North American boxart for Banjo-Kazooie.
Developer Rareware
Publisher Nintendo
Release dates December 6, 1998 (JP)
June 29, 1998 (NA)
July 17, 1998 (EU)
Genre Platform
Modes Single-player
Platforms Nintendo 64
Media 128-megabit cartridge

Banjo-Kazooie is a platform and action-adventure hybrid video game developed by Rareware and published by Nintendo in 1998 and was released for the Nintendo 64. This game is the only game in the series to be released in the 1990s. The game is the inaugural release of the Banjo-Kazooie series. The game's story focuses on a bear named Banjo and a bird named Kazooie as they set out on a quest to rescue Banjo's sister, Tooty, who was kidnapped by the witch Gruntilda. Along their journey, the two receive help from Mumbo Jumbo and Bottles the Mole, as well as various other characters in smaller roles. Banjo-Kazooie went on by becoming one of the most popular games for the console.


Gruntilida asking Dingpot, before capturing Tooty.

The story begins one day at Spiral Mountain, an area inhabited by Banjo, Kazooie, Tooty, Bottles, and several other creatures, including giant hopping carrots and onions as well as flying cauliflower. On that particular morning, while the sun is shining and the fauna are flourishing, Banjo lies snoring in his bed while Tooty is waiting for Banjo to go on an adventure with her.

Meanwhile, Gruntilda is hunched over her cauldron in her mountain lair, admiring her own beauty despite her appearance. She remains convinced that she is the loveliest in the land. Asking her magical cauldron, Dingpot, if she indeed is the fairest of all, assured that she will hear her own name, Dingpot answers that it is in fact not her, but Tooty who is the fairest in the land. Gruntilda is enraged by this and sets out to Tooty's house to kidnap her and steal her beauty.

Back outside Banjo's house, Tooty is talking to Bottles the mole when Gruntilda sweeps down and kidnaps Tooty, who does not go without a fight. Banjo, of course, sleeps through the whole thing (despite Kazooie continually yelling at Banjo to wake up), and only walks out of the house shortly after Gruntilda has flown away with Tooty. After hearing what transpired from Bottles, Banjo and his friend Kazooie begin their journey up Spiral Mountain and inside Grunty's Lair to save Tooty.

Along this journey they venture through different worlds, all branched off of Gruntilda's Lair. Some are cold and rigid, some hot and dry, some wet, some damp, and even some frightening. All the different worlds give the player a different mood on the game, in turn keeps the player in the game. All the while Gruntilda and Tooty wait within a machine built by the witch's main assistant, Klungo, which will swap their levels of beauty.

Banjo and Kazooie won Tooty.

Towards the top of the lair, Banjo and Kazooie are challenged by Gruntilda to play a board game set over a pit of molten magma, with answers based on elements from the entire game up to this point. If they win the game, then Tooty will be set free; if they lose, they will be thrown into the inferno. The duo wins and rescue Tooty while Gruntilda escapes. They begin to celebrate with a barbecue back home until Tooty reminds them that the witch is still at large.

Banjo and Kazooie make their way back up the lair until they finally reach the roof, with help from Dingpot. There Gruntilda challenges them to a more direct confrontation. However, with the help of the Jinjos, small creatures who were imprisoned throughout the worlds by the witch and rescued by the duo, Banjo and Kazooie defeat Gruntilda and ultimately knock her off her tower. She lands in a hole in the ground which is covered by a large rock that fell from the tower, trapping her. Banjo and Kazooie finally take a well-deserved break at the beach, where they and their friends anticipate the sequel, "Banjo-Tooie," while Gruntilda, whose minion Klungo is trying to rescue her, swears revenge.


Banjo, while walking around worlds.

Banjo-Kazooie adopted many of its central game play mechanics from Nintendo's groundbreaking title Super Mario 64. For instance, the player must similarly explore non-linear 3D worlds and gather tokens in the form of jigsaws (like Super Mario 64's stars) to unlock new worlds. However, Banjo-Kazooie is often considered an evolution of Super Mario 64 as it introduced a number of innovative features. These included the ability for Banjo and Kazooie, with the aid of Mumbo's magical powers, to transform into other creatures such as a termite, crocodile, walrus, pumpkin, and bee; the ability for the characters to learn new moves (as taught by Bottles); the game's extensive use of textures for surfaces where other N64 games would have used plain colors, extensive lighting, and music that dynamically changes style in order to reflect the environment and dangers to the characters. The Banjo-Kazooie central theme music, heard in the main play area, changed to reflect the environment entrance (levels) the player was near, such as taking on music box instrumental-style play near the ice level entrance. The music's notes and play never changed though, producing a seamless integration into the new instruments without stopping the forever-looping song.

