Donkey Kong 64 (Nintendo 64)

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Written by  :  Vance (101)
Written on  :  Feb 17, 2002
Platform  :  Nintendo 64

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It's... Banjo-Kazooie. Except with a little... no, it's Banjo.

The Good

*Big honkin' levels with lots of replay built in. *Purty colors courtesy of the N64 expansion pack. *Five different characters. *Rareware gameplay is always a plus.

The Bad

*Rapidly degenerates into your father's Oldsmobile with lots of easter egg hunts. *Expansion pack required... damn you, Nintendo, and your obsession with cartridges! *Differences in characters largely cosmetic. *Large credit card bills from buying new controllers after psychotic fits induced by "fun" racing mini-game. *Characters can't fling own poop.

The Bottom Line

It used to be that Rare was a bold innovator of every genre it touched. Goldeneye redefined the FPS game and is still superior in many aspects to today's offerings. Banjo-Kazooie out-Marioed Mario, and Diddy Kong racing... well, okay, that one was just Mariokart in 3D, so what? It still rocked. Sadly, though, Rare has realized that it's "not getting any better than this" and has simply been rereleasing its old engines with new characters and game concepts. Perfect Dark is Goldeneye, except with better graphics, slower framerates, and a story that makes a good argument for bringing back Mystery Science Theater 3000. Likewise, Donky Kong 64 is Banjo-Kazooie with kiddie guns, jungle themes, and monkeys. The main difference is that in an attempt to keep players involved, the team decided to make you complete tasks in later levels that would unlock items in earlier levels. This is actually a nice idea and would have worked if the whole process weren't so damn tedious. Oh well, welcome to the creativity levels of most developers, Rare. Burnout's a risk in this industry. Oh, and did I mention that some of the mini-games embedded in the larger game are so frustratingly hard that after approximately 457 kazillion jillion tries you automatically (in real life) turn into the Hulk a SMASH CONTROLLER! Ahem. Sorry, flashback. This attempt to up the playing experience and keep players playing to achieve the ultimate ending has done its share to increase the ratio of underage drinkers, is my guess. Not that I am bitter. Still, it's an okay game and if you're a Rare fanatic (understandable, it's hard to top their otherwise solid engines) then you should at least spare it a try.