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Joseph Rositano
24 Dec, 2008

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts Review

360 Review | A tightened nut or a loose bolt?
Poor Banjo has had a rough few months - fans retaliating against his high definition square nose, Kazooie seemingly taking a backseat in his latest adventure, and most dominantly, the change to vehicle-based gameplay. Despite the early criticism, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is by far one of the best titles to come from Rare in recent years. The game is absolutely massive, there’s a range of different activities to undertake, and the online components add a nice touch to the already immersive gameplay. That said, some fans will still be deterred by the new direction Rare has taken with the franchise.

Nuts & Bolts is set eight years after the events of Banjo-Tooie. Banjo and Kazooie have become fat and lazy over the years, having lost their old abilities and spending their days playing videogames. Still seeking revenge, Gruntilda manages to hop her skull all the way to Spiral Mountain, challenging the duo to another fight. Before they can commence, a being known as the Lord of Games (or L.O.G. for short) stops them and proclaims he’s tired or their endless bickering. He strikes a deal with the arch-rivals – they will compete in a series of challenges with the ultimate victor winning the deed to Spiral Mountain and the loser being forced to work in his videogame factory. After some reluctance everyone agrees, which sets in motion another fun-filled adventure.

As mentioned, unlike previous entries in series, Nuts & Bolts is focused around the idea of using vehicles to explore and complete challenges. You’ll initially start off with just a basic trolley, but you’ll slowly gain new parts that enhance its features. An example is the spring. This allows the vehicle to jump into the air and access high platforms. Later, you’ll even gain inflatable devices that let you travel across water, it’s rather unique and engaging as it opens up new possibilities. In a nod to past games, you can go completely old-school and walk around on foot. During these moments you can climb poles and walk across tightropes, but the reality is the game wasn’t designed for it. Each level is massive, and it would take minutes just to cross from point A to point B. The only reason you’ll get out of the vehicle is to collect an item for transport or talk to non-playable characters.

Don't take the trolley for granted, it's the best multi-purpose vehicle around.

Don't take the trolley for granted, it's the best multi-purpose vehicle around.
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The main meat of the game comes from building your own vehicles. In addition to the parts you’re rewarded with by progressing, there are crates scattered across the hub world which contain even more parts. You’ll also be able to purchase them directly from Humba’s shop, as well as pre-built vehicle blueprints. The creation process takes place in Mumbo’s Motors, a garage of sorts operated by everyone’s favourite shaman. The layout is pretty straight forward - just stack together vehicle parts as if they were LEGO pieces and presto, you have your own car with jet engines. Okay, there are a few laws of physics you’ll need to take into account. Firstly, most vehicles will require an engine and fuel gauge to operate. You also need to consider weight distribution – if you have all the weight on one side, your vehicle will be prone to tumbling over and you’ll find turning is uneven. Other than these sorts of trivial matters, your imagination can go wild. You can create bikes, planes, helicopters and pretty much anything in between, you just need to make sure you have the necessary parts. In case you aren’t quite confident in your creativity, you can select pre-built designs and modify them to your heart’s content.

After you’ve made your dream machine, there are a few options that are available. You can paint it different colours, add a few accessories such as mirrors, and even see how it performs on a test track. More importantly, you can save its blueprint and come back to it later when you have more powerful parts. This is also an important step for challenges (see next paragraph), as you can quickly select any of your previous designs without stepping into the garage. What we were particularly fond of however was the ability to send blueprints to friends via Xbox Live. It’s just great to be able to show off your design skills and help friends by making adjustments to their vehicles. As a whole, the vehicle designer has been implemented well. There’s enough options to keep creative players happy, while there are also tutorial videos and the option to start with existing blueprints for the less technical-minded.

A first for the series is that worlds are now split into different acts. This allows the developers to change elements such as the position of objects, characters and environmental conditions. Each act has a certain number of challenges to undertake, which is where the real gameplay comes in. Challenges can range from simple matters such as winning a race or protecting an object, to more creative ideas like knocking down a set of dominoes or seeing how far you can travel relying on only momentum. Before you start a challenge, you’ll have the option to choose from any of your pre-built designs, but if you feel you don’t have anything suited to the task you can always load up the garage and make alterations or an entirely new vehicle. The rewards system is fairly basic: if you barely pass a challenge you’ll get musical notes which act as the game’s currency. If you pass respectably you’ll get a jigsaw piece which is used to open up new worlds. Finally, if you pass with flying colours you’ll win a T.T. trophy, which are later used to obtain more jigsaw pieces. In a way this is both a strength and weakness of the game. On one hand, the system encourages players to take their time perfecting their designs so they can get the best possible result. On the other, it prevents players from diving straight into the action, which veteran Banjo players may find frustrating. It will come down to how patient you are, if you’re the type of person who likes to go in with guns blazing you would probably get bored when you reach the latter stages.