Like Super Mario 64 before it, the player proceeds through the game by finding tokens. There are three kinds of tokens that help the player progress through the game, namely jigsaw pieces, musical notes, and Mumbo's Tokens. Jigsaw pieces open doors to new worlds by collecting enough to complete the corresponding jigsaw puzzle. There are ten Jiggies in each world: nine must be sought and found, and one is granted by finding all five Jinjos on each world. Unlike Super Mario 64, Banjo doesn't have to exit the world every time he collects a Jiggy.) Musical notes open magic note doors that allow Banjo and Kazooie to progress further into Gruntilda's lair. There are 100 notes in each world, and 900 total in the game. Mumbo's tokens grant the player magical transformations at Mumbo's hut when the player collects a sufficient amount. These transformations include termite, crocodile, walrus, pumpkin and bee.

Besides these primary Tokens, players may also collect items which are used in performing certain moves. Bottles the Mole must teach Banjo and Kazooie the move before the item can be utilized. Items include blue eggs, red feathers and gold feathers, which can be held in quantities up to 100, 50 and 10, respectively. Blue eggs are fired as projectiles or ejected from Kazooie's rear, and bounce slowly until they either hit an enemy, or break on their own; red feathers are utilized in flight and flying attacks; and gold feathers are for the most powerful attack, Wonderwing, which uses Kazooie's wings to make her and Banjo invincible and can defeat almost any enemy, or at least protect them both. Furthermore, rarer temporary items can be found which have specialized use in puzzle-solving, namely wading boots, which enable the crossing of hazardous terrain, and running shoes, which grant extra running speed, often as part of a race or a time-based puzzle. Finally, there are power-ups such as extra lives, which look like golden Banjo statues and grant one extra life each, and honeycomb energy, which incrementally increases the player's health and can be found in each level. Collecting six extra Honeycomb Pieces and gives Banjo and Kazooie a permanent increase of one honeycomb of health.

A large feature of gameplay is that the characters make limited speech-like sounds when they talk. The voices were not real speech, but rather a looping of voice-like sounds when text bubbles were displayed. This artistic choice was likely made due to memory limitations on Nintendo 64 cartridges; however, this added considerably to the atmosphere and uniqueness of the game.

Besides the technical aspects, Banjo-Kazooie's rich characters were what really made the game come alive. Gruntilda the witch always spoke in rhymes (which she would declare inexplicably as Banjo and Kazooie wandered about her lair), such as, "It really does sound quite absurd, adventure of a bear and bird!" Kazooie was always very annoyed at Bottles the Mole, and various other smaller characters made memorable appearances. One notable motif is that nearly all objects, including wrapped presents, mines, and vegetables, had eyes.

Stop 'n' Swop

Main article: Stop 'n' Swop

Stop 'N' Swop is an incomplete feature in Banjo-Kazooie. Six colored eggs and a key made of ice were discovered in the game that would be viewable in a menu titled Stop 'N' Swop. In an ending sequence of Banjo-Kazooie, Mumbo Jumbo would tell the players that secret areas would be accessible via a link with the sequel, Banjo-Tooie. Stop 'N' Swop was never fully realized in Banjo-Tooie. The special items can still be collected in Banjo-Kazooie using a cheat cartridge or in-game cheat codes, though the purpose they would have served in Banjo-Tooie, as well as how the games were meant to link, has not been specified.


  • Banjo: a lovable yet somewhat confused bear. The hero of this game.
  • Kazooie: a Red Crested Breegull with a cutting wit. Banjo's partner in action and character foil.
  • Mumbo Jumbo: a shaman that helps the duo by transforming them into various creatures.
  • Bottles the Mole: a shortsighted mole that teaches the duo new moves among other things.
  • Gruntilda Winkybunion: a witch that wants Tooty's beauty.
  • Klungo: Gruntilda's servant, something like an Igor character.
  • Tooty: Banjo's little sister, captured by the witch for her beauty and youth.
  • Jinjo: Cute, little, lost animals who are to be found along the game. They are used to defeat Gruntilda, after she put a spell to send them to various places.

Notable/Cameo Appearances

  • In Click Clock Wood, Banjo and Kazooie meet a character named Gnawty the Beaver. This character is similar to the enemy from the Donkey Kong series. The Gnawty in this game looks very similar to the ones in Donkey Kong 64, except its skin is brownish and not blue (although there were brown Gnawties in Donkey Kong Country including a boss called Very Gnawty whom Gnawty resembles the most).
  • Tiptup makes an appearance in Bubblegloop Swamp as an NPC and had his own choir; the Tiptup Choir. Tiptup was one of the racers from Diddy Kong Racing, a racing game from 1997 which also featured Banjo as a playable character.
  • Not only is Roysten in the classroom, but on the white-board, a few maps are pictured, one of them being Treasure Trove Cove. On the map, Sharkfood Island is marked with an "X", where the secret pink egg is located. Underneath the maps, 4 eggs and the Ice Key are shown next to each other with "=?" shown after.
  • In Donkey Kong 64, the fanfare music that plays after feeding Scoff is the same music heard when a secret egg or key is collected in Banjo-Kazooie.
  • A Berri poster can be found at Rusty Bucket Bay on the other side of the ship in a breakable window. In the Xbox Live Arcade version, it changed to Conker.
  • Several characters from other Rare games are referenced as wrong answers in Grunty's Furnace Fun such as Cranky Kong, Conker, Jamjars or Humba Wumba.


