I just wrapped up playing through a brand new Banjo-Kazooie romhack, Worlds Collide by Bynine, and holy moly was it fun to play! The last rom hack I played was Loggo’s Banjo-Dreamie around this time last year and it really set the bar high for what I expected out of a BK romhack. With that in mind, Worlds Collide is easily in the same realm as Dreamie in terms of overall polish and presentation.
Upon booting up a new save file, Banjo and Kazooie find themselves dropped into one of Bottles’ mole tunnels. Our duo have a quick conversation with their burrowing buddy to reveal that while digging, he discovered quite a few new worlds based on Banjo and Kazooie’s previous memories. If the bear and bird are willing to bring back notes from each of those worlds, Bottles promises to uncover more levels while on the way to a Jiggy he smelled!
This conversation with Bottles keeps in tact the kind of back and forth you’d expect Kazooie and the mole to provide and it’s really well written and believable, too. This kind of writing is read every time a character speaks in Worlds Collide and it’s the little things like this that remind me of the personality Banjo-Kazooie boasts over so many other platforms.
In fact, Bynine was obviously no stranger to the Banjo-Kazooie games and it shows through his mod. Each of the nine levels really do feel like you’re playing a mashup of different worlds from the previous games and down to the polygons, the textures and even the music. Upon entering Rich Ruin Cove, the third level of the game, you’re greeted with a musical mashup of Treasure Trove Cove and Mayahem Temple (from Banjo-Tooie.) It shook me hearing the to together, I remember saying out loud, ‘no way, no way!’
Another level that really stood out was Hailfire-Hole. Right when you enter, you know that you’re going to navigate the perimeter of the lava pit while sometimes risking the notes you’ve collected to jump across it. Platforming is your biggest challenge here but f you find yourself approaching an X on molten rock, prepare to dodge the thwack of a lava retextured Grabba — the hand guys found in Gobi’s Valley.
If you survive all of the challenges and make it over to the crumbling, ruined structure found across the gap, you can scoop the last few notes in this level. Our descent down to the base of the foundation, overtaken by lava is one filled with many opportunities to parish. Thanks to some quality camera work when dropping down to new platforms, understanding your environment comes naturally. The coolest part of this, however, is when you have a one way drop down to a note. For a second, I had no idea why a flat pad was located right under a ceiling. Then I pulled the camera back into Banjo’s eyes and realized I was suppose to ride the ceiling, just above the lava, to my new note sweet spot. This was such a clever use of mechanics, I had to point it out.
Without spoiling it, the ending to this mod is one of the most heart felt moments I’ve felt in gaming recently. Getting there, I did have to do a little bit of backtracking to grab some notes I previously missed. Just like Banjo-Dreamie, this mod uses notes in place of Jiggies. Thankfully, obtaining these musical mementos happens at a much faster rate than Dreamie so what little backtracking gave me a chance to go back and explore the rest of the levels to 100% completion.
Bynine called this mod a mini-hack on the Banjo’s Backpack Discord, but I got a solid three hours of gameplay. This also feels like the size of hack speed runners would really enjoy. Aside from a few difficult to reach notes, there isn’t much cheese or fluff in this campaign, just classic Banjo-Kazooie goodness.
I strongly urge you to just download this game and experience all the charm Bynine packed into it! This really is a worth entry in the Banjo-Kazooie romhack compendium. Once again, here’s a link to the World Collide trailer and download link.
Modifying a 20 year old game isn’t something most game designers set their sights on. Yet there are still thriving communities of modders who set out to curate brand new adventures inside of their favorite games using minimalist tools and a lot of experimentation. Bynine, the creator of Worlds Collide and very active member in the BK hacking community was generous enough to conduct a bit of an interview with me about their romhack. Check it out!
Interview with Bynine, September 4th, 2019:
Andy: About when would you say development of Worlds Collide started? What was the moment/feel like when you realized you needed to shift your attention towards developing an entire romhack?
Bynine: I officially started this hack on the 19th of June. Not very long ago I guess, but it feels like forever ago! I was so happy that Banjo & Kazooie were brought into Smash Bros that I felt the need to commemorate the occasion, and so I tried making a small-scale but fully featured hack in honor of them. I originally planned on making it in just a month, but my ambitions grew bigger and so that became no longer feasible. It’s eaten up all of my free time, and I hope that shows, haha.
Your mod is obviously quite inspired by the BK games themselves; you’ve got such a knack for capturing the feel of the older games from the level design to the dialogue! What about those games inspire you the most? Are their any outside sources that you attribute to your love of Banjo-Kazooie?
The original game is very special to me in that when I first experienced it; it showed me the potential of games, I guess I could say. It was mezmerizing because of how intricately crafted and detailed it was, especially for such an old title. Rare went above and beyond in creating immersive environments with features like the dynamic soundtrack, moving water, etc… I also love it because it was the first game my dad, my older sister and I played together. We still reference it to this day, so it definitely left an impact. All of this said, I really wanted to recreate these feelings, and I’m glad you feel that I succeeded there.
Without spoiling your next romhack, were there any major design elements that got left on the cutting room floor when developing World’s Collide? I loved all the mini-segments of Witchy West, from Kazooie’s conversation with blubber about the train to the spring jumping from column to column while shooting up Grublin guarding the tops in the shooting gallery. Any ideas like that get left out?
Indeed! Quite a few world ideas got put on the chopping block. In fact, the original game wasn’t going to feature any combined worlds or elements from Banjo Tooie, but instead be bite sized versions of each BK world. As I progressed the game toward its current state, a lot of those original levels got scrapped, including “Bubblejump Marsh” and “Spiral Shell Cove”.