Tip: Use a plane for this one and go charging in at an angle.

Tip: Use a plane for this one and go charging in at an angle.
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To be perfectly honest, during extended play sessions challenges can start feeling a bit repetitive. Fortunately, there is a lot more to do than just building and driving vehicles. As we mentioned, you can collect crates in the hub world of Showdown Town, but it’s also fun to explore and interact with different characters there. Feel like some traditional platform gaming? Just head down to Klungo’s Arcade and play the 2D scrolling levels where all you have to do is time your jumps. If that doesn’t float your boat, you can free imprisoned Jinjos and lock up their evil Minjo counterparts. The sheer scope of Nuts & Bolts easily trumps previous Banjo games, which is both an achievement on the developer’s part and will keep players entertained for hours.

Xbox Live has been thoughtfully integrated in a number of areas. You can upload your challenge scores to online leaderboards, view videos and blueprints of the higher-ranked players (if they’ve uploaded them), and also post and browse photos on Banjo-Kazooie.com. There’s also a fully fledged multiplayer mode that can be played either locally or via Xbox Live. Most modes mainly consist of you racing or brawling in your own customised vehicles, and you can choose to display your blueprints to other players or hide them. Unfortunately, while multiplayer is solid and can be quite fun in short bursts, it feels more like a distraction from the main game. It’s just it can be a little overwhelming when someone has this pimped-out vehicle compared to your basic car or boat. It takes the fun away, and leaves you wishing you stuck to the single-player game. Still, it’s perfect for friend-only matches. To be quite frank, Nuts & Bolts would have been fine without any online components, but what’s on offer adds an extra spark to the already pleasant experience.

Visually, the game looks like a cartoon come to life. In Showdown Town you have all these different animals scurrying about, while in other levels you have beautiful backdrops. It’s also worth noting the game has hundreds of Banjo-Kazooie references. In the town square there’s a shop called Tooty Fruity, while in the LOGBOX 720 world you’ll see spinning Banjo-Kazooie discs. Sadly, the massive worlds seem to push the physics engine. You’ll often notice the frame rate drops when you’re looking out at a distant object, which is a little disappointing. Thankfully it’s not game breaking, but it happens enough to be noticeable. Banjo fans’ ears are in for a treat as well, each world is remixed with classic Banjo tunes. Perhaps the most dominant example is Banjoland. The entire level’s theme consists of tunes from Gobi’s Desert, Mad Monster Mansion, Click Clock Wood and many more.

Don't get too used to walking around on foot, the game is designed for vehicles.

Don't get too used to walking around on foot, the game is designed for vehicles.
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If you haven’t already got it, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts should be on the top of your Christmas wish list. The game has the classic Banjo humour combined with an all-new gameplay direction. It features massive environments to explore, a well implement vehicle designing mode, and offers a range of different tasks to accomplish. The main drawback for some players is the game encourages you to take to take your time perfecting your vehicle for each individual challenge, which may be unappealing if you prefer diving straight into the action. There are also a few minor hindrances such as the frame rate dropping and the multiplayer mode not being completely satisfying. However, the adventure is fun and engaging enough to keep you playing for hours. Returning veterans should walk in open-mind though, Nuts & Bolts is nothing like the Nintendo 64 outings and will take some getting used to.
The Score
Rare took a huge risk by giving the franchise a new direction, but thankfully it paid off. Nuts & Bolts is easily one of their best titles in recent years.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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34 Comments
5 years ago
pfft
5 years ago
still haven't played it then?
5 years ago
Everyone has there own opinions mate.
Personally I couldn't stand Nuts & Bolts, but I'm having a blast with B-K Arcade.
5 years ago
really, holy shit, and here i was thinking for the last 34 years that you were all clones, someone call the papers.
I have no problem with people forming an opinion based on actually playing it.......
5 years ago
Doesn't look like a game I'd enjoy much, but maybe the kiddies will enjoy it.
5 years ago
not that I have kids lol, kiddies in general as it looks bright n' colourful for a younger age group.
5 years ago
^Use the Edit button dude.

