doomed to failure before they even get their hands on a copy yet praise others at the same time under these same conditions.  Is there a common denominator to making a game that people love and are still playing years after its release?
Today I'll be examining Skyrim and taking a look at what has made people keep playing this game 3 years later.

What?  That's bull!  Last week you talked about Yooka-Laylee and now you're going to piggy back off that and talk about something way out in left field?  If you want to talk about a great game that people are still playing years later then you should follow up your Yooka-Laylee discussion with Banjo-Kazooie... not trying to tell you how to run your blog or anything but it just makes sense.

Why?  Skyrim is a more recent game that I still see actively talking about especially with the Steam debacle having recently gone down.  I watch a Youtube series that weekly looks at new mods and with tons of people still modding this game...

I'll get you that Lucina amiibo you were wanting

Today we'll be talking about Banjo Kazooie


After last week's ending that was kind of anti-climatic...

Yeah, I can't believe you talked me into this so easily.  I just really want that Lucina amiibo.  To begin with, I think we need to give some context here as to our experiences and history with this game because I feel we come from VERY different viewpoints and skill levels here.

Banjo-Kazooie has always been a game that is very special to me; a game from my childhood that I can always go back to and enjoy playing from start to finish.  There's so much appeal to this game from the quirky dialog to the unforgettable cast of characters to even the challenge of doing a 100% complete of the game.  It all has resonated with me well.  It's a game that even years after I have finished a play through, every now and then, I feel the urge to go back and put myself to the test with brand new challenged i place on myself while playing such as doing a 100% Complete No Death run of the game. or trying to beat my fastest time.  It's a fun yet challenging game that even now I can find something new in.  If you want a game that won't lose its charm years later, then you should get on the nostalgia train and pick up Banjo-Kazooie!

I on the other hand didn't really grow up with the game.  I spent most of my childhood playing RPGs, racers, or fighting games; games such as Pokemon, Star Wars Episode 1 Racer, and Super Smash Bros.  Platformers are not my thing...at all.  They never have been my forte and they never will be.  It doesn't matter if they are 2D or 3D, they just rarely appeal to me because I find them excruciatingly difficult based on the level of perfection you are expected to perform while playing.  This is why you'll almost never see me talk about any of these types of games.  Since Banjo-Kazooie is a 3D platformer and an early example of a 3D platformer at that, the appeal for me is significantly less.  I had never played it to completion till about a month before the writing of this review.  I'm so terrible at platformers that, though I own the game and a function N64 console, I chose to play this game on my computer with a keyboard just so I could utilize cheat codes and see the game to completion.

WAIT... you used a keyboard??!!!

Hey, when you're being asked to play a game that you're terrible at, you resort to desperate measures in order to accommodate such request... but enough about this, let's dig straight into the review.

STORY
Back in the days of the Nintendo 64, we didn't have games that had complex stories or anything too "out there."  The story for Banjo-Kazoiie is no exception as it's VERY straightforward.  The whole plot is that this ugly witch, Gruntilda is jealous of how beautiful Tooty, Banjo's younger sister, is and wants to be the most beautiful in the land.  So, the evil witch bearnaps the cute little Tooty and takes the bear back to her lair with the intentions of using a machine to suck the beauty out of Tooty.  By doing this it will make Gruntilda beautiful and Tooty ugly.  It's up to our heroes, Banjo the bear and Kazooie the bird, to travel to Gruntilda's mountain lair to rescue Tooty.  Along the way they learn new moves from Bottles the mole as they go through nine worlds of tricks and traps all while collecting notes and jigsaw puzzles to help them progress forward.  This, of course, all leads to the climatic final battle with Grunty at the top of her mountain lair to save Tooty!

That's... it?  You mean to sit here and tell me that this game that so many fanboys gush over and praise nonstop is about three minutes worth of plot and several hours worth of faffing about collecting random objects in order to open a few doors to save your sister from turning ugly in a Snow White knock-off?

YEP, that's it!  Y ou know honestly, the lack of a lengthy story can be quite a good thing.  To go back and play something with such a simple plot is actually a refreshing change of pace from the games being created today that have too many storylines going on like the Skyrim that you were going to review.  This isn't something like Call of Duty where they hold your hand through the story either.  They give you the basics and expect you to adapt your own thoughts and details into the game meaning the only limitation is your imagination about the scenarios you find yourself in.  it's very similar to Super Mario 64; something that has a simple plot of collecting stars to save Peach who's trapped in the walls of her own castle.  See?  There's a simple plot, nothing too complicated, and people love it to no end calling it one of the best games ever released.  We don't need some massive story that will consume hundreds of hours of our life.  Sometimes a nice short game that will only take ten to twenty hours is the perfect thing that we need.

