Super Mario 64 VS Banjo-Kazooie

Script written by David Thibault For those who grew up with an Nintendo 64, these 2 games were very likely you go-to 3D platformer on your shiny new Christmas present. Join WatchMojo.com as we square off the two biggest 3D Platforming juggernauts on the system: Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 versus Rare’s Banjo Kazooie.
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Script written by David Thibault

Super Mario 64 VS Banjo Kazooie


For those who grew up with an Nintendo 64, these 2 games were very likely you go-to 3D platformer on your shiny new Christmas present.

Welcome to WatchMojo.com as today we’re squaring off the two biggest 3D Platforming juggernauts on the system: Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 versus Rare’s Banjo Kazooie.

Round 1: Legacy


Super Mario 64 was the premier launch title for the Nintendo 64, and is considered a major revolution in 3D gaming thanks it its sprawling worlds, innovative camera controls for its time, and the first console game to employ full 3D analog movement. It was also the best selling game on the system with over 11 million units sold.

There was a Super Mario 64-2 planned for the 64DD. However when that expansion failed the project was cancelled, with the next 3D Mario platformer being the successful but divisive: Super Mario Sunshine on the Gamecube. Though we later did get the incredible Super Mario Galaxy games on the Wii.

Banjo-Kazooie came to us from UK developers Rare, whose previous successes at the time include Donkey Kong Country and Goldeneye 007. Releasing 2 years after Mario 64, the game also became a critical and commercial success and while it didn’t get the same revolutionary praise as Mario it is still considered one of Rare’s best works yet.

That game got direct sequel with Banjo-Tooie, 2 years later, another stellar hit by Rare. … However! In 2002 Rare was purchased by Microsoft, and with the change in management, came a change in attitude into thinking 3D platformers were dead, meaning the last we saw of the duo was in … this monstrosity! (Show Nuts and Bolts). Of course the successful Kickstater of the Spiritual Sucsessor Yooka-Layle said otherwise, and we can only predict that this was Microsoft’s reaction when they saw the newly formed Playtonic got $1 million in crowd funding in less than a day. ( “Anyone who’s not the head of a department, should leave … You Idiots, you moron’s! That’s an insult to morons”)

Still this is one is obvious. Banjo-Kazooie last great game was back in 2000, while Mario continues be one of the biggest names in gaming today. So one point to Mario, and one big middle finger to Microsoft.


Mario 64 – 1 Banjo Kazooie - 0

Round 2: Movement and Power Ups


For his 3D debut Mario came with a surprising amount of acrobatic manoeuvres, ranging from Backflips, Long jumps, Somersault’s, Butt stomps, Triple Jumps, Climbing and Crawling. All of which are available to use right from the start, but explaining how to do them is a bit problematic for casual players as there’s no tutorial aside from the odd signpost.

Banjo’s moveset has quite a few similarities of similarities to Mario’s though with a bird in his backpack he as a bit more variety, on top of Backflips and Butt Stomps, Kazooie can hover for a few extra feet which is very useful for tricky jumps, not to mention she can shoot eggs, walk up steep slopes and barge enemies with her beak. Most of these moves can’t be used until taught by the mole: Bottles, and while a tutorial teaching basic moves can be skipped, the more advanced ones cannot.

The Powerups for both games are where things are vastly different and hard to compare, so lets focus on what is featured in both games: flight. For Mario he has the winged cap which can be found in any Red ? Blocks. The controls for the winged cap however, aren’t exactly smooth sailing, as Mario has to build up momentum in order to gain altitude, which can be very cumbersome. Compare this to Banjo Kazooie where you only need to press the A button to gain height, and its easy to see which game makes you feel more like Superman.

There is one last feature Banjo-Kazooie has that Mario has no equivalent for, and that of course are the animal transformations provided by the shaman: Mumbo Jumbo, each one allowing for the duo to explore previously unreachable areas and expanding the gameplay variety.

So in the end while both games have their own fair share of pros and cons that cancel each other out, Banjo-Kazooie end up taking this round, mostly thanks to Mumbo.

