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Banjo-Kazooie Stop N’ Swop proven to be possible on real N64 console

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

The Banjo-Kazooie secrets are nothing new. But, this proves that the unreleased feature can be done!

Once in a while, news focuses briefly on the past. Sometimes, you’ll get some legend trying to speedrun a classic for a new world record, or maybe just a new secret is found in some retro video game.

Image: Rare / Microsoft / Skawo
Image: Rare / Microsoft / Skawo

Banjo-Kazooie is a 1998 Nintendo 64 game developed by Rare. It follows the adventures of a bear named Banjo, and Kazooie, his bird companion that rides along in Banjo’s backpack. After the success of Super Mario 64, a lot of games modeled themselves after the 3D adventure platformer.

There was a quirk that original Nintendo 64 hardware could take advantage of called Stop N’ Swop. Stop N’ Swop required a player to very quickly swap over to a different physical game cartridge utilizing the very short-term memory left over in the console when it’s turned off.

If it had been properly implemented in games, it would allow players to unlock extra content hidden in that game. Banjo-Kazooie, and its sequel Banjo-Tooie, were both planned to use this feature.

Rare programmed in the extra content. But, the feature was ultimately scrapped due to fear of damaging the console or cartridges. They also had fears that later hardware would fix the quirk. That did eventually become true as later models only offered one full second of memory still loaded instead of multiple.

Image: Skawo's Zelda Mod for Stop N' Swop
Image: Skawo's Zelda Mod for Stop N' Swop

Modder Skawo realized that, sure, the secrets have all been found. The feature had a version of it in the later Xbox 360 releases. But, it really hadn’t been properly done on the original Nintendo 64 hardware.

In order for it to work, Skawo needed to make a modded The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time cartridge, play it for enough time for the memory to load in, and then swap it with the Banjo-Kazooie cart.

Skawo shows all of the footage in the video, proving that it can be done. The Zelda cart even offers additional details and dialog on how this trick can work.

It’s always great to see little details like this being found and being capable of working. Not only does it help with knowledge and preservation, but we could eventually see speedrunners doing “%any Stop N Swop” runs.

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