Banjo-Kazooie (series)

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Banjo Kazooie logo.png
Genre(s)Platforming, action-adventure
Publisher(s)Nintendo (1998–2000)
THQ (2003–2005)
Xbox Game Studios (2008–present)
Platform(s)Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, mobile phone, Xbox 360, Xbox One
First releaseBanjo-Kazooie
29 June 1998
Latest releaseBanjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
11 November 2008

Banjo-Kazooie is a series of video games developed by Rare. The games feature a male bear named Banjo and his friend, a large female red bird called Kazooie, who are both controlled by the player. Throughout the various games, they are tasked with thwarting the various evil schemes of a witch named Gruntilda. The first game Banjo-Kazooie was released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998. Subsequent entries in the series have appeared on different platforms.


Release timeline
2003Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge
2008Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts


Banjo-Kazooie (1998)[edit]

Banjo-Kazooie was released in 1998 for the Nintendo 64 and re-released in 2008 for the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade. In Spiral Mountain, Banjo's sister Tooty has been kidnapped by Gruntilda the witch, who wants to steal Tooty's beauty and give it to herself, and Banjo and Kazooie must save her. The goal is to progress through the witch's lair and the various worlds within it, collect items including golden jigsaw pieces which are needed to unlock new worlds and music notes that open up certain doors to help Banjo and Kazooie along their quest, and defeat Gruntilda.

Banjo-Tooie (2000)[edit]

Banjo-Tooie was released in 2000 for the Nintendo 64 and re-released in 2009 for the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade. Two years after Banjo and Kazooie defeat Gruntilda, her two sisters arrive and free her from her grave. Now reduced to a skeleton, Gruntilda plans to drain the life energy from the Isle O' Hags to restore herself to normal, leaving Banjo and Kazooie to stop her plans. Tooie is famous for being significantly harder than its predecessor; jigsaw pieces are almost never in visible places or easily accessed, and worlds were interconnected, forcing players to sometimes start in one world to complete a task in another. Other tasks often required players to learn a new ability in a later world before returning to a previous one to complete an objective. Many new features were added to the game, such as bosses in each world and a four-player multiplayer mode.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008)[edit]

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts was released in 2008 for the Xbox 360. The ending sequence in Banjo-Tooie suggested the title would be Banjo-Threeie, with early press releases tentatively calling it Banjo-Kazooie 3. The original trailer sported a more angular artistic design for the characters and complete fur and feather detailing on Banjo and Kazooie. The game released on 12 November 2008 near the tenth anniversary of the series.[1] It is the first original Banjo-Kazooie game released on a non-Nintendo system. The gameplay is a departure from the previous games in that, rather than learning new moves to continue, the player must instead build vehicles of all shapes and sizes to complete challenges, including races, transporting objects, fighting enemies, and a variety of other tasks. Gruntilda is still the main antagonist, but this time, a new character, the Lord of Games (L.O.G.) has swept Banjo, Kazooie, and most of the cast into an all new world where the main characters compete for control of Spiral Mountain.


Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie were re-released on Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade in 2008 and 2009 respectively. These versions featured fully HD graphics for both the polygonal models and 2D images. They also included revised controls and the reinstatement of the Stop 'N' Swop feature.

Rare Replay (compilation)[edit]

The re-released versions of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, as well as Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, were released for Xbox One on 4 August 2015, as part of the 30 game compilation, Rare Replay.[2]


Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge (2003)[edit]

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge was released in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance. It takes place two months after Banjo-Kazooie. While Gruntilda is still trapped under the boulder that fell on top of her, Klungo decides to make a robot for Gruntilda's spirit to dwell inside. During the game, Gruntilda transfers her spirit into the Mecha-Grunty robot and travels back in time to prevent the first meeting of Banjo and Kazooie. In the end, Gruntilda is trapped once more and tells Klungo to contact her sisters, thereby setting the events of Banjo-Tooie into motion. A port for mobile phones was released in 2004, and a mobile compilation of the game's minigames, titled Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge Missions, was released in 2005.

Banjo-Pilot (2005)[edit]

Banjo-Pilot was released in 2005 for the Game Boy Advance. This game is not part of the plot of the series, but is a racing game similar to Mario Kart where the characters race planes. The game was originally planned as a sequel to Diddy Kong Racing, titled Diddy Kong Pilot, but was retooled to feature Banjo-Kazooie characters following the purchase of Rare by Microsoft.

