Who knew that a bear with a bird in his backpack turned out to be a great game concept?

User Rating: 9 | Banjo-Kazooie X360
If you're a long time gamer, you probably know who Rare is. The company that has brought us numerous cl@$$ics on the N64 such as Goldeneye or Conker. Now, perhaps one of their most famous games of all has found it's way to the Xbox Live Arcade for only 1200 mp ($15). Coming from someone who has never played the N64 original, this is one of the best 3D platformers ever made.

The story is very simple. There is a witch named Grunty who wishes the most beautiful in the land. However, Banjo's little sister, Tooty, is the sweetest and prettiest instead. Jealous, Grunty flies off on her broom and kidnaps Tooty, who was waiting for Banjo to wake up and go on an adventure. Banjo and Kazooie wake up and rush outside to see what the matter is only to be told by Bottles, a nerdy mole, that Tooty has been taken to Grunty's lair. The bear and bird duo run off to Grunty's lair to defeat the witch and rescue Banjo's sister before Grunty can switch looks with her. The whole story is based on humor mostly, especially Grunty herself or Kazooie's attitude. A lot of it is actually quite funny.

You take control of Banjo while Kazooie hangs out in his backpack and can help him pull off a large list of tricks. For instance, you can fly for a short period of time to get from one place to the next or you can use her to jump to higher platforms. Pushing the R trigger and L trigger together can switch to Kazooie and not only does she run faster, but she can climb steeper hills that Banjo can't. There are eggs laying around as well, which Kazooie can shoot out either in front or behind you. The game offers many moves that you will need all throughout your adventure.

You start the game outside of Banjo and Kazooie's house but you're not there for long. As soon as you climb spiral mountain and enter Grunty's lair, this is where you spend the rest of the game although you can exit any time you want (not much reason to). Grunty's lair is huge and your goal in the game is to beat all 9 worlds, solve all puzzles and collect as many jiggies as you can to defeat Grunty. Collect enough puzzle pieces scattered throughout all levels, and even Grunty's lair, to unlock the next level. Most of the jiggies come from completing certain puzzles but there is always one from saving all the "jinjos" in each level. In addition to puzzle piece (or "jiggies"), there are music notes to collect too, about 100 in each level. Music notes are needed to open doors to the next section of Grunty's lair and progress. For about the first few levels, you'll also gain a new much needed move to obtain certain jiggies but you need to find Bottles' hole to learn the move. Other new moves not already mentioned include flying (not just short distances like before), becoming invincible, or using certain objects (like shoes that make you run faster).

There will also be a few honey combs. Most of them just heal you if you're hurt but the special ones increase you maximum health when you collect enough. You will find feathers that help you fly, gold feathers which help you become invincible, eggs for ammo and mumbo tokens used for transforming into certain creatures needed in certain levels.

Of course, this game has a few improvements over the Nintendo 64 version. For instance, the graphics have some minor improvements and are much smoother around the edges. The lighting is a little better too and the screen resolution has been increased. Other notable differences include the lack of Nintendo logos like the N64 logo crawling across the screen at the beginning.

Whether you own an Xbox 360 or Nintendo 64, Banjo Kazooie is one game that you don't want to miss out on. This game is 3D platforming at it's finest and is worth every penny, both the original and this downloadable version. If you want a great platforming cl@$$ic for your 360 collection, you can't go wrong in downloading Banjo Kazooie. I haven't even played it on the N64 but I do love this game.