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What to know about the Banjo-Kazooie versus marathon

April 24, 2010

Here’s everything you need to know about this next marathon!  More details will be coming soon, but this should be more than enough to get started, right?

Q: What is this?
A: This is the second official versus marathon held by gamemarathons.com. This one, as the title suggests, features the Banjo-Kazooie games. Each team will have 48 hours to complete as many achievements within the games as possible, and whoever has the most points at the end wins. Beyond that, each team will be interacting directly with any of our viewers interested enough to watch through a live chatroom. We’ll also be collecting donations to be sent directly to a great charity.

Q: When does this take place?
A: This event will start on May 14 at 6PM (US Eastern time), and end 48 hours later.

Q: What games will you be playing?
A: We expect to play the following games:
Banjo-Kazooie (N64/X360)
Banjo-Tooie (N64/X360)
Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge (GBA)
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts (X360)
Banjo-Pilot (GBA)
Diddy Kong Racing (N64)
Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing (X360)
The way points are assigned, teams are only required to play 2 of the 3 kart racers, so the teams may not necessarily play all of them – see further in this FAQ for an explanation. For those keeping track, Diddy Kong Racing was rereleased on the DS, and Sega All-Stars Racing is also out for the Wii, DS, and Playstation 3, but these other versions don’t have Banjo in them.

Q: Why aren’t you playing (insert other Banjo-Kazooie game here)?
A: What other games are there? Aside from a cellphone remake of Grunty’s Revenge, this is literally every game he’s made a playable appearance in.

Q: Is that the order you plan to play them in too?
A: Each team is free to run their games the way they want to, including going back to a game if needed. So it could be, but it probably won’t.

Q: What’s the difference between the N64 versions of these games and their Xbox 360 counterparts?
A: Stop ‘n Swop. This was an unfinished feature in the original version that essentially allowed the player to carry over some of their progress into another game, including various colored eggs and an ice key. While the original Banjo-Tooie came up with an alternate version of the idea, the Xbox 360 games do it the way the developers originally intended. Also, Banjo-Kazooie’s musical notes no longer have to be collected on the same life in the newer version.

Q: Do you have to play Diddy Kong Racing and Sega All-Stars Racing as Banjo?
A: As a Banjo-Kazooie character. Tiptup also appeared in some of the main Banjo-Kazooie game series, so he’s also eligible for DKR.

Q: Will this marathon have online play?
A: Most likely. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts and Sonic and Sega-All Stars Racing have achievements specifically for versus mode, so we’ll be playing against our viewers for some of them. Each team will probably be playing these on their own schedule, so ask them directly for their gamertags or when to expect to play.

Q: Who are the teams?
A: Three teams have signed up for this marathon:

Ocean City Trinity is the defending champions, having won January’s Star Fox versus marathon. They’re from the New Jersey shore area and tend to run shorter but more frequent marathons focusing on a single game series. Their team captain, Tom, is on staff at gamemarathons.com, where he writes several articles and acts as a marathon adviser.

Gamin For Charity is a newer team, hailing from eastern Michigan. They usually run longer marathons (72+ hours) that simply include many fan favorite games.

Triple Speed Runners is another team that’s part of the gamemarathons.com network, and their leader Matt runs this site’s Twitter feed. Most of their marathons see them playing three unrelated games at the same time. They’re based somewhere in northern Ohio.

Q: Are you guys really good at these games?
A: That depends who you ask. Each team has people that have played these games several times before and others that have just learned them for this marathon. They also range from people who can consistently pull off everything and people who will struggle to finish certain segments, and some that refuse strategy guides while others refuse to play without them. So a good answer to your question is “Sorta, but not really.”

Q: So if I think I’m better, and know something you don’t, am I allowed to say it?
A: Of course! Audience participation like that is welcome and encouraged.

Q: Are cutscenes included?
A: Yes. The rule we agreed on is that we will show cutscenes the first time we encounter them, but if for some reason they’re shown a second time, then we’ll skip them. Speeding up scrolling text, on the other hand, is allowed (so long as it’s still readable).

Q: Does that mean there will be spoilers?
A: Most likely, but you probably shouldn’t worry about it. The continuity level’s pretty good, especially compared to other platforming games, but there’s nothing too crazy or unexpected going on storyline wise.