Other appearances[edit]

Prior to Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo's first appearance was as a playable racer in Diddy Kong Racing, released for Nintendo 64 in 1997. Following Microsoft's purchase of Rare, Banjo was absent from the game's Nintendo DS remake, Diddy Kong Racing DS. In Conker's Bad Fur Day & Conker: Live & Reloaded, Banjo's head can be seen, disembodied, above the fireplace in the main menu. Additionally, Kazooie's head can be found on the end of an umbrella in the chapter select screen for both games. In Grabbed by the Ghoulies, pictures of the characters and levels are seen throughout the game, along with monster versions of Banjo and Kazooie's heads mounted on the walls. Banjo and Kazooie also appear as a playable racer in the Xbox 360 version of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.[3][4] Developer Sumo Digital collaborated with Rare for the character’s inclusion, with Rare giving Sumo access to their asset library as well as designing and modeling Banjo and Kazooie’s in-game vehicle.[5] Several character skins based on the series are available as downloadable content in various versions of Minecraft.[6]

Banjo and Kazooie also appear as playable characters via downloadable content in the 2018 crossover fighting game, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.[7] Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox brand, stated that negotiating the characters' inclusion was an "easy deal to make" thanks to their strong third-party relationship with Nintendo.[8] The characters were released on September 4, 2019, along with a stage based on Spiral Mountain and Banjo-Kazooie musical arrangements, including one by original composer Grant Kirkhope.[9]

Stop 'N' Swop[edit]

Stop 'N' Swop menu with the six coloured eggs and the ice key

Stop 'N' Swop is a feature from Banjo-Kazooie that was supposed to be a means of unlocking special content in Banjo-Tooie. Though it was shown in an ending sequence in Banjo-Kazooie, evidence suggests that it was never fully implemented due to the Nintendo 64 revisions completed in 1999 that kept the feature from being practical.[10][11] The feature was widely publicised through a column published by Nintendo Power.[12] Rare announced that special areas and items in the game could only be reached by completing certain tasks in its sequel, Banjo-Tooie. It was later discovered that Banjo-Kazooie contains seven special items which can be accessed using lengthy in-game cheat codes[13] or by using a cheat cartridge. Once collected, these items would be viewable in a menu titled "Stop 'N' Swop". Even if the game is reset, all of the items will remain permanently.


An ending sequence in Banjo-Kazooie, should the player collect all 100 Jiggies in the game, indicated that two coloured eggs in the game would be put to use in the sequel Banjo-Tooie. There was also an inaccessible ice key shown in the sequence, which induced gamers to search for a way to get it. While only two eggs were shown in the sequence, hackers Alan "Ice Mario" Pierce and Mitchell "SubDrag" Kleiman of the Rare Witch Project fansite discovered in-game cheat codes to unlock a total of six different eggs and the ice key.[12] Other ways of getting the six eggs and key were previously discovered via the use of a cheat cartridge. Once acquired, these items would be viewable by all three game files, and would remain even after erasing the files.

In the years between the two Banjo-Kazooie games, Rare representatives were questioned on "Stop 'N' Swop" and how it would be implemented. Ken Lobb was reportedly unwilling to discuss how the connection would be made between the games.[14]

Banjo-Tooie was released in 2000 and offered a way to retrieve the items without the need to acquire Banjo-Kazooie. The player would attain them by destroying in-game Banjo-Kazooie Game Paks. These eggs could then be brought to Heggy the hen to hatch. There were three eggs in total (i.e. the pink, yellow, and blue eggs), one of which was already with the hen, but which Kazooie had to hatch herself. The ice key, however, was to be used to obtain an item locked in an ice vault, containing a Mega Glowbo, which could turn Kazooie into a dragon. No explanation for "Stop 'N' Swop" was revealed in the game. Nintendo released a statement on the matter expressing that the feature "was not implemented in the game, and although we know there is a code that opens this menu, it does not do anything at all. And as much as I would like to be able to answer your question about why it was not implemented in the game, this is not information that our Consumer Service Department has access to."[15]

In 2004, a patent filed by Rare was published which suggests that Stop 'N' Swop involved swapping cartridges with the power off to transfer data. The information would be momentarily retained by utilising the Rambus memory in the Nintendo 64.[10] As a result of changes done to the Nintendo 64 systems produced in 1999, the system could no longer do this effectively.

