I am still not joking here. What? Fine, forget it. Forget you.
Good thing intrepid reporter Stephen Totilo is still out there, singing the praises of the most important little budget-priced game that 2008 forgot. He's still here, at the turn of the new decade, writing about why Banjo finally grabbed him, albeit late in the game, and after nearly dismissing it himself.
The old way you play games — the way I first attempted to play Nuts & Bolts for a few hours — is that you try a level or a mission and, if you fail, you try it again. Maybe you gain experience points, your character levels up and it gets easier. Maybe, more often, you just try it and try it and get better, learn the intricacies of the mission or level, and finally you get it. That's how it normally works. That's how I've approached Mario games. That's how I've approached Banjo games. That's how I've approached racing games.
In Nuts & Bolts, however, in one mission, I kept failing. I couldn't win a race. The other racers passed me every time. I messed up the same turns. And I probably could have overcome all that by trying and trying and trying again. But the lightbulb went on. I went into the Nuts & Bolts garage. I started rebuilding my vehicle. You construct these vehicles as if you're making Lego builds, bolting on cubes and cones, latching one part to the next. I was having trouble making a turn? I'd reshape the fender. A guy was passing me on the sides? I'd add a gun on the side to shoot him away. I was falling behind? I added an extra engine, some extra fuel and then lightened the chassis so I was still swift enough.
I didn't get better at the game. I made myself better at the game — by making something better for myself.
Totilo eloquently sums up what made the game so meaningful to me, too. Heed his words. Savor them. Then play the game.
Hey, now's as good a chance as any to mention that Nuts & Bolts is now on the Games On Demand service for a mere $20 (at least in the U.S.). Now you can enjoy this phenomenal, groundbreaking game without even leaving your house. Is there any way they could make it easier for you?
In case you forgot, here's why I liked Banjo so much at the time.