'Pick up you Magic wrench and start building'.
Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is the next instalment in the Banjo series, a 360 exclusive that has changed the core gameplay of the Banjo series from platforming, to vehicle based gameplay. Is this reimagining of a platforming classic a good thing? Or should it have stayed a timeless classic? Here is my review.
The story of Banjo is simply this: Banjo and Kazooie have been loafing around binge eating pizzas since their last console outing Banjo Tooie in 2000, with Gruntilda out of the picture they had nothing to do...until now. Gruntilda is still alive albeit a disembodied head but none the less, she confronts the dynamic duo in an attempt at some smack talk and a feeble plot of revenge. Just as Banjo and Gruntilda are about to fight, the world is then paused by the Lord of Games who offers them an alternative; to compete against each other by having Banjo and Kazooie complete a variety of tasks, in each of his Game Worlds and have Gruntilda try and stop them and whoever fails has to work in L.O.G’s video game factory forever. The story in general is non-existant, it has a beginning and an end but not really a middle but because the way the game is designed it would be a little weird to have a proper story, sure a little exposition would be nice but the main references to the story are in the Game Worlds that are hosted by all of Banjo’s secondary characters playing secondary roles such as ‘Mr Fit the Other Farmhand’ and ‘Humba Wumba as the Girl Gamer’. Sure there are references to past games and characters but mainly when you are speaking to the secondary characters it’s all about their personality and humour (that has a little of tint of British comedy to it) that keeps this universe from getting stale, it's just too bad that there is no voice work here so you best get your reading glasses on and hope you can read moderately fast.
The gameplay of Nuts and Bolts is comprised of building vehicles, using parts that you collect around Showdown Town or unlock by progressing further in the story but you don’t have to rely on vehicle archetypes like in most building related games, if it can stand upright in any way and move in any direction it can be built. This is where Nuts and Bolts greatest strength lies, the shear fact that you can build anything no matter how stupid or clever as long as it completes the given task. For example, one of the mission early on requires you to lift an antenna up high in the sky so Klungo can get the Logbox 720 online, now you can carry that antenna and drive that thing using the runways that eventually lead to a high spot or you can do what I did and slap a big tray on the back of a helicopter and simply fly up to a high point, it’s just that simple and thanks to a replay past missions feature, there is added replay value for beating your time, to collect time trial trophies and any Jiggies you missed by thinking of some kind of silly but effective contraption to make it easier. Although this is Nut and Bolt’s greatest strength it does have a weak point. The missions can be derivative if you build an all purpose vehicle and use it for most missions, it simply becomes tiresome. The gameplay is properly enjoyed when you think about the task ahead and let you imagination go wild. The game also supports a multiplayer feature which is fun if you want to show off your vehicles and compete in challenges similar to the single player but it not exactly something that'll keep your attention after you've completed the single player.
Nuts and Bolts graphical design utilises the same art style as Rare’s 2006 hit, Viva Piñata, each of the Game Worlds that you’ll encounter is appropriately coloured and designed. A favourite of mine is the first Game World you visit which is named Nutty Acres, sporting lush green fields and a volcano, it's awesome to see that everything is designed to look manmade, so grazing cows have wind up keys in their backs, trees have patches of green metal on them and clouds in the sky are 2D and operated by gears, it simply looks wonderful and wacky in each of the Game Worlds. Just basically imagine Banjo characters in Viva Piñata’s art style and you can pretty much get the idea.
Apart from the lack of story that is told through walls of text and the fact the game will be derivative if you use one/two vehicles for every mission, there aren’t that many other problems I found. Really the only other problems could come from how you perceive the game. If you wanted a platforming game like previous Banjo games then you will find little of that here and also maybe you don’t like to build vehicles (although it is ridiculously fun here).
Banjo is a very strange game not just because of the weird characters and the world they inhabit but because it does something different in an unbelievable way, I mean the fact you can build ANYTHING (that's right ANYTHING) without relying on vehicle templates but only on the physics is a huge technical achievement and undoubtedly fun. Really the game will be enjoyed less if you don’t take to the vehicle building or use your imagination and think beforehand but if you are looking for a game that is a breath of fresh air and a ton of fun then pick up your magic wrench and start building.