OH... well isn't that fantastic.  So you're saying Banjo-Kazooie is a lot like Super Mario 64?  There are literally only a very few things you could say that would turn me away faster than that.  Mario 64 was clunky, had an abominable camera, Mario's movements were sometimes difficult to control, the whole thing seemed very arbitrary in how you moved around the world or discovered things, and it just wasn't astounding in my non-platformer opinion.  People only like Super Mario 64 because it was a change from how video games of the past were being done.  If you're trying to make Banjo-Kazooie sound better by comparing it to Super Mario 64 then this is going to be a rough review because I very much dislike Mario 64.

You... Don't like Mario 64??!!
I'm going to ignore your blatant disregard for good gaming and humor you then.  Despite the fact that you played the game with a keyboard and didn't exactly get the full experience, I WILL show you what a good game this milestone is!

CONTROLS

Woah woah woah, KoD... I'm going to stop you right there.  You're going to convince me of the merits of this game and the first thing out of the gate are the controls?  PLEASE! There's no way you are going to convince me that this is a good game based on the controls.  The camera and controls of this game are some of the worst I've come across in awhile.

...says the person who played the entirety of this game WITH A KEYBOARD BY CHOICE.  I know I keep bringing it up, but holy crap!  No wonder you struggled through this game or why you say that the camera controls are horrible.  To play on a keyboard even with cheats on is no easy feat.  I feel as though because you played on a keyboard you simply couldn't get a feel for how well crafted the camera controls actually are for this revolutionary step into 3D gaming.

Yeah, yeah, I realize that complaining about the difficulty of controls when I chose to play with a keyboard is as ridiculous as complaining about the difficulty of eating if I chose to place the food in my armpit.  I knew this going in which is why I took the liberty of testing out the controls on the actual N64 and playing through the first world just to see if they were as clunky as they were using the keyboard.  Turns out... they were!  The only thing that was made better by using the actual N64 controller was performing a walking and aiming in a diagonal line.  Everything else was pretty much as bad as it was on the keyboard.

To start off with I feel as though the comparison to Super Mario 64 is definitely a good one when it comes to camera control because I'm fairly convinced that they just hired the same Latiku from Mario 64 to come and shoot this game and once again he brought his booze and love of staring at random objects while in his intoxicated state instead of focusing on the action that needs attention.
"I...I can.. I can do*hic* DO THE DO MAN!!! Oh maaaaan, look at this grass!"

Seriously, the camera just doesn't follow you the way that a camera should.  It jerks around harshly when you attempt to adjust it and often times is in a terrible angle to where you're just jumping blindly and hoping to land on something.  For a game that involves a LOT of platforming you need to be able to see where you're going and where you're about to land rather than shouting "Jesus take the wheel" and then plummet to your death.  It (and Mario 64) is one of the worst cameras I've seen because it flat doesn't work the way it should.  Don't even get me started on the swimming controls in this game.  Imagine placing a hippo the the unfortunate ability to NOT hold it's breath in deep water with a malfunctioning jet pack... that's how swimming in this game feels.  It's so clunky I'd rather navigate a tour bus through a drain pipe.

If I could intervene... I never really had a problem with swimming.  I found the controls to be really smooth and cooperative.  You press B to swim fast and A to slowly wade around the water.  Let's not forget that you can hold R to make sharp turns.  The camera is usually good about staying behind your character in the water, but I will admit you CAN swim right past your target if you aren't fully used to the controls.

Now, I will admit that the camera controls weren't the greatest in this game but for the day and age this game came out, I believe the camera controls are still pretty impressive especially for a system that didn't have a second analog stick yet.  At the time of the Playstation and Nintendo 64 launch there was no such thing as a second analog stick that we have taken for granted with our modern games.  A second analog stick would have greatly increased the power of the camera but it just simply didn't exist back then.  You've also got to remember that back in the day when the N64 was the new system, video games were still experimenting with ways to bring the old 2D SNES style into the new 3D style.  Everything at the time Banjo-Kazooie was being developed and released was still fairly experimental.  For what they were able to do at the time, I believe they nailed what it's like to capture the feeling of being able to run around with no restrictions in the world... but i digress.  Going back to the controls in Banjo-Kazooie, again I simply must bring up the fact that because you used a keyboard you couldn't really experience how fluently the controls functions.  While  yes, you may have played the first level on the actual N64, by calling it quits on using the controls after the first level you weren't allowing yourself the opportunity to play with the controls Nintendo intended you to play with in the later levels.  You weren't allowing yourself the chance to adapt to the controls, because when you get the hang of how they work, I believe you'll agree they work well for what's needed; it may not do everything you want but it does everything you need.  That said, I will still admit the controls on the camera are far from perfect.

