Review By: Brittany Vincent
|# Of Players:||1-4|
|Accessories:||Xbox Live (online play)|
For a long time, gamers mourned the apparent death of the Banjo-Kazooie series. Then, one shining day, Rare announced a return to the franchise with Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. Fans of the series rejoiced in collective glee - more of the Banjo we knew and loved! Except, this wasn't the Banjo we knew and loved. No, Nuts and Bolts has taken a completely different approach, now that platformers seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur, at least in the mainstream gaming scene. What has emerged is a workable, enjoyable adventure, as long as you're not expecting a game anywhere near reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie's past.
Nuts and Bolts brings us back with Banjo and Kazooie, who have truly let themselves go over the years. Now chubby and out of shape, they spend their time fighting with Gruntilda and lazing around the game world. That is, until the Lord of Games, or LOG shows up. As the purported whiz of all things gaming, he seeks to put an end to this lollygagging. He proposes one final showdown to liven things up. He proposes a race to collect Jiggies to kick things off, which both parties immediately fail due to their lengthy hiatus from the game world. Instead, a new way of gaming is introduced, and this means creating and building different vehicles to tackle challenges.
Banjo and Kazooie are deposited in a main gate world (much like the previous games) named Showdown Town. Pathways to other worlds are opened where jiggies, musical notes, and challenges are up for the taking. The focus is still very much on collecting, and there are a ton of items to collect - over 1900 notes are available, 100 jiggies, and tons of vehicle parts to stock up on to create the best ride around. The worlds that are presented are expansive and fantastic; this is by far the biggest and most open-ended Banjo game yet.
Since there is so much to do, this game is far less stressful than any of the previous installments. Borrowing heavily from the GTA philosophy of "skip around, then come back for the important stuff later," you can go about completing different challenges in any order. There really is so much to do that you might get lost simply playing around without worrying about the main task at hand!
When it comes down to progressing in the game, you'll want to get familiarized with building vehicles. This is done in a manner similar to what we've seen in many LEGO titles before. Using a host of different pieces, vehicles appropriate for different challenges can be built. Simply by altering one part such as an engine or a spring, you can create a super-fast cruiser or one that can even jump. You are never limited to what is offered by the game's schematics. If you have the parts available, you can build whatever vehicle your heart desires, and that is where the game truly shines. It's a blessing for those artsy, creative types who love to play with LEGOs, or paint and draw to create fantastical things. However, if you're not one of those types of people, you may find that the sheer amount of creations waiting to be made is an annoyance.
The actual types of quests to complete vary, but the glut are actually racing and fetch quests. You'll get the occasional switch-up like dominoes, or even sumo wrestling. The key to these different matches are how well and how efficiently you've designed a vehicle. It's all in how much work you want to put into creating specific rides. For instance, if you want to do well in a game of knocking over the most dominoes, you'll have to focus on making a vehicle that's lightweight enough to maneuver properly, but heavy enough to wreck a host of dominoes. This calls for light puzzle-solving and the patience to work a few of these situations out. If that isn't your kind of gameplay, then Nuts and Bolts may leave a sour taste in your mouth.
Posted: 2009-04-10 13:14:44 PST