In February 2004, fansite Rare-Extreme was invited to tour Rare HQ which was the first outsider tour of the studio since Rarenet's visit in 1999. When Rare's management was asked about the Stop 'N' Swop feature they commented:[16]

It was never officially announced as being part of the game, It's in the past, lets move on

— Rare Management, Tour of Rare HQ 2004

In an August 2004 interview with ClubJoe,[17] an anonymous ex-Rare employee explained in detail how Stop 'N' Swop was going to work:

  • Only four eggs and the ice key were involved - two eggs (the cyan and yellow eggs, found in Mad Monster Mansion and Click Clock Wood) were "bad eggs" that would not be pointed to by Tooie, and would prevent Stop 'N' Swop from working since only hackers would have access to them.
  • Blackeye the pirate would give out sandcastle codes in Tooie in return for completing tasks, allowing the collection of the "good eggs" and ice key in Banjo-Kazooie.
  • By going through the gold warp pot in the Grunty's Furnace Fun with the appropriate items, the ice key would sparkle and open one of the locked doors in the transformation room seen in the GAME OVER sequence (owing to a programming mistake, the ice key would disappear afterward, so this would only work once).
  • Going through this door would result in Grunty complaining about Blackeye, and a message to swap cartridges.
  • In Tooie, the four eggs would be used to enable special transformations - Kazooie to a dragon (the only one remaining in the final game), Banjo to a polar bear, and two unspecified transformations that were never coded owing to the abandonment of the feature - as "fun and useful, but not needed" bonuses for those who had both games.

Another Stop 'N' Swop reference appeared in 2005's Banjo-Pilot. After completing most of the game, Cheato sells an item called "STOP 'N' SWOP" for 999 Cheato Pages. The only result of buying is Cheato saying: "So you want to know about Stop 'N' Swop, eh? I hope you're ready. Here goes...Why don't you stop annoying me and swop this game for a nice book or something?"

In a 2007 interview with Retro Gamer, Rare employees told the magazine reporters that they may have to wait until the release of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts for the details of Stop 'N' Swop to be revealed.[18] In March 2008, a new website appeared with an animation of the ice key rotating, the eggs, and the words "the answers are coming." On 1 April, however this was revealed to be an April Fool's joke created by The Rare Witch Project.[19]

In 2008, MTV conducted an interview with Salvatore Fileccia, lead software engineer at Rare. Fileccia cited that the abandonment of Stop 'N' Swop was due to revisions made to the Nintendo 64 circuitry. He stated that older versions of the system would have given the player 10 seconds to swap cartridges, while newer iterations of the console reduced this time to one second.[11]

At Microsoft's E3 press conference on 14 July 2008, it was announced that the original Banjo-Kazooie would be made available through the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) and feature Stop 'N' Swop connectivity with Nuts & Bolts to unlock new features.[20] In both the demo version and full version of Nuts & Bolts, Bottles also offers a "Stop 'N' Swop Truth" for 6,000 music notes. The Rare Witch Project extracted the demo's text string, which revealed that when Bottles is paid 6,000 notes he says "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you, and we couldn't show that in a game with this rating. Put it out of your mind and think happy thoughts! Thanks for the notes!".

On 27 January 2009, Rare announced that Banjo-Tooie would be released in April on XBLA and that the "original plan" for Stop 'N' Swop would be implemented.[21] It was revealed that the eggs and key in the XBLA version of Banjo-Kazooie would unlock bonus vehicle parts in Nuts & Bolts such as fuzzy dice.[22] In Nuts & Bolts there is an imprint of the ice key on top of Boggy's gym and drawings of the eggs throughout Showdown Town. When a Stop 'N' Swop item is collected in Banjo-Kazooie, a corresponding crate appears at each drawing. Banjo and Kazooie can take them to Mumbo to get the special vehicle parts. The level BanjoLand (a museum-like level that contains various artefacts from the first two games) also features large fake Stop 'N' Swop eggs that contain Gruntbots.

In the XBLA port of Banjo-Tooie, the six eggs and key from Banjo-Kazooie unlock the bonuses included in the original N64 version, as well as new content related to the Xbox 360.[23] Using the Stop 'N' Swop items in Banjo-Tooie will also unlock seven additional vehicle blueprints in the "L.O.G.'s Lost Challenges" downloadable content for Nuts & Bolts.[24] In place of the three preexisting eggs are gold, silver and bronze eggs. The three unlock achievements listed under a "Stop 'N' Swop II" submenu. Additional Stop 'N' Swop II achievements can be unlocked by completing specific objectives in the game. Like the original Stop 'N' Swop before it, the items and criteria to be met in Stop 'N' Swop II are meant to be used in a future Banjo game.