Well... guess I can't really fault a game too much because the technology wasn't invented yet for the company it was with.  I still stand by the fact that the controls aren't that good because in my opinion they aren't; however I suppose they might be acceptable based on what they have to work with at the time and how experimental the game was.  I only ran across a couple of times where the controls were actively working against me playing the game, namely the final battle. 

MOVES/MECHANICS

Let's stop for a second to talk about the moves in this game shall we?  I feel that Banjo and Kazooie get a LOT of awesome moves... well to be more specific I should say that KAZOOIE gets a lot of awesome moves while Banjo hardly does anything at all.  For the most part, Kazooie does pretty much everything and is the true star of the game.  Let's take a look at some of "their" moves.

For the sake of length I will mostly be covering the special moves that Bottles teaches you after the basics.  When you hop on a Spring Jump Pad, Kazooie stretches out her long legs and jumps super high into the air like a spring.  However, this move can only be performed when standing on one of the pads and nowhere else.  When crouching with the Z button, Kazooie can do a wide variety of moves.  By pressing C-Up when crouching she can fire an egg out of her mouth; alternatively by pressing C-Down she shoots one out of her butt.  When crouching and pressing C-Right, Kazooie shields Banjo with her wings and makes them invincible for as long as they have golden feathers to power the move.  By pressing C-Left while crouching, Kazooie will carry Banjo in her Talon Trot mode where she can move quickly and walk up steep slopes.  Throughout the worlds you can also get temporary power ups like the Wading Boots which let you walk through dangerous water, and the Running Shoes that allow you to run super fast!  There are two more abilities that the par get that are, in my opinion, the best in the game!  When you stand on Flying Pads, the duo take to the sky and fly around consuming red feathers.  While in flight mode they can perform a Beak Bomb attack shooting at enemies like a missile.

Banjo gets no special moves of his own... nor does he really do anything other than three slaps and walking around when not in Talon Trot mode.  Kazooie does basically everything.
[Insert choking chicken joke here]

Yeah, Kazooie is the real MVP in this game to be perfectly honest.  Even though she does most of the work, does she have to make so much noise while she's doing it?  HOLY CRAP!  Seriously, every single thing that Kazooie does involves a comedic and annoying noise.  Egg Laying?  Let's make a farting noise!  Egg Shooting?  Let's make it sound like she's throwing up!  Beak Buster?  Let's make a sound like a broken telephone!  Talon Trot?  Let's make the sound Pacman would make if he was a pigeon.

It NEVER stops.  In some worlds there are whole sections where you need to use the Talon Trot because of the speed or grip needed to get around.  You then are subject to a non-stop few minutes of "bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka-bawka."  It drives you insane all the noise noise noise noise noise!

One last thing that kills me is the fact that you can't grab ledges in this game.  Miss your landing spot by half an inch?  Well TOO BAD!  You can't grab on to anything and pull yourself up.  It's either absolute perfection or going back and trying again till you get perfection.  This is such an elementary thing to add that it blows my mind why they didn't do something so simple.

Actually they fixed that in Banjo-Tooie

Those ri... wait what?

Yeah, Banjo-Kazooie was created so early in the 3D platforming genre's life-cycle that it may not have been known that ledge grabbing would be so essential at the time since most if not all 2D platformers didn't utilize ledge grabbing.  The developers realized this was a problem and included it in the sequel since it was an aid to gameplay.

Oh... well umm... OK fine, I can't fault the game for that too much either then since it was early in the creation of 3D platformers as a genre.  I guess all of my complaints, while I still feel are valid, are severely lessened by the fact that the technology and ideas just weren't there yet when this came out.  Probably at the time, people wouldn't have complained and would have thought all of this was breathtaking and fluid, but since I didn't play this game until much later in life I'm so used to games which built upon the failures and successes of games like this that I found a reason to complain.  Being too hard on this game for being a pioneer rather than a polished product of time is a bit too douchy even for me so... yeah.


