By Marshall Garvey
I’ve always said to myself that I have a knack for timing things in life not just well, but insanely well. Recent news from the gaming world provided one of the most gleeful instances of this yet. Just as I commenced work on my Hall of Fame Review of Banjo-Kazooie (which will immediately be followed by Banjo-Tooie’s induction), it was announced that a successor to the franchise is being cooked up by the former braintrust from Rareware’s glory days.
This is simply amazing news on so many levels. First, it could serve to rectify one of the biggest disasters in gaming history, that of Microsoft’s wholesale purchase of Rare in 2002. As many know, this move eventually led many of the company’s top developers to leave, leading to the significant decline in quality of Rare’s product thereafter. Now working under the banner of Playtonic Games, the event of them carrying on after all this time is sweet justice for gaming. And they’re hardly reserved about their prospects, with an introduction on their official website that reads:
“We’ve got the bloke who programmed Donkey Kong Country, the character designer behind Banjo and Kazooie, and the artist who made your console fit to burst with lavish environments across a decade’s worth of adventure games.”
Second, it gives the Banjo-Kazooie franchise a chance to shine for new generations of gamers. While the games and characters may be religious to many players of a certain age, the series hasn’t been given the proper reiterations like Mario and Zelda receive. And as the franchise’s first two games glaringly indicate, the bird and bear duo deliver adventures every bit as satisfying as Nintendo’s main cash cows. (And look, I can’t muster any more punchlines about Nuts and Bolts. JonTron marvelously took care of that for me.)
While I’m content to enjoy the 1998 and 2000 classics for now, my anticipation for a new title will likely exceed any excitement I’ve had for a new game thus far. The Banjo-Kazooie franchise goes beyond being stellar gaming, and is really more like a huge part of my very existence. They instilled me and many others with a loving sense of imagination that is sorely missing in modern gaming. And now, all signs are the original crafters of that spectacular imagination are set to bring it back once again. I’m positively hippo belching with glee!