Banjo-Pilot is a 2005 kart racing video game for the Game Boy Advance (GBA) and the fourth installment in Rare's Banjo-Kazooie series. It plays similarly to the Mario Kart series by Nintendo: the player races one of nine playable characters around tracks, attacking other racers with bullets and collecting power-ups. The game features a number of single-player and multiplayer modes, such as time attack and item hunts. Unlike other kart racing games, characters control airplanes instead of go-karts. Rare and Nintendo announced Banjo-Pilot at E3 2001 under the title Diddy Kong Pilot. At this point, it was the sequel to Rare's Diddy Kong Racing, and featured characters from Nintendo's Donkey Kong and Mario series.
Company politics and Nintendo's concerns about quality delayed Diddy Kong Pilot past its planned release date in March 2002. After Microsoft acquired Rare in September 2002, it lost the rights to the Nintendo characters and retooled it featuring characters from its Banjo series. THQ, which made a deal with Microsoft to publish Rare's GBA projects, released Banjo-Pilot in January 2005 to mixed reviews. Although critics praised its detailed visuals, they believed it lacked originality and called it inferior to Mario Kart.
Banjo-Pilot is a kart racing game featuring characters and environments from the Banjo-Kazooie series of platform games. It plays similarly to the Mario Kart series by Nintendo: the player, controlling a character in their vehicle, must race opponents around tracks. The player views the gameplay from behind the character's back, and must manoeuvre their character throughout the race. All races are three laps long and feature elements that confer advantages, such as offensive power-ups. Collectible, golden music notes, an element from the Banjo platformers, are scattered around tracks as well. Banjo-Pilot is distinguished from other kart racing games because the player controls airplanes instead of go-karts, allowing them to move up and down. However, the planes do exhibit behaviours normally associated with karts, such as slowing down over rough ground. The planes are equipped with bullets that can be shot at other players; they can also do a barrel roll to avoid attacks from others. The game features a total of nine player characters; Banjo, Kazooie, Mumbo Jumbo, and a purple Jinjo are initially available, while Humba Wumba, Gruntilda, Klungo, Bottles, and Jolly Roger can be unlocked through gameplay.
The game features 16 tracks accessible through four different game modes for a single-player. In Grand Prix, players race opponents through a series of four consecutive tracks and earn points based on their finishing position. At the end of Grand Prix, players must participate in a Champion Challenge—an aerial dogfight against a boss. Jiggy Challenge retains the emphasis on collecting items from the Banjo platformers: the player must look for and collect puzzle pieces called Jiggies for points while racing Bottles the mole. Quickrace allows the player to choose from any of the game's tracks to race on, while time trial challenges players to finish a course in the fastest time possible. The game also features multiplayer modes for up to four players: a multiplayer version of Grand Prix, a one-on-one race, and a dogfighting game. Competing in races will earn players "Cheato pages", loose book pages which serve as a form of currency. How many they earn is based on their race placement and how many musical notes they collect. These pages can be given to the anthropomorphic book Cheato in exchange for various bonuses, such as new game modes and characters.
- January 12, 2005 (North America)
- February 1, 2005 (Europe)
Sound Effects Used
- Sound Ideas, HIT, CARTOON - HEAVY RISING HIT
- Sound Ideas, HUMAN, LAUGH - LITTLE GIGGLE, CARTOON, LAUGHTER 02 (Sampled in the Early Title Theme) (high-pitched)
- Sound Ideas, WOLF - LONG HOWL, ANIMAL 01