A few weeks ago on my twitter account (@Saicam_Films) I had a poll regarding a topic I should handle, the vote went to “Top 10 Women in Gaming”, an article I fully intended on doing... until I sat down to write it. To be clear, this was meant to count down characters in games, NOT the women behind the scenes, I know too little about that stuff to give you a proper list. So why did I stop the article? Personally, outside of being busy with other pieces, I just felt a paragraph or so on a single character was not the way to go to honor some great characters. So instead of that, why not go beyond and turn it into a series? Video games have more than enough room to improve on characterization, women need more visibility so I’m gonna praise the ones who’ve stood out, starting with Kazooie.
WHO IS SHE?
A bird in one of the best 3D platformers ever, Kazooie is by no means the most iconic character ever, but she is a memorable one for those who played on the N64. First appearing in Banjo-Kazooie, Kazooie is both a sidekick and a tool for Banjo the bear, essentially they work as a team, much like the Ice Climbers, or Duck Hunt in Super Smash Bros. In the sequel, Banjo-Tooie, Kazooie gets a little more active as she and Banjo can separate, given the player a new play style focused solely on the fast, yet weak defensively, Kazooie. After a couple of GBA games I missed out on (a half-sequel to the original and a racing game) Kazooie would return with Banjo on the 360, redesigned.
WHAT MAKES HER GREAT?
Despite being Banjo’s “weapon” Kazooie is offered plenty of personality, she is rude, snarky and impatient, in many ways an exaggerated mirror of some players. Most people, especially kids, rarely consider their actions in games, we just know that doing certain actions progress the game’s story and care little for the NPCs in our way, Kazooie often voices our annoyance, while Banjo acts out the traditional videogame hero speech. As a kid, I, LOVED seeing Kazooie mock NPCs, sure the writing isn’t great as an adult, but it’s charming and it’s kind of amazing to see a female character be the comedic one of the duo. To this day you’ll see jerks online say incredibly stupid things, one of those things being “women aren’t funny” which is a wrong statement. As a child, Kazooie was proof of that, it’s not common for games, shows, or movies to let the woman be the funny one in a group, so it was pretty special for me when I first played Banjo-Tooie over a decade ago (admittedly, I played the original game much later).
There’s really not much here for Kazooie that’s weak on her part, she’s a well designed character, I love her personality and she’s good to look at if you’re creating your own comedic female for your game/cartoon. That all being said, despite clearly being superior in every regard it is disappointing she pretty much is always the sidekick. While Tooie separated the two, that’s about it, Kazooie, for all her interesting quirks is a sidekick, an extension of Banjo, pretty much a tool. Being a sidekick doesn’t necessarily hurt her, but that she is normally more like an item than a separate being, it becomes easy to see where someone may have an issue hailing her as a great female character, I don’t think it disqualifies her but I understand if you feel that does.
IS SHE GREAT?
Yes, even if she’s not perfect, Kazooie was inspirational for me, there are female characters I’ve written on scripts before that I partially based on Kazooie. Kazooie’s status as a funny character, one that is not sexual is pretty unique in games, which is why I think she deserves your love, Kazooie is a Great Woman in Games.
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Written by Octaviano Macias