Aggregate review scores
As of 18 June 2014.
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Banjo-Kazooie (N64) 92.38%[25]
(X360) 80.88%[26]
(N64) 92[27]
(X360) 77[28]
Banjo-Tooie (N64) 91.31%[29]
(X360) 77.00%[30]
(N64) 90[31]
(X360) 73[32]
Grunty's Revenge
(GBA) 72.70%[33] (GBA) 72[34]
Banjo-Pilot (GBA) 66.78%[35] (GBA) 68[36]
Nuts & Bolts
(X360) 80.66%[37] (X360) 79[38]

Banjo-Kazooie's critical and commercial success led Rare to begin development of a sequel titled Banjo-Tooie, also for the Nintendo 64. Banjo-Tooie was released on 20 November 2000 to very positive reviews, and largely adopts the gameplay mechanics of its predecessor. Upon release, Banjo-Tooie was critically acclaimed and sold more than three million copies worldwide. The characters Banjo and Kazooie proved to be popular and made cameo appearances in subsequent Rare games such as Conker's Bad Fur Day and Grabbed by the Ghoulies.

Spiritual successor[edit]

In early 2015, a group of former Rare employees who worked on Banjo-Kazooie announced their formation of a new studio named Playtonic Games, planning a spiritual successor called Yooka-Laylee.[39] The developer initially sought funding for the game via the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform; its initial funding goal of £175,000 was reached within thirty-eight minutes, eventually raising over GB£2 million by the time the campaign concluded.[40] The game was released for Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in 2017.[41][42][43]


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  2. ^ Totilo, Stephen (3 August 2015). "Rare Replay: The Kotaku Review". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on 22 August 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  3. ^ Tristan Oliver. "FIRST @ TSSZ: It's Real…Banjo-Kazooie in ASR".
  4. ^ Brudvig, Erik (18 December 2009). "Banjo and Avatars Join Sega All Stars". IGN. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  5. ^ SEGAbits - Interview: Steve Lycett talks Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing
  6. ^ Xbox 360 Skin Pack 1 Hits Xbox Live
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  9. ^ Baird, Scott (11 June 2019). "Banjo-Kazooie Will Be Coming To Super Smash Bros. Ultimate". Screen Rant. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  10. ^ a b "System method and data storage medium for sharing data between video games". Retrieved 17 November 2006.
  11. ^ a b Why I Finally Accept What Happened To That "Banjo-Kazooie" Stop N Swop Thing Archived 8 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 28 May 2008.
  12. ^ a b "Classified Information". Nintendo Power. 143: 52–53. April 2001.
  13. ^ "Banjo-Kazooie Sandcastle Codes". Rare Witch Project. Retrieved 18 February 2008.
  14. ^ Tour of Rare HQ Archived 11 December 2004 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 23 February 2007.
  15. ^ Stop 'N' Swop Article Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 6 March 2007.
  16. ^ "Tour of Rare HQ". Archived from the original on 11 December 2004. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  17. ^ Archived interview with an unnamed ex-Rare employee:
  18. ^ "The Making of Banjo-Kazooie". Retro Gamer. 29 March 2007. p. 25.
  19. ^ Stop 'N' Swop Confession Retrieved on 6 February 2008.
  20. ^ Banjo-Kazooie to be released on Xbox Live Arcade Retrieved on 14 July 2008.
  21. ^ Fahey, Mike (27 January 2009). "Banjo-Tooie Coming In April With Stop 'N' Swop". Kotaku. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  22. ^ "Spiral Mountain - The blog of a gamer". Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  23. ^ Matt Wales (27 January 2009). "Rare Readies Banjo-Tooie for April". IGN. Archived from the original on 11 March 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
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  35. ^ "Banjo-Pilot Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  36. ^ "Banjo-Pilot Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  37. ^ "Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
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  40. ^ Sheridan, Corner (1 May 2015). "Banjo-Kazooie devs' Yooka-Laylee funded in 38 minutes". GamesRadar. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  41. ^ Krupa, Daniel (30 April 2015). "Spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie reveals its lead characters". IGN. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  42. ^ Skrebels, Joe (6 June 2016). "Yooka-Laylee Delayed to 2017". IGN. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  43. ^ "Yooka-Laylee Rattles Towards Release!". Playtonic Games' official website. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.

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