Spiral Mountain

Spiral Mountain acts as a training level in this game and is featured as the home to many characters, including Banjo and Kazooie. This is where a player must learn all the basic moves. Banjo's house lies on the outer part of Spiral Mountain. In addition, six honeycombs and two extra lives can be collected here. The object of this level is to gain basic knowledge of the game before storming Gruntilda's lair.

Gruntilda's Lair

Gruntilda's Lair is the main area where most of the game time is spent. Bottles, Brentilda, and Gruntilda's minions can be found here. The lair also has four sets of cauldrons to allow Banjo and Kazooie to skip over parts of the lair when they find a pair of a matching color. Gruntilda's Lair also leads to the final fight, after breaking the spells of all the note doors. To open these doors, Banjo and Kazooie's accumulated note scores must be equal to or higher than the number on the door. Gruntilda's lair is huge, with many secret compartments and doors that lead to puzzles that can only be opened if the player collects enough Jiggies to fill the puzzle and unlock the level.

Mumbo's Mountain

Mumbo's Mountain is a small, Indigenous-themed world. It is home to Conga the orange throwing Gorilla, Chimpy the Diddy Kong resembled monkey, termites (who lives in the tall termite stack), and Mumbo Jumbo the shaman. In this level Banjo and Kazooie learn the techniques: egg shooting, the beak buster, and talon trot through the assistance of Bottles.

Treasure Trove Cove

Treasure Trove Cove is an island that hosts a landlocked ship, the Salty Hippo, and the nearly-indestructible shark Snacker; a lighthouse over a massive natural arch dominates the skyline. In this level Flying Pads and Shock Jump Pads are introduced, and a character named Blubber, who also appears in Banjo-Tooie, makes his first appearance. Home of the Pink ? Egg.

Clanker's Cavern

Clanker's Cavern is a world of flooded caves and disposal pipes. This world is also home to Clanker, a giant mechanical shark. The place was used as Gruntilda's garbage disposal; half of the Jiggies to be found in this level lies inside Clanker himself.

Bubblegloop Swamp

Bubblegloop Swamp is a swamp with dangerous piranha-infested waters and is home to Mr. Vile the greedy crocodile and Tiptup and his choir. There's a crocodile head where Mr Vile resides, who challenges Banjo to eat more yumblies than him. Tiptup and his turtle choir are located inside a giant turtle deeper inside the swamp.

Freezeezy Peak

Freezeezy Peak is a snowy, mountainous world with a winter holiday theme whose focal point is an enormous snowman statue in the center; home to the twinklies, evil snowmen and Boggy's family, who also appear in Banjo-Tooie. It also holds the infamous ice key.

Gobi's Valley

Gobi's Valley is an Ancient Egyptian–themed desert world named after the camel Gobi, containing pyramids, quicksand, and a bear-modeled sphinx. Home to the infamous Blue ? Egg.

Mad Monster Mansion

Mad Monster Mansion is a horror-based world featuring frightening themes such as haunted houses, spooky mazes, ghosts, and tombstones; a toilet named Loggo also resides here. Home of both the Light Blue ? Egg and Green ? Egg.

Rusty Bucket Bay

Rusty Bucket Bay is a world centered around a large cargo ship, called the Rusty Bucket (referred to as the H.M.S. Gruntilda in the promotional video), docked amid polluted water. The port is surrounded by several warehouses which contain various useful items. Also home of Snacker the Shark and the Red ? Egg.

Click Clock Wood

Click Clock Woods is centered around a giant tree in a forest, four different doors will allow Banjo and Kazooie to enter the world through four seasons in this classic level. This place is the home of Gnawty the beaver and Nabnut the squirrel. Home of the Yellow ? Egg.

Unfinished Worlds

There were originally supposed to be more than nine worlds. However, they were never completed due to time restraints and were subsequently left out of the game. They are listed below:

  • Fungus Forest: A picture of the level can be seen in Banjo's house next to his bed. In beta Banjo-Kazooie videos, the level was shown with Banjo swimming underwater, a gate, and a giant, unnamed sea creature, which gamers assumed it was a prototype version of Clanker. It was instead used in Donkey Kong 64 as Fungi Forest.
  • Hammerhead Beach: Is the beta name of Treasure Trove Cove. In a Nintendo Power magazine, they showed pictures of Treasure Trove Cove but it was named Hammerhead Beach in the description. It was stated that the level was something to do with the fabled Stop 'N' Swop. In an ending scene of Banjo-Kazooie the characters are hanging out on a beach as a vacation. Hackers have been able to explore the area, but it would always show the ending scene events while they did so. The area is not completely finished, and the level is abnormally small.
  • Mount Fire Eyes: As stated by Chris Sutherland of Rare, "Mount Fire Eyes was incorporated into Banjo-Tooie as Hailfire Peaks.

The two other concepts for B-K worlds materialized in the sequel such as Glitter Gulch Mine and Witchyworld.


The soundtrack, consisting of music from the game composed by Grant Kirkhope, was released by Nintendo of America on a limited edition Compact Disc. This CD was sold exclusively at BestBuy and the Nintendo Power Catalog with two additional tracks.