There are currently four games in the series, with a fifth game under development for the Xbox 360.
The first game in the series, Banjo-Kazooie was released in 1998 for the Nintendo 64. In Spiral Mountain, Banjo's sister Tooty has been kidnapped by the witch Gruntilda who wants Tooty's beauty and is willing to turn her into a hag for it. It is up to Banjo and Kazooie to save her. The goal is to progress through the witch's lair and the various worlds within it, collect items to help Banjo and Kazooie along their quest, and defeat Gruntilda.
At E3 2008, Microsoft announced that it is going to re-release Banjo-Kazooie for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace around the time the upcoming game in the series Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is released.
The second game in the series, but third chronologically, Banjo-Tooie was released in 2000 for the Nintendo 64. It is two years after Banjo and Kazooie defeated Gruntilda. Later she is freed from her subterranean prison by her two sisters with the help of a mighty drill and proceeds to wreak havoc on the Isle O' Hags to restore her body to its former "glory." After killing Bottles, the duo goes out through the mountain side to stop her.
The third game in the series, but second chronologically, Grunty's Revenge was released in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance. It takes place two months after Banjo-Kazooie. While Gruntilda is still trapped under the boulder that fell on top of her, Klungo decides to make a robot for Gruntilda's spirit to dwell inside. During the game, Gruntilda transfers her spirit into the robot and travels back in time to prevent the first meeting of Banjo and Kazooie. In the end, Gruntilda tells Klungo to go try to get her sisters, thereby setting up Banjo-Tooie.
Stop 'N' Swop is a hidden feature in Banjo-Kazooie. Evidence suggests that the feature was never fully implemented due to the Nintendo 64 revisions completed in 1999 that kept the feature from being practical. The feature was widely publicized through a column published by Nintendo Power.
Rare announced that special areas and items in the game could only be reached by completing certain tasks in its sequel, Banjo-Tooie. It was later discovered that Banjo-Kazooie contains seven special items which can be accessed using in-game cheat codes or by using a cheat cartridge. These items would then be viewable in a menu entitled "Stop 'N' Swop".
In the years between the two Banjo titles, Rare representatives were questioned on "Stop 'N' Swop" and how it would be implemented. Ken Lobb was reportedly unwilling to discuss how the connection would be made between the games.
Banjo-Tooie was released in 2000 and offered a way to retrieve the items without the need to acquire Banjo-Kazooie. These items could then be brought to a hen to hatch. In total, there were three eggs, one of which was already with the hen, but which Kazooie had to hatch herself. The ice key, however, was to be used to obtain an item locked in an ice vault. No explanation for "Stop 'N' Swop" was revealed in the game. Nintendo released a statement on the matter expressing that the feature "was not implemented in the game, and although we know there is a code that opens this menu, it does not do anything at all. And as much as I would like to be able to answer your question about why it was not implemented in the game, this is not information that our Consumer Service Department has access to. A reference to Stop 'N' Swop was included in the 2003 video game Grabbed by the Ghoulies. On one of the chalkboards in the schoolroom is a mathematical equation stating: "[egg] + [egg] + [egg] + [egg] + [key] = ?"
In 2004, a patent filed by Rare was published which suggests that Stop 'N' Swop involved swapping cartridges with the power off to transfer data. The information would be momentarily retained by utilizing the Rambus memory in the Nintendo 64. As a result of changes done to the Nintendo 64 systems produced in 1999, the system could no longer do this effectively.
Another Stop 'N' Swop reference appeared in 2005's Banjo-Pilot. After completing most of the game, Cheato will sell something called "STOP N SWAP" for 999 Cheato Pages. The only result of buying is Cheato saying: "So you want to know about Stop N Swop, eh? I hope you're ready. Here goes...Why don't you stop annoying me and swap this game for a nice book or something?"
In a 2007 interview with Retro Gamer, Rare employees told the magazine reporters that they may have to wait until the release of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts for the details of Stop 'N' Swop to be revealed. In March 2008, a new website appeared with an animation of the ice key rotating, the eggs, and the words "the answers are coming. On April 1, however this was revealed to be an April Fool's joke created by The Rare Witch Project.
In 2008 MTV conducted an interview with Salvatore Fileccia, lead software engineer at Rare. Fileccia cited that the abandonment of Stop 'N' Swop was due to revisions made to the Nintendo 64 circuitry. He stated that older versions of the system would have given the player 10 seconds to swap cartridges, while newer iterations of the console reduced this time to one second.
At Microsoft's E3 press conference on July 14 2008, it was announced that Banjo-Kazooie will be made available through the Xbox Live Arcade and feature Stop 'N' Swop connectivity with Nuts & Bolts to unlock new features.