Last month, I wrote an editorial about how Rare’s Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark paved the way for the dominating first-person shooting genre that we know of today. Games like Halo and Call of Duty potentially wouldn’t exist today if not for the massive popularity that Goldeneye and Perfect Dark brought to the genre and basically defined it for future generations. What many people may not know, however, is that there was one other game for the Nintendo 64 that was popular in its own right and had some clearly obvious inspirations from both Goldeneye and Perfect Dark: that game is none other than Banjo-Tooie.
For anyone who has played Rare’s Banjo-Tooie and its Nintendo 64 FPS brethren, then you probably already know where this is going. For those of you haven’t, then you may find it quite surprising to know that Banjo-Tooie had its fair share of FPS moments. Banjo-Tooie is, through-and-through, a platformer first and foremost just like its predecessor, Banjo-Kazooie. Gruntilda is once again causing trouble for the bear and bird duo and they set out on a quest to collect Jiggies, Musical Notes, Jinjos, and so forth through eight massive worlds. The first world they encounter is Mayhem Temple and this is also the FPS experience makes its first debut.
In Mayhem Temple, there is an area called Targitzan’s Temple where there are a couple of Jiggies and a Jinjo to be obtained; but this isn’t just your normal run-of-the-mill jump and run area to explore as it requires a special move learned from Bottles’ brother Jam-Jars. This move is called the Breegull Blaster and it allows Banjo and Kazooie to enter first person mode in select areas (such as Targitzan’s Temple). When using the Breegull Blaster, Banjo basically pulls Kazooie from the backpack and uses her as a makeshift gun that uses various types of eggs as ammo and a Beak Bayonet attack for a powerful melee strike. It is during these moments when playing the primary campaign where Banjo-Tooie starts to feel like a different game.
It’s clear from the get-go that the Breegull Blaster moments of the game were inspired by Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. The controls are exactly the same from using the ‘Z’ button to fire and the ‘C’ buttons to strife and so forth. It works flawlessly as you would expect and is plenty of fun. There are more areas throughout the game that include this feature beyond Targitzan’s Temple and there is always a fresh and unique feel to it. You’re never confined to just waiting for those single-player moments, however, as there is a multiplayer mode specifically tailored for players to get together and blast each other with eggs to their hearts content.
The multiplayer aspect of Banjo-Tooie’s first person elements really does rival those of Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. While it certainly isn’t nearly as immersive or expansive as the other two games, it still retains the same amount of fun and the core elements are there in B-T that helped define GE and PD into the games they became with the same basic controls and four player split-screen mayhem that you have come to expect. So next time you dust off that old Nintendo 64 for some classic FPS fun, perhaps you should give Banjo-Tooie a whirl and see for yourself just how awesome of an FPS title it can be as well? It is also available to download on the Xbox LIVE Arcade where you can get the same great experience updated with today’s standard FPS controls. Give it a shot and you may just be surprised to find an amazing FPS experience in a place where you were least expecting to find it.