Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home is the perfect mod for these trying times

by Martin Watts, 30 July 2020

Banjo on the sky island in the Stay At Home mod

Stay home, save lives. As the world struggles with COVID-19, this simple advice is the best thing many of us can do.

To help make pandemic life a little easier for N64 fans, Kurko Mods has released Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home.

This new mod merges Banjo-Kazooie with other N64 games, including Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64 and Bomberman 64. It’s one hell of a nostalgia trip.

The latest release of the mod (version 1.5) includes five worlds for you to explore as the bear ‘n’ bird duo: Whomp’s Fortress, Bob-omb Battlefield, Jolly Roger Bay, Blue Resort, and DK Isles.

The Blast-O-Matic weapon from Donkey Kong 64.

Kurko plans to release more worlds in future. It’ll be interesting to see what other N64 games make an appearance.

Banjo-Kazooie: Stay at Home works on an original N64 console. You’ll find instructions in this article on how to get it to run on your system.

Banjo and Kazooie at the start of Whomp's Fortress

You may recognise some of Kurko’ previous N64 work. They created the beautiful Legend of Banjo-Kazooie: The Bear Waker and the Banjo-Kazooie X Donkey Kong Country mods.

More recently, they released their epic Zelda crossover mod, The Legend of Banjo-Kazooie: The Jiggies of Time.

All mashed up

Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home is a Banjo-Kazooie game at its core. It plays almost identically to the original game. That said, there are a couple of notable differences.

For starters, there’s a new collectable item. Instead of collecting honey to replenish your health, you now pick up toilet rolls. It’s a not-so-subtle dig at all the stupid people who felt it necessary to panic-buy toilet paper during the current pandemic.

Flying above Jolly Roger Bay in Kurko Mods' Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home mod for N64.

There’s also a variant of the Shrapnel aquatic mine enemy, designed to look a bit like Covid-19. Banjo had best wash his hands after encountering these guys!

Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home’s worlds are taken from other N64 games. While the layout remain very similar, many of the features are different.

For example, Bob-omb Battlefield bears little resemblance to its original incarnation beyond its layout. In fact, the world’s starting point is mostly underwater.

It strikes a great balance between familiar and brand new. That said, all the other levels remain closer to their original look and feel. (And that’s by no means a bad thing.)

Talon Trotting over the rooftops of Blue Resort

This mod is overflowing with Nintendo references for you to discover. It’s a real nostalgia overload, and one that makes exploring every nook and cranny really worthwhile.

A superbly blended soundtrack tops it all off. The classic N64 tunes we all know and love have been “Banjo-Kazooified” and they sound fantastic.

Donkey Kong Junior mini-level in Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home mod.

Precarious platforming

True to the Banjo-Kazooie gameplay format, you traverse these worlds in search of Jiggies, musical notes and honeycombs.

The challenges are bespoke, so don’t expect your knowledge of the original N64 games these levels come from to help here.

Donkey Kong chilling out on a rubber ring in the Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home DK Isles world.

Unlike some previous mods, Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home thankfully doesn’t require you to learn the eponymous duo’s moveset through in-game training.

Unsurprisingly, this mod is aimed at veteran Banjo-Kazooie players.

A Jiggy sits at the end of a pirate ship's bowsprit in Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home

Reaching some objects requires precise platforming. There are time challenges with little margin for error. And you really have to pay attention to your surroundings to find absolutely everything.

Jolly Roger Bay’s extra-deep lake presents a real challenge in terms of underwater air consumption. Musical notes don’t restore your oxygen like coins do in Super Mario 64.

Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home also features 2D platforming sections in the style of classic Super Mario Bros. games.

They work well, and in some instances are devilishly tricky. Getting all the secrets in these areas is no small feat.

Banjo and Kazooie explore level 1-2 of Super Mario Bros.

How can I play Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home on my N64 console?

Go to the mod’s launch trailer on YouTube and click on the download link in the video’s description (currently version 1.5).

You’ll also need to find an NTSC ROM of Banjo-Kazooie. Make sure this ROM is version 1.0.

The mod comes in the form of an xdelta patch. Use Delta Patcher to apply the patch to the ROM. Just follow the program’s straightforward instructions to create a patched ROM in no time at all.

Banjo stood atop a tree in Bob-omb Battlefield.

To play Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home on an N64 console, you need to use a flashcart such as an EverDrive 64. Just put the patched ROM on your EverDrive 64’s SD card and it should work.

I’ve tested the game on real N64 hardware, and it runs well for the most part. There are some minor graphical glitches and the Blue Resort world has some noticeable slowdown in parts. But these issues are relatively minor and shouldn’t impact your overall enjoyment.

The eel from Super Mario 64 is now dead in the Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home mod for N64.

Final thoughts

Banjo-Kazooie: Stay At Home is the perfect bundle of crossover N64 fun for these challenging times. As with all of Kurko Mods, the quality here is really high – I especially love all the delightful little Nintendo references.

Have you played this mod? Let me know what you think on Twitter or Facebook.

Blue Resort from Bomberman 64 in Banjo-Kazooie