Q: What’s an achievement?
A: It’s an award given out for meeting some accomplishment, which gives out some kind of point value. You know, like the ones they use on Xbox 360 games.

Q: Where did you get these achievements from?
A: Partially from in-game lists, and partially out of things we think a good player should be able to do.

Q: But some of these games are on Xbox 360! Why not just use the official list?
A: Downloadable games are scaled differently than disc-based games. In particular, downloadables (like Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie) have 12 achievements worth a total of 200 points, whereas disc-based games give out 1000 points (with a variable number of achievements). In order to weight each game equally, we came up with our own list for the downloadable games. That said, Nuts and Bolts is using the official list verbatim, and Sega All-Stars Racing uses pieces of the official list.

Q: Why aren’t the kart racing games weighted equally, then?
A: To put it simply, it’s not what Banjo’s known for. It’s also very unlikely that we’d be playing these games anywhere near as long as the other games. For the purposes of achievements, all three kart racers count as one game worth 1000 points (which, in turn, means that it’s possible to score the maximum value without playing all three games).

Q: How are you keeping track of the achievements?
A: It’s up to each team to recognize that each achievement was actually met. They’ll be keeping running totals that should viewable directly in the video stream, as well as mentioning that one was completed directly in the chat, and probably also include some other way to keep track and keep everyone informed that hasn’t been decided as of this writing.

Q: You actually expect to accomplish all this stuff on your list?
A: Honestly, it’s unlikely, but we don’t think it’s impossible. It also allows each team to spend more emphasis on whichever games they want.

Q: What charity are you representing?
A: The World Food Programme. They’re run by the United Nations and provide food and hunger relief to the world, especially in developing countries and places that have experienced natural disasters recently. Visit them online at www.wfp.org.

Q: Why did you pick this charity?
A: We raised money for them for the last versus marathon and think the cause they stand for is even more relevant and necessary now, especially given the recent natural disasters in Haiti and Chile (among others).

Q: How do I donate to them?
A: See the Donate category here? Just click the link there and you’ll be able to enter your information. You can donate using a credit card or a Paypal account. Rest assured, your donation is safe and going directly to World Food Programme – we see none of the money sent.

Q: What’s Chipin?
A: It’s a widget that quickly processes a Paypal-based transaction directly to someone – in this case, World Food Programme – and keeps a running total of how much has been raised in the process. If this sounds cool to you, check out their website at www.chipin.com.

Q: Is my donation tax deductible?
A: Yes.

Q: Why should I donate?
A: Beyond it simply being a good cause? It’s a good way to show that you appreciate these events, in turn meaning you’ll get to see things like this more often. Plus, maybe with enough donations, maybe we’ll do other random stuff on camera for you all.

Q: Who are you?
A: Collectively, we call ourselves the Ocean City Trinity. See the About Us section for details on us and our players.

Q: Which members are playing in this marathon?
A: The expected roster consists of Tom, Sarah, Dan, and a new member, Jeremy (and probably another person or two that hasn’t officially signed on as of this writing). Other members may show up either in person or in the chat at some point, though.

Q: Where are you based out of?
A: The team identifies as out of Ocean City, NJ (which is about 10 miles away from Atlantic City), though only about half of our team actually lives there – the rest are elsewhere in the state. The marathon itself is broadcast out of Tom’s apartment in Toms River, NJ.

Q: What else have you done in terms of video game marathons?
A: Quite a bit, actually. We’ve done six marathons before this – four in a more traditional style (Sonic, Mario, Devil May Cry, and Mega Man), one versus marathon like this one (Star Fox), and one in an experimental segmented format (Suikoden). See the Archives section for some tidbits on what happened there.

Q: What software and equipment are you using for your marathon?
A: We use Webcammax to get all the video. This is split into three separate windows – the game cam as taken from a Dazzle DVD Recorder, the player cam as taken from a Panasonic MiniDV camcorder, and an info cam that’s actually just a text file. The audio is from a USB microphone – specifically, the one that came with Rock Band 2 – placed in the middle of the room.

Q: Will we see more from you in the future?
A: That mostly depends on whether or not there’s still interest from both us and our audience, but most likely the answer is yes.

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