majormitch's Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (Xbox 360) review

User-generated content for the everyman

One of the recent "buzz phrases" in gaming has been the notion of user-generated content. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is a follower of this idea, but perhaps not in the way you might initially think. It strikes a fine middle ground between a rigid mission structure and the freedom of vehicle building, the result of which is a stellar game that is easily recommendable to a wide audience.

Most user-generated content games (such as Spore and LittleBigPlanet) provide seemingly limitless playgrounds for the creative minds of the world, the purpose of which has always seemed generally ambiguous to me. In fact, I've always felt that this type of game simply urges the player be creative for creativity's sake, with no overarching goal or objective. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is here to show us that user-generated content can indeed have a focus, and provides a slew of missions to get the ball rolling. Of course, you have to build a vehicle that's suitable for the task. Fortunately, the vehicle building tools are as flexible as they are intuitive. The sheer variety of functionality that you can pack into a vehicle is astonishing, and the pieces generally function just as they appear they should. There are tons of ways to build a vehicle that will complete any given mission, making the activity of building vehicles feel like a legitimate, rewarding endeavor. In this way, Nuts and Bolts manages to combine structure and freedom with unprecedented success.

This conceptual marriage doesn't come without its rough edges, however. The vehicle controls are a little unwieldy at times, and there are a handful of repetitive and/or frustrating missions to be found. These are relatively minor grievances, but occurred a little more often than I would have liked. Fortunately, practically every other aspect of the game is superb, from the aforementioned vehicle building all the way down to the game's presentation. Nuts and Bolts is a gorgeous looking game, with vibrant colors and appealing artwork abound. It's also a surprisingly witty and funny game, and manages to poke fun at all sorts of gaming conventions- it even manages to make fun of itself on more than one occasion. Last but certainly not least, Nuts and Bolts' musical score is top notch. This is one of the most entertaining soundtracks I've heard in a while, and manages to pay homage to the franchise's history while simultaneously providing tons of great orchestrated music. Perhaps the best part of the game's presentation is that it all manages to resurrect that classic Banjo-Kazooie vibe that has been missing from the gaming world for too long, while carving its own charming path at the same time.

In practically every sense, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is a great new take on a classic franchise. It offers a fresh outlook on user-generated content, and should appeal to a wider audience as a result. It still may not appeal to those who are completely against user-generated content, and it does have its rough edges. But if those don't sound like deterrents to you, then Nuts and Bolts is a wholly enjoyable game that is well worth your time and money.
 
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