One thing I'm surprised you didn't bring up is how in a few of the worlds you have the ability to transform into other things.  Now, whether that something is an animal or some form of sentient object completely depends on the world you are in.  Basically there's a character named Mumbo Jumbo that will transform you into other things in exchange for Mumbo Tokens.  He can transform you into a termite, a crocodile, a walrus, a pumpkin, and even a bee.  Each of the transformations has special abilities that Banjo and Kazooie can't do on their own normally.  The termite has the ability to walk up REALLY steep slopes without slipping off.  The crocodile can walk through swamp water without being hurt.  The walrus can walk through the freezing cold water without taking any damage.  The pumpkin... well it doesn't really have a power per-say, but it can fit into small places like drain pipes and toilets so there's that.  Finally the bee has the power to fly indefinitely without the use of red feathers.  I should also mention that at a complete random interval Mumbo could end up turning you into a washing machine... yes a washing machine... for no real reason whatsoever.

I...have to say that this was a really awesome part of the game.  Granted, Majora's Mask did the whole transformation thing slightly better with the transformations being the souls of other people helping you save the world, but this game did come before that so... You've won this round, game!

Characters

Ghost, I know something you can't argue against and that's the quality of the characters.  There are some truly wonderful characters in this game.

It's too bad that only two of them have any actual... you know... character to them in all reality.  Don't ever underestimate my ability to nitpick, good sir.

Banjo
Banjo the Honey Bear is one of the main protagonists of the game alongside Kazooie... hence the name of the game.  He's usually really well mannered and easy going.  This bear usually refers to people a lot of the time as Mr. or Mrs.  He generally likes to help people out despite the fact that Kazooie does most of the manual labor.  Other than there there really isn't too much else noteworthy about Banjo in this game.  In Banjo-Tooie however that's a whole other story... but that's for another time.





Tooty
When it comes to characters in this game there really isn't that much to say about most of them character-wise anyway.  Tooty is one of these examples.  She's the younger sister of Banjo who seems very outgoing and loves to go adventuring, however she's not that brave and ummmm.....that's it.  What?  You expected me to say more about Tooty, a character that gets maybe 4 minutes of screen time total?  Sorry that's all I've got.  MOVING ON!




Mumbo Jumbo
There's also not a heck of a lot to say about Mumbo Jumbo. You find him multiple times sitting in his little skull shaped hut (or one time in a graveyard) and he transforms you into the random things mentioned earlier.  Though these random things DO have their uses in the world, if you really think about it, Mumbo is a bit rubbish at his job.  A full imagination of awesome things that he COULD transform you into so that you could defeat everything in your path including Gruntilda and he chooses things like a pumpkin.  Really?  There is some personality to him as he sometimes pokes fun of your transformation or comments on the heat of the summer but nothing else really stands out about him.

Bottles
Bottles is one of the more interesting characters in the game.  No, it's not because he's actually an interesting character, but rather he's just an odd inclusion when you really pay attention to him.  He's just your standard nerd with a fair amount of knowledge who teaches Kazooie how to perform her special moves but... he's a mole.  Why would he have the knowledge on how a bird should lay an egg as an attack?  Why would he know how to teach her to fly?

The more creepy part is that if you look at his portrait in Banjo's room, he starts talking to you about playing a puzzle mini game.  It just sort of happens out of nowhere.  Does this mole have some sort of secret video surveillance of Banjo's house?  Are he and Mr. Resetti from Animal Crossing starting a Nintendo branch of the NSA?  And then there's this...
 
What is it with the games I review and freaking Nazism?  

Well now that we've gotten Goofy's useless bear cousin, Snow White Bear, the potentially racist shaman, and the internet creeper out of the way let's get to the two with real character.

Kazooie
Kazooie is honestly a special character for many reasons.  Yes she won't stop making noises but she does 99% of the work here and she has actual character to her.  She's got quite a bit of that good old fashioned 90's attitude.  She's constantly tossing out one-liners at everything that comes her way making fun of everyone and everything in the process.  There's rarely a bit of dialog in this game that she doesn't utilize the opportunity to run her beak.  She knows her importance to the game as well and isn't afraid to voice that knowledge when they discuss producing a sequel during the ending scene of the game.  Mumbo reveals that the game would be called Banjo-Tooie... to which she responds that it better be called Banjo-Kazooie-Tooie!


Technically she asks why it isn't called Banjo-Kazooie-Tooie to which she follows up saying "I better be in the game too"

I see my nitpicking has rubbed off on someone eh?  Kazooie is also a rather impatient bird as she pecks Banjo on the head if he stands still for longer than a few seconds.  Yes, a lot of characters from the 90's were just generalized attitude and can be easily forgotten but Kazooie just isn't a generic one of a group.  It's the tiny little things that make her a memorable character.  She's like Sonic the Hedgehog, Raphael from TMNT, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer all rolled into one legitimately awesome bird!

