The Nintendo 64's Banjo-Kazooie is a title that often gets overlooked in favour of the genre dominating Mario 64; but with the benefit of hindsight, Banjo was probably much the better game. Coming at a time when everything Rare could legitimately claim to be the best in the world (from GoldenEye to Perfect Dark to the underrated Blast Corps, literally everything the Twycross studio touched turned to gold), this was one of their finest moments.
The teaser trailer released by Rare is at pains to point out that Banjo 360 will be massively similar to their previous games. If you've missed them up 'til now, the adventures of hick bear Banjo and tempestuous breegull Kazooie takes the same successful non-linear progress structure of Mario 64. Our dopey duo can repeatedly enter a level as many times as they like, with the aim being to solve simple environmental puzzles to collect jigsaw pieces and floaty musical notes in order to unlock doors and progress further into the game world. Quite who the villain will be this time out remains unclear, as, of course, their erstwhile nemesis, wart-packed witch Gruntilda, died at the end of Banjo-Tooie. But then again, when has that ever been a barrier to anything in the world of videogames?
A co-op mode should be at the top of Rare's 'to-improve' list, as technological difficulties saw Banjo-Tooie's mode ripped out in the final stages of development. While the majority of the game's attacks are a collaborative effort, born from Kazooie's preference for living in Banjo's backpack, Banjo-Tooie demonstrated that the mardy featherbag is perfectly capable of strutting around on her own accord, opening up the possibility of an intriguing multiplayer where the specialised skills of the two twerps means that at times you'll be forced to split and go your separate ways to solve puzzles. A decent platformer for Xbox 360 has been a very long time in coming, and although we don't have anything concrete as of yet, if his sticks to the formula that won Banjo's last two outings such acclaim, then Microsoft's $$$$ acquisition of Rare could finally begin to really pay off.
Rare like to take their sweet time over their games, so don't expect to see this nestled alongside Gears of War on shop shelves until well into 2008. Rare's form has been fairly inconsistent since joining the Green Side, but there's enough pedigree here for us to give it a hearty three on the Anticip-O-Meter. Here you go, Kazooie, have a three! ("Bree!"). You're welcome.