Mario 64 – 1 Banjo Kazooie - 1

Round 3: Enemies and Bosses


Being a Mario title, most of Bowser’s trademark minions are out to get Mario in droves. You got your standard Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Boos, Piranha Plants, Bob-Ombs and many other recurring enemies that you’ll see throughout your adventure. And as for bosses, they’re rather infrequent and go down rather easily with just 3 hits and honestly aren’t very memorable. Bowser on the other hand is a bit more memorable since you fight him 3 times in the game, though his battles are pathetically easy, as they merely involve swinging him by his tail into some bombs scattered around the arena.

Banjo-Kazooie foes on the other hand, have a more unique variety to them, as every world has a unique set of enemies set to the theme of that area. For example you may have giant ants in a giant ant hill, then walking tombstones in a cemetery. Mario had these as unique enemies as well, but there’s nowhere near the variety seen here.

Banjo’s bosses … just like Mario’s are also rather infrequent and rather easy to take down … except for the one battle that matters: The final battle against the witch Gruntilda. This boss fight is incredibly challenging, but oh so rewarding thanks to the various phases, and the absolute satisfaction of knocking the witch off her castle and burying her under the rubble of her castle.

Banjo-Kazooie easily takes this round

Mario 64 – 1 Banjo Kazooie - 2

Round 4: Collectables


Both games have a very similar progression systems where the player must collect some important trinkets. For Super Mario 64’s there are 120 Stars to collect with a minimum of 70 needed to beat the game, these are used to unlock certain doors in the hub-world. Collecting 100 coins in each level will also grant you a bonus star, and while this process can get a bit tedious, it’s not as important unless your going for 100% completion.

Banjo-Kazooie has 2 important trinkets, Jigsaw pieces and Musical Notes. Jigsaw pieces are used to access the game’s levels with 100 in total, of which 94 are needed to finish the game, and Musical notes are used to unlock certain doors in the Hub World to progress further. However there is a frustrating road block that can really annoy players, The collected music notes aren’t saved, instead the game simply keeps a tally of the number of notes you collected on that run. Meaning that if you die or leave the world: you have to start the process all over again.

Since collecting 100 coins isn’t as important as collecting 100 notes Super Mario 64 takes the round to equalize.

Mario 64 – 2 Banjo Kazooie - 2


Round 5: Levels


Both games are built around a hub world that is used to access their uniquely designed levels. Super Mario 64 has 15 of these levels, with 6 stars hidden in each stage. The first few stars are pretty straightforward to find since the start of each stage normally gives a hint to what the player is looking for and is as simple as getting from A to B. That being said, the aesthetics of these levels have not aged well, as most of the worlds use very basic geometric objects as platforms that looks rather ugly by today’s standards.

Banjo Kazooie on the other hand only has 9 worlds, but the tradeoff is that they’re bigger than Mario 64’s worlds and have more jigsaw pieces to collect with 10 in each stage. Plus the game places a stronger emphasis on exploration as opposed from A to B traversal and the game allows for Banjo and Kazooie to stay in the world for as long as they need to find all the jiggies, as opposed to Mario 64 which ejects the player from the world whenever they’ve found a star. Its also abundantly clear that Rare put lot of attention to detail went into creating each of these worlds, thanks to each level being multi-layered with loads of NPC’s to meet and chat to.

So in the end it’s a question of Quantity VS Quality, as both games strive to hit different styles of gameplay. It’s a close one to call but in the end the final round, and the winner of the face off is… … … Banjo Kazooie.

Mario 64 – 2 Banjo Kazooie – 3

WINNER: Banjo-Kazooie

Super Mario 64’s impact on gaming as a whole, cannot be overstated enough as we said in the first round. However Iconography and sales figures don’t determine the quality of the game. Banjo Kazooie’s attention to detail and variety in gameplay was more than enough for it to be considered the better title.

Agree with our choice, let us know which game you preferred, and for more Versus videos now being published every week alongside our daily top 10’s be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com
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