Gruntilda
It's kind of odd to say this but the stereotypical evil witch character you can see all over the place in gaming and stories is one of the only ones with actual character to her.  That witch is, of course, Gruntilda Winkybunion!  It's quite notable that everything she says in this game is done in rhyme... and I mean EVERYTHING.  As mentioned in the story portion, Gruntilda thinks very highly of herself but when her cauldron Dingpot says that Tooty is the most beautiful in all the land, Grunty gets jealous.  She kidnaps Tooty and attempts to steal Tooty's beauty and make herself beautiful.  She resides in her Mountain Lair which is pretty much the hub world of the entire game wherein holds all sorts of tricks, traps, and lands.  Everything she says just seems to add more character to her in general.  She's not exactly the most evil of villains in any sort of malicious way like most evil villains.  She just has a severe focus on becoming beautiful by any means necessary.

To add character to her, Gruntilda's sister Brentilda appears throughout her sister's lair and will tell Banjo and Kazooie three facts about Grunty each time you meet her.  These facts are completely randomized for each save file of the game... yet SOMEHOW both Ghost and I were exposed heavily to her little underwear fetish.  I'm not even joking here.  We got to hear things like "Grunty wears massive bloomers under that repulsive dress of hers, " "The only thing she's ever won was the dirtiest undies competition at school," and "Revolting Gruntilda's beadroom has dirty undies hanging from the ceiling."  When you see some of the things that these facts include about Gruntilda, such as doing a strip tease, it will pretty much spell out that this is one DIRTY NASTY old witch.

Also it's worth mentioning that as a little secret, if you try to cheat and put in too many cheat codes that open note doors etc, GRUNTILDA WILL ERASE YOUR SAVE FILE.  I'm not even joke here.  She warns you once and if you keep going about with cheat codes then POOF it's gone.  Maybe she's more evil than I originally thought....

Now for a few laughs, let's briefly talk about a few of the secondary character and enemies.




Conga - This is called "We wanted to get in some practice for Donkey Kong 64."  WAIT... is this male gorilla wearing a bra and boots with nothing else??  I... I have no words for this.
I never noticed this before... maybe it's a tank top??

Big Clucker - MORE LIKE BIG F***ER!  Seriously these guys appear in some of the worst places possible to mess you up in Click Clock Woods.  They also do two honeycombs of damage instead of the usual one honeycomb that everything else does which is really bizarre.  I swear they took off only one honeycomb when they hit me this one time but took away two honeycombs another time.  It's even weirder because not even Gruntilda hits you for two units of health ever and she's the FINAL BOSS.





Black Gruntling - I'll be perfectly honest, it took me seeing this guy several times before I realized he wasn't just some ugly gorilla they added in the late game despite the fact that there are other gruntlings with different colored robes walking around everywhere. 




 


Nabnut- Or as I like to call him Numbnuts (I perfer Deeznuts, myself) You see Numbnuts in Click Clock Woods gorging himself on nuts and eating so much that he blows up like a balloon and starts farting on you.  Once fall hits the woods, he's panicked that he doesn't have enough nuts for winter and asks you to find them.  One of them is IN HIS LIVING ROOM... idiot!









Yum-Yum - A clam named Yum-Yum?  All aboard the innuendo train!







 
Flower Urn - At first glance there's nothing really wrong with these guys.  They're just simple flower pots with eyes right?  Well it's not what they appear like that's the problem, it's what they say.  In Mad Monster Mansion you have to get these pots to bloom by dropping an egg inside them.  When you do this they are supposed to thank you for being so helpful but... that doesn't exactly sound like "Thank You" now does it?  (Please Note: Make sure your volume is turned up)





So, what do you think about the game now?  Sure you may have some gripes about the controls but these characters are pretty amazing.  Not to mention that it's incredibly uncommon in the video game industry (especially at the time this was created) that the two characters with the most thought put in to them were both female.

I have to agree once again, man.  These are some pretty great characters especially Kazooie and Gruntilda.  I do have to say that even though there is very little to say about most of our other main cast, they were still memorable.  I didn't have to look up on a wiki who all was in the main cast for us to write out comments about them because I remembered every single one of them.  I'm holding off my final judgment till the end obviously, but these characters gave it several brownie points in my book.

LOCATIONS

If a storyline that's open to interpretation, great characters and some (in my opinion) decent controls for the time aren't enough of a reason for you to love the game.  Let's talk about these great locations shall we?

