Banjo Kazooie Grunty’s Revenge

There have been some great comedic double acts over the years; Laurel and Hardy, Steptoe and Son, Eric and Ern, Hale and Pace... and in each case the two together have combined their skills to offer something that was considerable more than the sum of their parts. It's the same with Banjo Kazooie, the latest mobile action-adventure game to make the transition from the home consoles to your small portable screen. Except in this case, rather than the conventional straight man and clown or little and large (there's another one!) combo, you're presented with the rather less familiar bear and bird duo.

Cast as Banjo the bear, you’re immediately plunged into a nefarious plot when your feathered friend Kazooie is captured by an evil witch (the Gruntilda of the title) whom, for no particular reason other than to show off, has decided to transport him back into the past. With an town hall full of pensioners awaiting your appearance onstage in Butlins (that's not part of the story, but we think it should be) you must jump, climb and smash your way through a series of 3D levels, collecting various items and performing tasks for the strange inhabitants in order to free your friend. Despite the ludicrous nature of the story and the excessive cutesy-ness of the worlds, the resulting game is incredibly fun to play and, despite its console background, actually suits the mobile screen rather well.

The isometric worlds and friendly characters which pop up to offer advice and story twists are colourful and well animated, and the monsters (bear-eating plants, evil bears and other nasties) are intelligent enough to prevent a problem whilst being relatively easy to remove when you learn attacks like the pack-whack and the fearsome forward roll. The mini-missions you are sent on, albeit mainly of the 'collect the musical notes, jigsaw pieces and elmo-lookalikes' variety, add a welcome sideline to the exploration and ensure you'll rarely have time to be bored. There's plenty of depth on offer, too, with 6 worlds to explore, each boasting fresh challenges and monsters and also new powers with which to handle them.

Just as crucially, the control system has been kept mercifully simple and is limited to 4-way movement so it can all be controlled smoothly by a joypad, with the exception of the attack moves which bring the star key into play. Even if you've never played a platform game before, manoeuvring Banjo about the levels, collecting items, jumping and attacking baddies will rapidly become second nature. The difficulty level is gently pitched, ensuring you never get stuck or lost and with Banjo able to suck up 4 hits from and enemy (each one removing a honeycomb from his life meter) before he slips into permanent hibernation, you have plenty of chances to get past obstacles. The honeycombs can be topped up when you destroy an enemy and, as further honeycombs can be added later in the game to extend Banjo's life, it’s possible to complete most tasks relatively easily. Having said that, you don't really need to panic too much if you do lose a life as a friendly continue system allows you to restart the game from the last point you entered the level.

Granted, this game's not perfect; the lack of a map or mission listing becomes frustrating in later levels when you forget exactly what you're supposed to be delivering to whom. The fact that the monsters often re-appear once you've left the screen is also a little annoying, especially when you've just laboured through a tough section and taken a wrong leap, forcing you to do it all again. The game is also a little too cute for our tastes and we were disappointed at not being able to smash some sense into the talking moles and happy bees that set out to help us. However, whilst some of these irritations might be enough to cause you to turn your phone off once in a while, they won't stop you from coming back time and again to what is a thoroughly absorbing game, one that'll you want to see through ‘til the end.

Banjo Kazooie Grunty’s Revenge

The combination of cute console platformer and modern mobile technology make a great double act