The Peanut Gallery Reviews 'Banjo: Nuts & Bolts'
Way back in the deep dark ages of the N64, there existed a little platforming mascot named Banjo. He, like most other anthropomorphic icons of the time (not to mention a pudgy plumber), was obsessed with the collection of useless objects in some half baked attempt at saving the world or some such nonsense. 10 years have passed since this mighty bear vanquished his archrival and forever saved the day….or so he thought.
Yes, it seems Gruntilda has returned – as per standard platformer logic thanks to Bowser inexplicably surviving everything from lava pits to 30,000 foot plummets – but this is precisely where all comparisons to other platformers ends. In fact, ‘Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts’ goes out of its way throughout the game to mock the gaming genre it was once a proud member of, instead embracing that new pesky buzz term of the current console generation: “User-generated Content”, or UGC in medical circles.
UGC used to be a horrid disease that was isolated to the PC Gamer community. It is categorized by a gamer’s tendency to break the very foundation of the game in an attempt to “better” the software package, crash their personal computers, or cheat the online community. Side effects include poor framerate, lackluster physics, sorry movie-to-game adaptations, and an ill-placed feeling of haughty arrogance amongst the PC Gamer community as they looked down upon their lesser console gaming counterparts (Please seek medical attention if you have experienced any of the aforementioned symptoms). Now it seems that, thanks to the current specs of the XBox360/PS3/Wii, UGC has mutated and made its way over to the console realm. However, this form of UGC seems to be an uplifting, sterilized version of its PC big brother, as it actually enhances gameplay for a truly unique experience.
In ‘Banjo: Nuts & Bolts’, UGC is the primary form of gameplay, requiring the gamer – thats you – to create an armada of planes/buses/hovercraft/tanks/flying motorcyles/grenades-on-wheels/batmobiles/etc. to complete the various tasks within the game. Believe it or not, this is actually really freakin’ cool, as the game really forces the creative juices out of you to come up with as many wacky vehicles as possible to complete the 125 challenges present.
Example: You are charged with winning a race in which brick barriers of varying height are layed across the track. You can:
- Build a lightweight car with springs on the bottom that allow you to bunny hop over the barriers.
- MONSTER TRUCK MANIA.
- Who wins the race between the Tortoise and the Hare? Especially when the tortoise is packing more heat than the Punisher. Lay waste to thine enemies than take your grand victory lap.
- Build phallic-shaped motorcycle to ‘penetrate’ the walls…giggidy.
And that’s just one of the more simple races early on. Other tasks ask you to do the impossible, such as build a vehicle as heavily armored as a tank and as quick as a lightweight fighter jet, or create an airplane with the on-ground manuveurability of a dune buggy. Some challenges will have you playing soccer, some downhill bobsledding, some water polo, and yet still others like pizza delivery man. No two tasks present the exact same conditions, meaning you’ll be constantly tweaking older vehicles or creating entirely new ones as your familiarity with the game’s physics engine sets in. Nevermind the fact that you’ll have over 100 unique parts gradually unveiled to you for use on your contraptions.
In short, you’re only really limited by your own insanity, and that's always a good thing.