You start at Banjo's Home in Spiral Mountain where you have to learn the basic moves from Bottles before you can enter Gruntilda's Lair.  It's as basic as basic can be.  Gruntilda's Lair on the other hand acts as a hub world full of hidden surprised and strange pathways to get through every world in the game.  You'll be spending 95% of your game in Grunty's Lair or one of the worlds hidden within.  Let's hit each of these worlds.

Mumbo's Mountain
Mumbo's Mountain is a good entry level stage without a whole lot of weirdness to it (besides the gorilla in the bra.)  There are some Stonehenge-looking ruins, a small village for Mumbo to live in, some palm trees for the monkeys, a gigantic termite mound, and a large bull.  Past that there's not really much to say here.  It's a good level to get your feet wet in.





 
Treasure Trove Cove
Treasure Trove Cove is your standard pirate adventure world complete with an actual pirate who's voice is an incredibly annoying constant belching.  You also have a pirate ship and a search for golden treasure.  It's truly a tropical island with a shark that won't stop following you, a lighthouse, crabs, a sandcastle and many other things.  There is a fair amount of swimming in this world which should be blatantly obvious for an island world.  Probably the most interesting parts are the giant hermit crab and the treasure hunt where you find various places around the island with a red X.

If I could stop this right here for a moment.  It IS worth mentioning that the sand castle in this worlse is where you are going to keep going back to in order to input any and all in-game cheat codes that you might find.  So that right there makes this world pretty special. 

Clanker's Cavern
This world is what made me REALLY hate swimming in this game because there's a metric ton of it.  It's basically a set of metal rooms filled with water that a large metal shark named Clanker lives in.  You have to release Clanker from his underwater chains, climb around random pipes and grates, and even go inside Clanker himself.  What is it with video games and going inside of aquatic creatures for one portion of the game??





Bubblegloop Swamp
What's a platforming game without a unique level that you don't see too very often in video games?  This is that one more unique level. When you enter Bubblegloop Swamp, you find yourself in an area with all sorts of critters lurking about as well as the water being completely piranha infested.  There's swamp water to get across, eating games to be played against an insanely difficult red crocodile named Mr. Vile (seriously screw this guy.. I wanted to punch my computer screen because of his shenanigans), memory games with singing turtles, time challenges, as well as feeding golden crocodiles.  It's not exactly my favorite level in the game but it's pretty interesting all the same.

Freezeezy Peak
Who out there doesn't love a good snowy area in their game; especially one themed around Christmas?  The peak awaits you with all sorts of run things to do such as giving CPR to a polar bear named Boggy by body slamming him, racing Boggy twice, lighting up a Christmas tree, flying and beak bombing snowmen that keep tossing snowballs at you, and so much more.  Just stay out of the freezing cold water and you'll be good.  I do find it funny though that during the events of this world you give Boggy's children the Christmas Presents that Boggy was supposed to find.  Only after you give him sudden CPR and race him twice does he even mention going to find those presents for his children.

Gobi's Valley
If you have a game with multiple worlds or areas it's pretty much a law that you must do a sand-based level and here it is!  For such a small world there's a LOT packed in there.  I got lost in this world more often than not because all of the sand hills made everything look the same.  There's a large dog-like sphinx, a pyramid maze that kills you instantly if you don't get out in time, a flying carpet,  mummy hands that rise from the sane, and of course the camel Gobi himself who you constantly have to beat up to make him spit out water.  It's a fun world despite the confusing nature.

Mad Monster Mansion
Now this is MY kind of world!  I am Ghost after all.  Mad Monster Mansion is, of course, a haunted mansion but there's a little more to it than that.  There's a shed with a Ouija board, a rose hedge maze, a graveyard, and a creepy church haunted by Master Hand from Smash Bros' musical brother apparently.  The Gothic yet lighthearted nature of this world made me want to spend as much time here as humanly possibly.  Where else can you transform into a pumpkin and get flushed down a semi-clogged toilet and witness first-hand what was probably the inspiration for the Great Mighty Poo in Conker's Bad Fur Day.

Rusty Bucket Bay
You want a challenging world that will put your gaming skill to the test?  Then set foot onto the Rusty Bucket!  The ship, as well as the surrounding area, has so many things in it to keep you busy for quite a while.  You can pay egg tolls to get around the water, you can jump from barrel to barrel in acid water, you can destroy a sentient box, you can blow the ship's whistles, you can rad the ships rooms, you can kill..er.. i mean SAVE yes SAVE a dolphin trapped under the anchor (seriously, the anchor goes straight through his torso as it's rising up... there's NO way he would have survived that)... it's fun times all around!  Just stay out of the oily water as much as possible because it removes air twice as quickly even if you are floating on the top of the water and not even submerged.  As anyone who plays this game with know, the engine room on board the ship is an absolute nightmare filled with spinning blades and a bottomless pit of death below.  WAIT... if this is a ship then how is there a bottomless abyss?  Well there's actually a funny explanation about that and... OOPS ran out of time for this section sorry!

