Although Banjo-Pilot features characters and levels from previous Banjo-Kazooie games, it is better considered an iteration in the Diddy Kong Racing series. The game was originally revealed as such in 2001 under the moniker of Diddy Kong Pilot when Rare, it's developer, was owned by Nintendo. However, after Rare was bought by Microsoft in 2002, the game could no longer be developed or released using the Donkey Kong characters. As a result, the game was converted into a Banjo-Kazooie title and published by a third party, THQ.
Although this was Banjo's last appearance on a Nintendo platform, Rare has since developed titles for Nintendo handhelds, revisiting the franchise with Diddy Kong Racing DS.
Banjo Pilot's most expensive in-game unlockable, Stop 'N' Swop, references the system of the same name that would have allowed players to travel between Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie.
The tracks used in Banjo-Pilot are mostly based on locations featured in the three prior games in the franchise, although not all tracks remain true to how they were in their original games. For example, Breegull Beach features scenery from the Treasure Trove Cove level in the background with a slightly altered course, and Cauldron Keep is set on an icy track even though the original area in Banjo-Tooie featured no snow or ice at all.
The player races against the other characters to earn points in one of the four GP's; Bottles GP, Grunty GP, Endurance GP and Jinjo GP. Bottles GP and Grunty GP's cups each comprise four tracks concluding with an aerial boss fight. The Endurance GP sees the player race through each of the sixteen tracks in the game in a random order, and the Jinjo GP makes the player go through six races of randomly chosen tracks against some slightly tougher Jinjo opponents. Each of these GP cups conclude with a trophy award ceremony, and if the player places well enough they can get a trophy added to their collection.
The player can elect to instantly go for a single race, using any character, however a limited selection of tracks.
On any given track, the player races against their own best time, represented by the ghost of either Bottles or Gruntilda.
The player races to collect six Jiggies scattered across eight tracks, whilst also finishing in first place against Bottles.