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N64 classic Banjo-Kazooie joins Nintendo Switch Online this week

Rare’s jolly 3D platformer returns on January 20

Ever since Nintendo teased that Banjo-Kazooie was coming to Nintendo Switch in January, I have been counting the days for one of those kinda sorta out-of-nowhere “here’s the release date!” tweets. We got exactly that tonight, and the date is set for this Thursday, January 20. Rare’s classic Jiggy-collecting adventure is one of my most anticipated Switch Online additions, at least in terms of the confirmed N64 roster. I mean, the music alone!

I know myself well enough to know that I can’t just peek around Grunty’s Lair and pick up a few Jinjos in Mumbo’s Mountain and call it a day. Nah, I’m gonna need to play Banjo-Kazooie until I find every last collectible trinket and face that quiz show, which is still nerve-wracking to this day. So much of this game holds up. And the best bits — especially the layered hub-based exploration and timeless tunes — are a one-of-a-kind vibe.

Of course, Banjo-Kazooie isn’t getting a direct port that you can go out and buy on the eShop — it’s arriving on Switch by way of the pricey, annual-only Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription service, which seemingly all of us have many thoughts about, more bad than good. For as much mileage as I’m getting out of it with bangers like Paper Mario, the slow release schedule is needlessly grating. And again, that price.

Then again, I don’t need to open that can of worms every time. The famed bird and bear duo is back on a Nintendo platform after way too long. It feels strange. Good, but strange.

I know it’s going to be hard for fans of 4J Studios’ excellent Xbox version to adjust to the less-than-ideal emulation that Nintendo is using for these Switch Online offerings, but I am pumped to revisit one of my all-time favorite games either way. It’s gonna get so cozy.

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