Banjo Pilot Game Boy Advance
Developed by Rare
Release Date: Out Now
Banjo Pilot, an introduction.
Rare were responsible for quite a few of Nintendo's most famous games during the time of the Nintendo 64. One of their titles, Banjo-Kazooie, is widely considered to one of the best games created for the N64 and was a very popular game. Banjo Pilot takes the characters from the Banjo universe and installs them nicely into a racing game for the GBA.
What's the game about?
Ever fancied a Mario Kart type game where in place of the karts you have small aircraft instead? Well if you have then Banjo Pilot is the game for you because essentially that's exactly what it is. It's the same old formula then as you race around tracks collecting weapons and using them on your opponents in an attempt to make them lose time and positions. Of course they will be attempting to do the same thing to you too and that's what makes the game fun. Flying around the course, you'll encounter speed-up rings that give you a temporary speed boost in the same way that speed ramps give you a speed boost in Mario Kart. In total there are 9 playable characters (most of which are locked to begin with) and 16 circuits (yes despite being airborne you'll still race around a circuit and you'll slow down if you deviate from the circuit) to race around. Game modes include Grand Prix (made up of the standard four races), Time Trial, Jiggy Challenge and Quick Race. Multiplayer modes include Grand Prix, Head-to-Head and Dogfight.
What's good about the game?
As it sticks fairly rigidly to the Mario Kart formula you probably know a lot of what Banjo Pilot is about. There are a few extras here though. Collect the musical notes while you're flying around to maximise the number of Cheato pages you earn during a race. These Cheato pages will enable you to unlock various secrets within the game. In Jiggy Challenge you'll have to collect all 6 Jigsaw pieces in a race (and then win the race) to complete the Jiggy Challenge. Should you finish a Grand Prix with a certain number of points you'll be invited to compete in a Champion Challenge which is essentially a dogfight. These extras over the usual Mario Kart formula are quite good but they are certainly nothing special.
What's not so good about the game?
There's nothing particularly bad about Banjo Pilot. Maybe it sticks a little too closely to the Mario Kart formula (even with extras such as the Champion Challenge and Jiggy Challenge). Of course if you are looking for a Mario Kart style experience then this won't bother you too much. Naturally with flying aircraft you'll be able to fly up and down as well as move from side to side. Pressing down on the d-pad means you'll fly upwards and vice-versa. To be perfectly honest this doesn't make too much of a difference although flying upwards and down is perhaps a little over responsive. The biggest disappointment for me though was the lack of a single pak multiplayer mode meaning every one of your friends will have to own a copy of the game. As a result most people will never experience the multiplayer mode and this is a big disadvantage as the single-player game will only keep your attention for a limited amount of time.
How does it look?
With so many elements of the game being so similar to Mario Kart on the GBA it's no surprise to find that graphically it is also pretty similar. Essentially then this means the game does a good job of attempting to create a pseudo 3D environment. The game looks like a SNES game which is to be expected as the GBA has similar graphical capabilities. The various circuits that have been included all have their own particular theme and they don't look too bad at all. The animations in the game are also pretty much what you would expect. It's also worth mentioning that the game gives a pretty good sensation of speed and has no slowdown at all.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
There are no problems for deaf gamers with Banjo Pilot. All instructions are given in text and comments you receive from Bottles the mole, after a Jiggy Challenge race, (and Cheato when you are spending the Cheato pages you've earned) are shown in text too. During a race there are also no problems. You get the occasional voice clip that calls out what lap you're beginning, which isn't subtitled but you can find this information from a quick look at the top right of the screen so there is no harm done by this omission. The game manual is short and to the point but it doesn't leave any question unanswered, which is all you can ask.
Banjo Pilot is a decent alternative to Mario Kart but although a lot of the game mechanics are practically identical it doesn't end up being quite the same experience. The biggest disappointment is the lack of support for single pak multiplayer gaming. Mario Kart gave you the option to have 4 player races with only one game pak whereas with Banjo Pilot everyone will need a copy of the game. As a single-player experience Banjo Pilot is quite enjoyable but with games of this nature it's the multiplayer options that keep gamers coming back for more. That said though if you already have Mario Kart and want something similar you should be pleased with Banjo Pilot.
Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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Banjo Pilot is a solid single-player racer that's very much in the mould of Mario Kart. It's a shame you can't play multiplayer races with just one copy of the game though.