Game: Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
Game Studio: Rare
System: Xbox 360 Exclusive
ESRB Rating E10+
Online Multiplayer: Yes
Achievement Difficulty: Easy – Mild
iGamer Rating: 8.4/10
What comes to your mind when you think of a bear and and bird in a backpack? Not Mario or Luigi, unless your a crazed fanboy. But if you played the old Banjo Kazooie games, you would think of, well, Banjo Kazooie.
Recently, I have gone to the local Blockbuster numerous times. Last time I picked up (the horrible, in my opinion) Midnight Club Los Angeles. I had cheated myself once again, because every time I went there, I had promised myself that I would rent Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. And I didn’t. Until now.
From the time I downloaded the demo off Xbox Live, I knew that it was special. I fell in love with the in depth vehicle creator, and the HD cartoon visuals. I had played Rares previous titles, like Grabbed by the Ghoulies, and Viva Pinata, both of which were underated masterpieces. So that what was the motivation to keep me playing, and I was rewarded.
Banjo Kazooie was a series of classic platforming games for the N64 and some other Nintendo console that I cant remember at the moment. But this is different from its predecessors. The new Banjo Kazooie actually makes fun of its ancestors and their platforming methods.
The reason why is that BKNB is a vehicle centered game. Running around on foot will get you nowhere fast. Instead, in one of the many game globe worlds, you can use vehicles that YOU created. From the ground up or just modifiying an exisitng vehicle blueprint, its only limited by your imagination. I happened to make a vehicle that was a jet car, boat, airplane, hovercraft, submarine, and rocket ship, all in one vehicle. This kind of scheming isn’t required, but there are some game mechanics centered around this area. For instance, a challange asks you to lift a physics enabled (this game has a very robust physics system) object a certain distance above the ground. If you don’t have a blueprint for this type of vehicle, you must make one. And there are more than one way to accomplish this, just like everything in BKNB. An example is when I had to take part in a hurdle race. I didn’t have any vehicles with springs on the bottom to jump over (everyone else used this kind of vehicle), and that made me realize a loop hole. The checkpoints you must pass through are located a few feet above the hurdles, usually to accomadate the ensuing jump. But I decided “screw that” and brought a plane in to fly over all the hurldles and through every checkpoint. Just as my fuel gauge reached empty, I passed the finish line. Minutes before anyone else I might add. This is an example of the open ended mission structure that permeates throughout this game. Its a very cool idea.
The story in Banjo Kazooie isn’t that important, unless your a hardcore fan. LOG, the lord of games (parodies the mechanics and cliches of various games) finds Banjo and Kazooie up near their home. There hahs not been much of a demand for video game heros lately (darn master chief), so the duo have gotten fat and lazy, eating pizza and playing video games all day. They see Grunty, their old nemesis who seems to have lost her head. LOG, disgusted with such incompetance, designs a competition, stating that their current state is in no shape for a full fledged retail game. The rest, is how you play it.
The physics in BKNB are important. Important is an understatment. Their importance out lusters every star in the sky, and the sun. Basically, the game is built on the stuff. If you thought Half Life 2 was the physic heaviest game, think again. You will use them to take items around the hub world, showdown town. You will use them to fly, swim, jump, boat, and drive. You will use them in every challenge. But that doesn’t mean they work that well.
No, in fact sometimes the physics can be quite the hassle. Not that they are whack, no they are realistic alright. Thats where the problem lies. It’s frusturating when you get a physics object halfway across the map in a race, only for it to slip from your grasp, and then having to start over. Much frusturation outside of challenges is narrowly avoided by having Kazooies wrench be able to pick up any physics enabled object. It can be done by getting near an object, waiting till it’s gold highlighted, then pressing the right trigger. This works well, in most cases. However, when trying to load up an item from town into the cart you are given, objects only want to get snapped into the middle by an automatic placement system. Basically everything gets put into the same spot on the cart and the system will not be swayed. This is especially annoying when I tried to put a jiggy (gold puzzle piece) onto the cart with a game globe (sphererical sphere). The jiggy only wanted to go ontop of the game globes exact location. This led to it sliding of the game globe and out of the cart. This is nearly topped only by the fact that when you try to bring a jiggy into town, the cops (oddly enough, are mostly pigs) think its smuggling. Its one of the focuses of the game, so you will be doing it a lot. Therefore, on top of the already wonky cart physics, the cops will ram into your vehicle, sending poor Mr. Jiggy and co. what seems like eons away. But satisfiyingly enough, if you destroy a cop car, you get an achievment appropriately named “Fuzz Off!”.
Physics aside, one of the great things Xbox 360 owners get to enjoy with Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, is just the pure beauty of the game. The rating and art style suggest a young target audience, but I can’t see anyone younger than 10 getting through even a third of the availible challenges. Anway, it has a very stylized, Viva Pinata esque, HD cartoon look. Its kind of hard to describe. If you have played Viva Pinata, then you would know, just thinker a way larger scale.
Besides looking like that underrated classic, Banjo Kazooie NB offers very stylized, sometimes downright incredible, creative level design. The levels are huge. And the amount of detail in each is enough by itself to justify there only being six of them. One of the most creative ones, is called the LOGbox 720. That right there shows how creative it is. It parodies both the 360 and Rare’s other creations by having spinning Viva Pinata and Banjo Kazooie game discs inside. Others, such as Nutty Acres, are huge open worlds where you can really put your inventions to the test. It just boggles the mind how Rare managed to spread all this detail into these huge worlds.
The reason which makes this game so accessible is most likely its down to earth vehicle creation system. To create vehicles, you go to Mumbo’s motors. To get vehicle parts, one way is to find hidden vehicle crates all over Showdown Town. The parts range from jet engines to just plain absurd things, like a freezer or an egg gun. Speaking of guns, if you wanna use that “open ended mission structure” in a race against hapless, weaponless, racers, then go ahead. It actually worked pretty well, I beat the first Grunty boss battle in 12 seconds that way.
The online play in Nuts and Bolts, from what I hear, is okay. I didn’t get a chance to try it because my Xbox Live connection wasn’t working straight through my rental period (lucky me). Apparantly, you can race with vehicles you make, invite friends to test vehicles with you, and send vehicle blueprints to said friends. This is as robust as many gamers may have hoped. Racing online can be fun, but the physics problems that are present even in single player races, are even more so online. Its pretty shallow, even if I did have my live then, I would stick to single player.
A problem people have been experiancing with this game is that the text is unreadably small on standard definition tvs. Luckily, I just narowly avoided this, having just got a 720p capable HDTV. But Rare does not plan on releasing a patch, so all the SDTVs are kinda screwed on this one. But I don’t watch the cutscenes anyway.
Overall, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is a fun game, that looks like a kiddie game, but its not, and it has lots of depth and creative options. Yeah all that. Also, the replay value is very high, but maybe not from the very beggining. You can try a challenge a different way the second time around.
- Beautiful look
- Large levels
- Many creative options
- High replay value
- Shallow multiplayer
- Physics are wonky at times
- Cops get very annoying, very fast
- Still no voice acting! Maybe its tradition, but in this day and age!
Reviewers commentary: iGamer doesn’t usually write its own reviews, it just gives links to the usual IGN or GameSpot ones. So to make up for it, I make these reviews very long. That combined with the fact that we are usually penniless to get new games. That would also account for the fact that my reviews are of games that came out awhile ago. But anyway, assuming I get around to it, I may to a review on Skate 2. But I’d rather not think about it right now. So good night, I’m going to sleep, its almost 1 AM and a school day tomorrow.
– Rock out, Chris