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Super Mario 64 vs. Banjo Kazooie

Or Clash of the 3D platformer titans

Ever since Rare's ultra secretive project known as "Dream" was announced in November of '97, everyone's been going wild over Banjo-Kazooie (what Dream turned into). Given Rare's N64 track record with goldeneye, their first 3D platformer would warrant attention. I do admit it is a great game, and one of the reasons to buy an N64, but I will not go as far as to say that it is unconditionally better than Super Mario 64.

Let's do a point by point comparison. I can overlook Banjo-Kazooies super odd name because tacking a "64" at the end of Super Mario isn't much better. I will also disregard the bright yellow shorts on th bear because blue overalls is getting dated. Storyline wise, they're both the same shlocky save the girl fare. Endings are comparable too. But these are the superficial points, where they're pretty much equally cheesy. Let's look at the actual game.

You start in the overworld, so I'll start by comparing them. In SM64, it's basically just a way to get from place to place. Well organized, and easy to find levels. They even have a few secret stars for you to look for about the castle. Now B-K's overworld. On one hand it's much harder to find levels and places to open them up. I've found myself looknig for a level I've been to and not remembering how I got there! On the other hand, the overworld actually has lots of enemies, and MUCH more exploration is necessary. The transition from overworld to level is almost seamless too, making it like one big world. So each overworld has it's pro's and con's.

Now for size. Just going by the numbers, SM64 seems bigger. 120 stars compared to 100 jiggy's, and 15 stages compared to 10 levels. So Mario does have more varied environments, granted. Yet Banjo-Kazooie can be considered much bigger by all the things there are to collect. Jinjo's, mumbo's tokens, music notes, honeycomb pieces, red & gold feathers, eggs, the spell books, not to mention the techniques you have to learn. Compare this with coins, red coins, and a few hats, and clearly finding everything in Banjo is more of a challenge.

Graphically Banjo wins hands down. It came out 1 1/2 years later, so that has to be expected. Sound wise also Banjo is better, but not by much. The twangy tunes that change with your condition and environment are a nice touch,and the SFX are less annoying then Mario's constant "Yah"s and "Woohoo"s.

Control I think Mario has quite an edge. Even though Banjo teach's you the moves in game, they're much less intuitive. It's easy to play around and figure out what does hat in Mario, but without training in B-K, you can forget what to do. Granted B-K does have more moves, but they're still harder to remember the button combo's for. Also, specific control structures like flying and swimming are easier in SM64 (in my humble opinion).

So as you can see, each game has slight pro's and con's over the other, although they're both essentially the same game (the similarities are endless!) I'm not denying that BK is better in many ways, but what gets me is people saying "SM64 isn't good now because B-K beats it in every way!". This is just wrong. Even if B-K were better in everything, Mario would still be just as great as ever. And just wait until SM64 II!

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