Anyway, great review Joseph! Totally agree with it.
5 years ago
My sister bought it for me for christmas icon_dumb.gif looking forward too it but
5 years ago
What are your opinions on donkey **** chimp?A fan?Not a fan?Haven't tried it even though all your friends are into it?
5 years ago
I like donkey ****, you can throw it at people in suits.

I don't know if I want Nuts and Bolts, the demo was pretty uninspiring personally. Maybe I'll give it another try.

You know, I'm disliking a lot of "popular" games these days (Fable 2 and Fallout 3 being the standouts), maybe I'm becoming a jaded gamer.
5 years ago
Sin Ogaris wrote
You know, I'm disliking a lot of "popular" games these days (Fable 2 and Fallout 3 being the standouts), maybe I'm becoming a jaded gamer.
I hear you man, you're not the only one. You won't see Gears 2, Resistance 2, Fable 2 (everything seems to have gotten a sequel this year icon_neutral.gif) or Dead Space on my shelves. Fallout 3 and LittleBigPlanet are the only games that interest me at all, and I'm not in a hurry. That said, it's nothing new for me, but welcome to the club. icon_smile.gif

On topic, I didn't like the look of the game from the start, but I tried it anyway since I'm a BK fan. It seems my initial reaction was pretty accurate though, I'm no fan of racers in the first place, and the game feels like Banjo Kart disguised as something bigger to me. All the challenges are timed, which is annoying.

At least they did one thing right by releasing the original game on the XBLA, I enjoyed playing through it again, but they even managed to screw that up to an extent with the glitches which prevent people from getting 100% completion. I'm not amused.
5 years ago
Not all challenges are timed. The domino one I could freely move around stage in a plane to gain momentum etc, then went smashing into the dominos. How people managed to score 140 though is beyond me...
5 years ago
Jibbs wrote
What are your opinions on donkey **** chimp?A fan?Not a fan?Haven't tried it even though all your friends are into it?
Must fall back on petty insults that have nothing to do with anything, bravo....did you kick your feet and wave your arms about as well. Oh right, more than one motor function at once can be a little startling at first....but you'll get there in the end little buddy, i believe in you....
5 years ago
Jibbs wrote
What are your opinions on donkey **** chimp?A fan?Not a fan?Haven't tried it even though all your friends are into it?
only problem with that argument is donkey shit isnt enjoyed by a ton of people and gets average-good reveiws.
5 years ago
This game was a joke compaired to the previous banjo games i was super disappointed, got the original on the arcade tho but Nuts and Bolts went straight back to the store.
5 years ago
Lets not kid ourselves. LBP scared the crap out of MS and they made Rare change the formula.
5 years ago
Geez chimp, how was that an insult?I never said you DID **** donkeys, it was a mere euphemism for asking if you had an opinion on something you (hopefully) have never tried.Don't be such girl.(oh NAW he did-ent!)

And you do have an opinion, regardless of the fact you have never tried it.

I mean, at what point does someone 'earn' the right to judge a game?After playing it?If so for how long?Cheats on/off?With or without a 1st party controller?What if i have seen every screeny, every video, every review that there is to be had for the game?

I've never played superman 64, but look at a few screenies, a few vids and we all soon make up our minds.In addition to this, i've already explained my hate for nuts and bolts in the walkthrough thread-check it out, i even slipped in a reference to michael jackon chocolate!Post of the year?No.Post of the century?A strong contender!

And while we are ending our posts with inspirational 80's one liners chimp, you've got the touch........you've got the power........UHHH!
5 years ago
^ You're just bitter, and I know why.
Jibbs, Wed May 14, 2008 4:42 pm wrote
i'll change my username to 'dumbass lil bitch' if this game [Banjo-Kazooie 3] gets more then an 8 on palgn
admeister wrote
Sin Ogaris wrote
You know, I'm disliking a lot of "popular" games these days (Fable 2 and Fallout 3 being the standouts), maybe I'm becoming a jaded gamer.
I hear you man, you're not the only one. You won't see Gears 2, Resistance 2, Fable 2 (everything seems to have gotten a sequel this year icon_neutral.gif) or Dead Space on my shelves. Fallout 3 and LittleBigPlanet are the only games that interest me at all, and I'm not in a hurry. That said, it's nothing new for me, but welcome to the club. icon_smile.gif
Are you kidding? You never would have liked those games anyway. You never liked the games for grown-ups. Sin was talking about changing attitudes. Your gaming tastes don't appear to have changed at all.
5 years ago
Oh you and your selectiuve quoting spanca, it's like when a movie reviewer says 'the happening is, hands down, the years BEST film-where 'years' means 'centuries', 'best' means 'worst' and 'film' means 'worst piece of shit to ever grace the silver screen'

