""Hey, you know, that Banjo game with the bear and the bird did pretty good on the N64." "
"Hey, you know, that Banjo game with the bear and the bird did pretty good on the N64."
"Yeah, but do you really want to go through the trouble of making a sequel?"
"Actually, I was thinking of a GBA title... maybe a racing game or something?"
"Intersting... Hey do you know what would be funny?"
"'Sex and the City' meets 'Friends'?"
"No, you idiot. What if we made a flying racing game?"
"Sounds good, but will it sell?"
"It will with the Banjo name on it."
And so, Banjo Pilot was born. Does it make any sense with the story of Banjo? Of course not. It's just a tack-on for a few extra bucks. But it deserves a bit more credit than that. The game does offer some unique ideas, even if they never really amount to much in the final product. When things start off, you are shown your game options. You have your standard Grand Prix, Quick Race, and Time Trials, none of which should need any explanation. Then you have a section for trophies, Cheato pages (which you'll later find out is unlockables), and Jiggy's Challenge.
Since Jiggy's Challenge is the only game mode that can't be found in all racing games, you might want to check it out. Basically what it is is a one-on-one race against a computer opponent, but you also have to collect all the puzzle pieces in the level. Since you do three laps, you have three chances to nab all the pieces. Not hard at all, nor is it all that different from normal playing modes. Basically, this game offers nothing in the way of innovative game modes. Therefore, if it wants to stand out at all, it has to be for everything else being really clean.
Unfortunately, this can't be said about the game either. Aside from its ancient-feeling game modes, it also has old graphics. The backgrounds are particularly awful, mainly because they're so blurry and undistinguishable. It's impossible to tell where the level boundary is because the backgrounds are so bad that you often end up way out of bounds and into an invisible wall. Nobody likes to suddenly slow down and drag along on nothing while everyone else passes them.
But the cool thing at least is that they'll be passing them in the air. If Rare deserves any praise for this game it's for taking the risk of putting it in the air. A flying racing game is much better than a driving one in this case, since the GBA already has plenty of great driving games. At least that's one thing that you can say about this game. Unfortunately though, the flying aspect of it doesn't end up changing much. Really, the only reason to fly up and down in a normal race is to get the items or the boosts, both of which are usually at the same height, meaning that you rarely need to move up or down.
Which is a shame because had that been more involved it could have been a very cool feature indeed. Of course it's not that it isn't used at all, just not as much as I would have hoped. One cool way it was used was for a mid-air boss-type battle. You need to flip back-and-forth to dodge the enemy's bullets and rockets while firing your own when the time is right. This is something that definitely couldn't have happened in other GBA racing games. Unfortunately, cool things like this are too buried under the short-comings and errors. One such short-coming is in the items: there's just not enough. The few that there are aren't all that helpful, and it's almost not worth it to dive out of your way to grab them most times.
Another disappointment was in the boosts system. It originally sounded cool: unlock boosts by buying them for each level, some normal launches forward and others longer ones. When you hit one of the big boosts, the computer literally takes over and steers you for a bit while you go faster. This is kind of cool at first, but ends up having little influence on the race, since basically everyone hits this boost. It ends up just being a chunk of the race where you just watch and don't do anything, and that's just boring.
So all in all, this is an underachieving game. It surprised me with the coolness of flying and racing, and the air battle was cool, but it also disappointed me with its graphics especially, plus other things like the item system and the boosts. In the end, it will be the shoddy graphics that you'll remember most about this game, because the few positive aspects aren't enough to make you overlook them.
Community review by iamtheprodigy (August 12, 2007)
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