Click Clock Woods
This is by far the longest level in the entire game but it's almost the most fun to play.  Click Clock Woods is divided into 4 seasons similar to the four seasons that we experience in the real world.  Basically you start in spring, do everything you can in spring, find the switch to open up Summer, and head there, rinse and repeat for Summer, Fall, and Winter.  In this gorgeous world you will be doing many tasks such as helping a beaver get into his home, raising a giant bird, helping a squirrel prepare for winter, growing a large flower, climbing a tree more times than you can count, fighting bees etc etc.  I could go on and on about this level!  Your greatest enemy here is gravity as this is a mostly vertical world.

Furnace Fun
So you've made it through all nine worlds and got to that last door huh?  You think the game is almost over and all that's left is maybe a final boss?  Think again.  You've just stepped foot in Gruntilda's Game Show "Furnace Fun" where the only thing standing between you and saving Tooty is a bunch of squares over a pool of lava.  In this quiz show you will be tested on how observant you were during the game.  I'm not joking here that you REALLY need to have been observant to answer some of these questions.  Questions range from facts about the game, which character has which voice, which song is played where, facts about Gruntilda, timed challenges, closeup pictures of where you have been, squares where if you get the question wrong you die instantly, and jokers which are random questions.  If you know your game well enough and make your way across the game-board, Tooty will be all yours.  You'll still have to fight Gruntilda later after a hilarious cutscene where our heroes completely forget that Grunty was getting away and have to run back to defeat her.

Well... what's your opinion now?

These worlds are pretty great.  Many many video games have been released since this one with these similar types of worlds, but I don't feel like these worlds are "old hat" in any way.  I feel like these are still fresh and exciting worlds even though these are a couple decades old.  It really speaks to the passion and time poured into this game.

Lasting Appeal

I guess one last thing that we really need to touch on was the whole reason I chose Skyrim in the first place for this review.  What is the lasting appeal?  Skyrim has over one hundred hours of gameplay in the vanilla game alone not even including the downloadable content or any mods.  There are things that people who have been playing it for these last three years are only now finding for themselves.  With the avid modding community going strong and creating content weekly for the game I can fully see why Skyrim is still being played today and has reached so many people.
Seriously, how could you not love this?

So, why has this game done the same?  The gameplay is outdated not only by the technology constraints but by the very next game in the series.  There's no modding communities adding new content to this game it's just the same exact thing over and over.  Why is this game considered one of the best and why would people still be playing it to day with so many other options to choose from?

To answer that fairly simply, this game is incredibly nostalgic for we 90's kids who were lucky enough to have a Nintendo 64.  People love this game so much because a lot of us grew up with this game.  For us the pure nostalgia alone has made this stand the test of time, but that's not all.  It's far more than just nostalgia driving this game's lasting power.  You don't need DLC, modding, massive open worlds, or 200+ hours of gameplay to have a wonderful gaming experience that people want to play and re-visit.  Sometimes the simplest games with only a limited amount of content can turn out to be a game with the highest of replay value due to the effort and love poured into it.  It's not a perfect game, in fact because it WASN'T a perfect game they announced a sequel to the game before Banjo-Kazooie was even released to fix they problems they had uncovered.

Not only does this game have high nostalgic factor and passion, but it's actually quite a challenging game for a 90's game.  Those of us who played it back then worked so hard that first playthrough to figure out what to do and where to go.  We worked so hard to try to 100% all the levels getting all 10 jiggies and all 100 notes of each of the 9 worlds.  It wasn't easy because even knowing where everything is getting 100% completion of this game is fairly difficult.  We obviously didn't have sites such as IGN or Youtube to spell everything out for us of how we could beat the game.  It was all up to us to figure out how to progress forward.  That experience of having to figure out the game all on our own adds to the memory of why Banjo-Kazooie is such an amazing game for us all.  If you choose to do this game purely by your own skill and don't consult a guide then you can have that great experience too.