and then the makers slap that first line, sans the criticism on the back of the dvd to move it off the shelves.Quote the entire block, and i still win(unless your dancesinunderwear, but he doesnt count....or read or write or dress himself)

Don't be that guy spanx icon_sad.gif
5 years ago
I rented this game and hated the fact that everything is done in the vehicles... it drove me mental for some reason.
This is a good game if you can get past that fact, although personally I couldn't :'( The humor in it is really good too and I didn't find it too kiddy, sure it's cute but Kazooie pulls some great jokes that I don't think anyone under 15 would understand/get the point icon_razz.gif
5 years ago
Jibbs wrote
Oh you and your selectiuve quoting spanca, it's like when a movie reviewer says 'the happening is, hands down, the years BEST film-where 'years' means 'centuries', 'best' means 'worst' and 'film' means 'worst piece of **** to ever grace the silver screen'

and then the makers slap that first line, sans the criticism on the back of the dvd to move it off the shelves.Quote the entire block, and i still win(unless your dancesinunderwear, but he doesnt count....or read or write or dress himself)

Don't be that guy spanx icon_sad.gif
The only additional bit to to that post is that you later edited it to add the qualifier of an 8 on metacritic. It has 79 at the moment (which is technically more than 8 icon_razz.gif) which is why I don't expect you to change your name, but the point of quoting your post remains. You expected the game to be utter **** and sub-8. It turned out to be 'not that bad' and you don't seem to be able to suck it up.

I'm like you though, I'm a big big Banjo fan and I haven't bothered with Nuts and Bolts. I wanted Banjo Threeie and I didn't get it.
5 years ago
Then why are we arguing?Baby, why we always gotta fight on christmas?
5 years ago
Spanca wrote
Are you kidding? You never would have liked those games anyway. You never liked the games for grown-ups. Sin was talking about changing attitudes. Your gaming tastes don't appear to have changed at all.
I didn't ask for your opinion Spanca, I'd have thought you were better than that. You're off the Christmas card list. icon_razz.gif I swear, even mods can't keep posts on topic these days...

On topic, that's true Joseph, there are a few exceptions. You have to admit though, the game puts a lot of pressure on you to complete tasks within a certain time limit, it's a bit overdone imo. In any case, at least I've actually played the game before making up my mind about whether it was any good or not. That said, it's entirely up to the individual to choose what they want to buy/play, so let's not fight. Appearances can be deceiving, but from my experience, not in this case unfortunately.

Edit: Negging me? Right back at you.
5 years ago
Spanca wrote
Jibbs wrote
Oh you and your selectiuve quoting spanca, it's like when a movie reviewer says 'the happening is, hands down, the years BEST film-where 'years' means 'centuries', 'best' means 'worst' and 'film' means 'worst piece of **** to ever grace the silver screen'

and then the makers slap that first line, sans the criticism on the back of the dvd to move it off the shelves.Quote the entire block, and i still win(unless your dancesinunderwear, but he doesnt count....or read or write or dress himself)

Don't be that guy spanx icon_sad.gif
The only additional bit to to that post is that you later edited it to add the qualifier of an 8 on metacritic. It has 79 at the moment (which is technically more than 8 icon_razz.gif) which is why I don't expect you to change your name, but the point of quoting your post remains. You expected the game to be utter **** and sub-8. It turned out to be 'not that bad' and you don't seem to be able to suck it up.

I'm like you though, I'm a big big Banjo fan and I haven't bothered with Nuts and Bolts. I wanted Banjo Threeie and I didn't get it.
Once palgns 8.5 is up on meta critic it will push the score above 80. I won't rest until I see Jibbs name changed! If it falls below 80, he can change it back.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  27/11/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
Publisher:
  Microsoft
Genre:
  Action Adventure
Year Made:
  2008
Players:
  1

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