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The game was originally planned to be entitled Diddy Kong Pilot and to be a sequel to Diddy Kong Racing for the Nintendo 64, but due to Rare being bought out by Microsoft Studios, the characters were changed from those of the Nintendo-based Donkey Kong series to those of the Rare-based Banjo-Kazooie series because Rare no longer held the rights to the Donkey Kong characters. As Microsoft did not compete with Nintendo in portable gaming, Rare was free to develop Banjo Pilot for the Game Boy Advance.
Banjo-Pilot features several different game modes. In Grand Prix, players will race opponents through a series of four consecutive tracks, followed by an aerial dogfight with a boss at the conclusion, earning points based on their finishing position in each race. Different Grand Prix types, such as the Endurance GP and Jinjo GP, can be unlocked. Jiggy Challenge places six Jiggies on each track, and players must attempt to collect all six while still finishing the race before their opponent. Quick Race allows players to immediately choose any of the game's sixteen tracks to race on, and Time Trial challenges players to finish a course in the fastest time possible.
The game also features two multiplayer-exclusive modes for up to four players: Head-to-Head, a multiplayer version of Quick Race, and Dogfight, a battle game in which players attack their opponents with weapons and attempt to remain the last one standing.
Competing in races will earn players Cheato Pages based on their race placement; collecting up to four Musical Notes on each track will multiply the number of pages earned. These pages can be traded to Cheato in exchange for various unlockables, such as more playable characters, new Battle Tracks, and additional mode variations.
The game features a total of nine playable characters. Banjo, Kazooie, Mumbo Jumbo and Jinjo are playable from the start, while Humba Wumba, Gruntilda, Klungo, Jolly Roger, and Bottles can be purchased from Cheato.
The game was originally developed as Diddy Kong Pilot, a sequel to Diddy Kong Racing, and featured various playable characters from the Donkey Kong Country series, including Diddy Kong, Donkey Kong, and King K. Rool. However, following the purchase of Rare by Microsoft, the game was retooled to feature characters and locations from the Banjo-Kazooie series.
The music of Banjo-Pilot was composed by Robin Beanland and Jamie Hughes. According to Rare, as the game title was first Diddy Kong Pilot, the game's music tracks are based on Donkey Kong Country's soundtrack.
Banjo-Pilot received mixed reviews. IGN gave it an 8 out of 10, praising it as the second-best GBA racer. It received three out of five stars from GameSpy, who said it "wasn't worth the near half-decade wait." Generally, those who praised the game did so for its addictive multiplayer mode and large replay value, while those who criticized it did so for its simplicity in design and loose physics. GameSpot awarded the game a score of 7.2 out of 10.
- "February 2005 Release Dates". PAL Gaming Network. Archived from the original on 21 February 2005.
- "Updated Australian Release List - 14/02/05". PAL Gaming Network. Archived from the original on 17 February 2014.
- "Banjo-Pilot". GameRankings. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
- IGN: Banjo Pilot Review
- GameSpy: Banjo Pilot Review
- Banjo-Pilot Game Boy Advance Review - GameSpot.com