By Carbon64 9 Comments
Now it should be known that I like both of these games. I mean back in the late 90s the 3D platformer genre was booming and these were the 2 games leading the pack. Basically in this blog I will say what I like about each game and what I did not like so much or thought was better in the other. Then in the comments I would like you to choose which game you liked better and why.
Now it probably goes without saying that Super Mario 64 does not have much of a story just looking at the track record of most Mario games. Bowser captures Princess Peach and it is up to Mario to save her, pretty basic stuff. Banjo-Kazooie on the other hand while it does also use the basic damsel in distress story it is done in a way that better shapes the world around. For example Bowser captures Peach because..... oh yea that's right he never tells us but, Gruntilda the villain of Banjo-Kazooie captures Tootie so she can transfer her beauty onto herself. Giving the villain a motive and a real consequence when the player loses makes Banjo-Kazooie win out in the story department. Banjo-Kazooie just has better fleshed out characters with souls and personalities while Super Mario 64's characters are bland or just emotionless.
One attribute of 3D platformers is the hubworld which works as the central place where all the levels are. I must say both hubworlds are great in both of these games but, the question is which is better? Gruntilda's Lair in Banjo-Kazooie was much larger than Peach's Castle in Super Mario 64 to the point it was a level itself. The music in Gruntilda's Lair would even change to a remixed version of the regular background music depending on how close you were to another level. In this case though bigger is not better. Super Mario 64's hubworld had one attribute that truly makes it better......SECRETS! Not to say Gruntilda's Lair did not have secrets but, the secrets in Super Mario 64 were more abundant and very clever. I bet everyone reading is familiar with the sun pattern that takes you to the fly cap level or the blank metal wall that takes you to the sand level which by the way you are led to by a rabbit who has a star. While Gruntilda's Lair was bigger it did not offer much in for discovery while Peach's Castle while smaller had more stuff to find and surprise you.
In Super Mario 64 there are alot of things Mario can do that he never could like wall jumping, crawling, long jumping, punching, and many more. However, Banjo-Kazooie has Mario beat with the actions that were given to both Banjo and Kazooie like the talon trot, fire eggs, feathery flap, flap flip, and forward roll. The actions in Banjo-Kazooie were just a more interesting than Super Mario 64 and they were all needed to beat the levels unlike in Super Mario 64 where some of the actions were almost never used. Besides the normal actions Banjo-Kazooie also has Super Mario 64 beat in power ups. While the red feathers are the equivalent of the fly cap and the golden feathers just make you invincible the best power ups in the Banjo-Kazooie were the animal transformations. While the power ups in Super Mario 64 only showed up occasionally in levels the animal transformations were required if you wanted to get all the Jiggies. Super Mario 64's fly cap, invisibility cap, and metal cap were not used much and in my opinion were not as charming.
Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie levels both consisted of collecting objects that were needed to open new levels and progress in the game but, they differed in some areas. Super Mario 64 levels were based on a clue that was given before you entered a level. While at times cryptic I'm looking at you "Blast Away the Wall" the clues were really cool in the way that you had to figure out where the star could be based only on a single clue. Super Mario did have a problem with it's levels that were not in Banjo-Kazooie. When you got a Power Star in Super Mario 64 you would be exited from the level while in Banjo-Kazooie if you found a Jiggy you were still allowed to continue searching for the rest. It may seem like a small gripe but, it is part of why Super Mario 64 has shown some age over the years.
Banjo-Kazooie levels on the other hand had no clues and finding the Jiggies in the levels was based on helping NPCs, exploring the terrain, and defeating enemies. In this category I have to give the win to Super Mario 64 but, don't worry I'll explain. Banjo-Kazooie might have had bigger levels and more things to collect however, I feel like that made some of the levels worse. In Banjo-Kazooie the main things you needed to collect are Notes (100 in each level) and Jiggies (10 in each level) while in Super Mario 64 you are only required to find Power Stars (7 in each level). Banjo-Kazooie's levels were so big if you weren't careful you could find yourself retreading the same areas over and over trying to find what you needed.
Also the main collectible the Jiggies required you to find other things to get them sometimes like collecting 5 Jingos for 1 Jiggy or needing Mumbo Skulls to transform so you could go to other areas. This made you have to search every nook and cranny to get all the Jiggies which made it feel more like you were trying to uncover secrets rather than just trying to beat the game. The Notes were also hidden in the levels pretty well but, to be fair there were some in plain sight and for the most part they were placed in a way that they led you to more Notes. My main gripe with Notes is that if you die your Note high score is saved but, all the Notes in the level reset so you can't easier distinguish which you had gotten before.
Ultimately my favorite of the two is Super Mario 64. You may say I just have problems with Banjo-Kazooie just because its the harder of the two but, that's not true. Banjo-Kazooie was not hard in a way that was fun its problem is that it is too tedious. If Rare had scaled back how many things you needed to collect to beat the game similar to how you only need 70 Power Stars in Super Mario 64 to beat the game it would have been a better game. The fact that you need to almost 100% Banjo-Kazooie just to complete it is a concept that is ridiculous to me.