Pros: Deeply challenging gameplay that requires you to really think to progress
Cons: not much
I've reviewed probably hundreds of games on epinions but my all-time favorite is Banjo Tooie. I remember the Gamespot review of the game spoke of the cloying subconscious effect the game has on the mind and honestly, I believe it. To fully get through this game can take forty hours or more, requires some critical thinking and a lot of luck. The original Banjo Kazooie was a fantastic game. I remember a VHS narrated by Joh Lovitz was sent to the house hyping it up but I just thought "eh". I mean it looked like it was for little kids and hey, I was too old for that then. When I played it I found it was harder than 90% of games and the bear and bird visage just covered up a world with brilliant music, challenging gameplay and an addicting sense of skill.
The plot in the original was that Banjo, a bear, had his sister Tooty kidnapped by the evil Gruntilda, who is a combination of the witch from the wizard of Oz and the witch from HR Puf N Stuf. The plot in Banjo-Tooie is that bottles the mole (An important incendiary character) has been MURDERED and you must avenge his death before the undead topless Gruntilda rises to power again.
The game plays amazing. You progress on the overworld by traveling as Banjo the bear (Kazooie the bird in backpack) and unlock abilities like shooting explosive eggs and shooting a torpedo while flying. Every stage you enter has jigsaw pieces that allow you to enter new stages. While Kazooie was more focused on collecting, Tooie's focused on exploring and the only items you really collect are Jigsaw pieces, big bundles of notes, jinjos and any ammo you need. In the last game there were manditory notes scattered everywhere, here they take the backseat as the game is more about finding the one thing you need to progress, it often being in other stages. You need to travel between stages, often in creative ways, such as a train that travels through all the stages. One of the hardest and most mysterious levels is Grunty Industries. Just getting in takes a while because the way the game is set up has you thinking until you say "Oh!" you need to hit a train switch and then enter by train. There is no other way in until you do that. To get the jigsaws, you often compete in a lot of mini games hidden through the game, collect jinjos (Little fraggle rock inspired critters) and sometimes just grab them. The minigames are far more creative than in the last game, including stuff like bumper cars, but there is a lot of creative platforming, and the critical thinking you use to solve the puzzles makes it all the more rewarding, especially when some of the puzzles have you pushing an ice cube from a sky level into a lava level to cool some hot water. Fighting enemies is fun, they have a lot of animations and there are some absolutely fantastic boss fights such as a big balloon animal in a desolate big top and a coal man you must literally rend into chunks.
The backbone of these games is the music. The characters are named after musical instruments and it's only fitting that the music is brilliant in both of these games. It's the first thing I noticed and it's had the most staying power since playing. While Tooie's audio is not as good as Kazooie's on a whole, it has the amazing Grunty Industries music and the best song in both games, Atlantis, an airy piano and synth melody that is way more complex than it sounds. Grant Kirkhope who does the sound on both games is a brilliant composer and he yanks from classical and rock music but turns it into something saccharine and whimsical, it's really brilliant. The graphics are also great, being vibrant and colorful, but it is a 64 game, and truthfully the last game looked slightly better, if only because the levels were 1/10th the size. Speaking of the levels, the game picked the best ideas you can. A factory stage with several levels, an abandoned carnival where everything wants to kill you, a dinosaur stage (Which is actually the hardest and I think where 90% of quitters quit) a dual lava/ice mountain and a water stage that lets you not only breathe indefinitely underwater but become a submarine to battle Lord Woo Fak Fak by breaking open the appropriately named Davy Jones' locker (Literally, it's a locker labeled Davie Jones)
What makes this game amazing is the dense labyrinthian construction of what on the surface appears to be a kids' game. It's one of the biggest challenges to finish in all of gaming and it has led to a lot of fans of the original game to dismiss it, but if you can get over the rigors it puts the player through it has so much to offer it's amazing. I don't much like some of the parts of the cloud stage but I forgive it because on a whole this game is way more fun than it should be and it continues to have the depth of ten games put together. So much went into making this game huge and yet it gets overlooked because it's incredibly hard to scratch the surface. My favorite game, and a weird choice considering some might fathom calling it a kids' game.