Another level that never made it off the ground was “Grunty’s Grotto”, which would have been a homage to Grunty’s Lair. It didn’t pan out, but elements were taken from it and put into other levels, like the mine in Witchywest and the cliffside in Hailfire Hole.
Other ideas I had included “Mole Museum” (a museum level dedicated to BK relics which got folded into Mad Moonlit Mystery) and “Logtendo 64” (a version of Nuts & Bolts’ Logbox 720 mixed with Grunty Industries).
Which came first, the exploding gift boxes or the desire to have the polar bear kids crying again?
Hmm… Well, I wanted to have an igloo area, and I was wondering what enemies would make sense to have in such a place, when inspiration struck. The polar bear kids fit in perfectly after that.
Obviously rom hacks still aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but they are becoming more popular and accessible. Do you remember what turned you on to the idea of romhacking old games and do you remember the first few rom hacks you played?
The first ROMhacks I played were definitely Pokemon ones. There’s a ton of room to experiment there, since Pokemon has a lot of possibility space, so it led to a lot of interesting hacks. Banjo Dreamie was the first Banjo hack I played, and it was a magical experience. I never even imagined hacking new levels and music into N64 games, but here it was, and it got me brainstorming on what I could do. I credit Dreamie to inspiring me to try my own BK hack, so thanks, Loggo!
Was there a period where you liked playing games but didn’t ever think you’d make them yourself? What was happening in your gaming life that inspired you to want to make the switch from enthusiast to developer?
Ever since I was a little kid I’d been thinking up ideas for video games. I started with tools like RPG Maker and Game Maker, and eventually started coding my own games, working on the occasional romhack in the meantime. Remember, it’s never too late to start! There are so many tools available for game making now. The limits are your imagination and diligence.
Judging by your online presence, it looks like you’ve been making indie games for awhile! What’s so different about developing a romhack than creating a game in java?
Ah, yes! I’ve made my own fair share of original games and plan to continue to do so. As for the differences…
On one hand, there are a lot of negatives to doing a romhack. It can never really be yours – you’re borrowing other people’s work to deliver a new experience. So you can’t take ownership over it. The legality of it is questionable and delivering it to people can be difficult. That’s not to mention that you’re limited by what the game can do. In Banjo-Kazooie’s case, the engine has some severe limitations, and a lot of the game’s original content has to be used very carefully or it breaks. Adding new content that isn’t just platforming over static terrain is also really challenging.
On the other hand, however, there are clear benefits too. A lot of the work has been done for you – stuff like the physics and character control, enemies, sound effects, and so on. Restrictions created by the engine also breed creativity. Creativity is forced by a limited set of tools, rather than having everything available to you. And there’s also brand recognition to consider. Since people have already played Banjo-Kazooie, they know more what to expect when they hear about a ROMhack of it than they would be by some new unknown game.
In terms of personal growth, what would you say are some of the short, mid and long term advantages (or disadvantages) of someone choosing to make a romhack versus an indie game?
ROMhacks are, in my opinion, a great starting point. They let you get your feet wet in a genre without you having to do all the labor of making an engine or even assets. Once you’ve finished one, you’ve learned practical skills which you can apply to your own games. I made a Pokemon ROMhack before making a monster tamer, and now that I’ve made this hack, and having learned a lot about 3D level design and controls, I’m going to move onto a brand new 3D adventure game. As a long term goal, they’re less satisfying to me, since they’re never truly “yours”. Your mileage may vary on that.
What are some of the tools you used when developing Worlds Collide? (banjo’s backpack, anvil, blender/maya, subdrag’s amazing suite, ect…)
Banjo’s Backpack is the main one, of course. None of this would be possible without it! Besides that, I used SAI Paint Tool and Paint.NET for some custom textures, Anvil Studio for MIDI editing, and Blender for 3D modeling.
Paint.NET is my favorite 2D design program! haha I use it daily, it feels like.
One of the reoccurring comments I read about Banjo-Dreamie was how it used notes instead of jiggies. Your romhack chose the same route. Were you inspired by Dreamie or was this a coincidence?
I chose notes for a few reasons. I wanted the game to have a decent challenge to it, but since the worlds are small, and since Jiggies stay collected even when you die, they’d trivialize the worlds. Jiggies also force Banjo and Kazooie to dance in an unskippable cutscene whenever one is collected, which I feel would be aggravating since in the game’s earlier levels you’re getting a note once every 30 seconds or so, haha. Finally, incorporating Jiggies is definitely more difficult in the long run. It forces you to build the hub world in a certain way linking up with the original game in order to gate progress, and I didn’t like that restrictiveness.
That being said, I believe the note system is less potentially frustrating here than in Dreamie, again because of the smaller world size but also because there’s no backtracking. (No diss meant towards Dreamie btw, I adore it!)
Your romhack just came out so I completely understand wanting to take a break for a little bit! However, do you have any ideas for upcoming projects, BK or indie, that you’d like to share?
I’ll be working on a new (non BK, but maybe similar…) project for sure! Nothing to report yet, but watch me closely, please! As for BK, I doubt I’ll be making another hack on my own, but I’d love to help out people with their own hacks, whether just through advice or by contributing my meager design, modeling & musical chops.
Thank you for your time, Bynine! How would you like people to reach out to you online?
Thanks for having me! I’m available on a variety of platforms, posting art and games.
Is there anything else you wish to add about you mod?
I’d love to see people speedrun BK: WC. I should post my own speedrun actually…
You can find Bynine in all the links below:
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