Despite the fact that Banjo-Kazooie is outdated technology by three consoles now, and has shown to be inferior to other games that have learned from their mistakes ten times over, Banjo-Kazooie is still a game that I personally could always go back to and frequently do.  It may not be the one that brought most people to the 3D platforming party (Mario 64) and it may not have all of the features that it's sequel has, but it's the one that made us all stick around.  It had me wanting to play it from start to finish without stopping even now 17 years later.  The clear eccentric vision and passion put into this game keeps me begging for more and more of this wonderful game.  How many other games can you honestly say that about?  I'm not only talking current games, but games even from back then.  Many many people keep coming back to this game with its certain something that stands among the ranks of other amazing games of the time like Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64.

To sum up my thoughts there is a massive following of fans who love the Banjo-Kazooie series to this day.  There is such a strong following that there may very well be the possibility of our beloved bear and bird becoming DLC for Super Smash Bros WiiU/3DS, which I would personally love more than anything in the world.  If you want to join the ranks of these fans and wish to play a game that fun, enjoyable, and quirky while still being challenging then Banjo-Kazooie is a title I recommend highly.  I love this game, and I hope I've shown some of you how much of a gem we've gt here now that the review is coming to a close.  I hope some of you will seek it out to play it.

Conclusion

There is a reason this review went the way it ultimately did.  When KoD originally approached me about doing a Banjo-Kazooie review in exchange for helping me acquire a Lucina amiibo, I jumped straight into the game but I honestly really hated it to begin with.  It was only through perseverance and some coercion by KoD that I ultimately saw the beauty of this game.  Why is that?

Before I wrapped my head around this game I was going to honestly say that people shouldn't want to play this game because there are so many games out there that do what this game is trying to do that it's insurmountable.  Want a 3D platformer?  Play Super Mario Galaxy.  Want a game full of collecting things?  Play a Pokemon, Elder Scrolls, or Fallout game... there's lots of collecting there!  Want a game with puzzles?  Pick up Professor Layton.  Want a Nintendo 64 classic?  Play Ocarina of Time.  Want a game with excellent transformations?  Try out Majora's Mask.  Want a game with unique worlds and quirky characters?  Pick up Conker's Bad Fur Day.  There are so many better options out there why would anyone play Banjo-Kazooie?  Then it hit me like a Beak Buster to the head.

Games such as Banjo-Kazooie and even Super Mario 64 are beloved not because of pure nostalgia alone though that does honestly hold a sizable portion of the love.  It certainly doesn't hold up because of how the game plays in comparison to modern games, but rather by the fact that these games not only fathered much of what we have grown to love but also were darn good or reasonably good at the time they were created.  Why do movies from the 50's and 60's still get watched and praised?  Because they were good at the time and even with  a modern viewpoint they are still pretty great now.  The same can be said about Banjo-Kazooie.  It was breathtaking at the time.  The quirky characters and Kazooie's one-liners were and still are good.  If you can put aside how games are played now and put yourself in the mindset of the 90's you can easily enjoy the controls and how the game was played and received back then.

For example, I love Doctor Who.  The show is one of my favorites of all time.  I even love the classic series that began in 1963 which many modern viewers don't really care for as much.  If you were to look at specific effects and acting choices from the classic series such as THESE....
You could easily make the same mistake I made about Banjo-Kazooie with Classic Doctor Who.  On the surface things look pretty terrible and if you were to present these same things NOW as a new show they would be laughably awful, however putting yourself in the mindset of someone watching them for the first time in the 60's and 70's and ignoring a modern technical know-how you can really get at the wonderful core of the show and truly appreciate it.  Banjo-Kazooie is just the same as these classic Who episodes.  Yes, some things are outdated but that should make you appreciate it more for blazing the trail so that we could have things that are even better; just never forget those pioneers who allowed all this to happen.

Banjo-Kazooie is a fun game... sometimes a little too challenging for someone who is awful with 3D platformers, but fun.  It has that certain unspoken charm and nature about it that screams of the quality and passion poured into every snippet of data in the game.  It's a love that you feel and not rationalize.  Honestly, the icing on the cake of enjoying this game came from something I didn't even notice till I began this review.  It was the fact that I actually owned the game already despite having sour feelings towards it initially.  I don't remember when I bought it and I don't even remember ever trying to play the game after I bought it either... it was just sort of there in my gaming cabinet waiting for me.  The influence of this game, it's greatness, and it's fans surpassed even my own initial thought process of the game and for me that makes it a winner. 

Thank you, KoD, for opening my eyes to something that's great which I have been neglecting all these years.

No problem, my work here is done!  Ah, it's time to part... Ciao!

This is Ghost, fading into the darkness.

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