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Banjo Kazooie: Nuts-N-Bolts (Xbox 360)

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts-N-Bolts (Xbox 360)

It has been some time since we have seen a Banjo Kazooie game from Rare so it was with much excitement that we received our review copy of Nuts & Bolts. Rare have however made a break with tradition and this time around the game focuses on designing vehicles to tackle many challenges. It is certainly a unique idea, but today we will find out how well it works.

Time has passed, Banjo and Kazooie are out of shape and they have lost their powers. The Lord Of The Games (LOG) has set together a series of challenges between the nasty Gruntilda and the heroes to settle their never-ending arguments. Yes, it is a rather flaky story, but to be fair it is clear that Rare have just slapped this together to make the whole thing slightly more coherent within the histrionics of the characters.

You begin the game in a hub world which is called Showdown Town and from here you travel to other worlds for challenges to win jigsaw pieces so that you can unlock the doors and move further into the game world. There are 100 jiggies to collect as well as 1900 musical notes and they all exist inside massive, fantastically designed worlds. It is easily Rare’s largest world to date. Thankfully for younger players, the development has been tuned so that all age groups can play  … you won’t get punished for playing at a slower pace.

In keeping with the intentional design which encompasses a wide age span, the game encourages the player to skip ahead and then come back later to replay for better scores, this key design ethic means a young audience will find it less frustrating by not being stuck in one location.

Nuts N Bolts features a powerful vehicle creation tool which works in a similar manner as you would experience with a Lego or Mechano set. You select a seat and build up around the centre point by adding wheels, a chassis, an engine – join it all together with bolts and you have your first car! There are various upgrades at your disposal, such as larger engines for more speed and springs to put under it so it will jump. There are literally hundreds of pieces from various sub sections meaning you have almost endless limitations for personalised rides.

There are a plethora of tutorials and half built cars which ease you into the game play mechanic and there are pre made vehicle blueprints which are unlocked and ease you into the game. There are also a selection of basic challenges which mean before you hit the main game that you will know exactly what is going on.

The challenges vary in nature, for example in one you are placed in a ring with an opponent and you do battle, Sumo wrestling style … meaning the first person to be knocked out of the ring loses the match. How you handle these challenges depends on how you build the vehicle, you can focus on speed, add ejector seats, or build it for pure power and strength. Everything you add has an effect on how the vehicle will handle, so building something with two engines will make it go faster and adding fuel storage means that it will weigh more and not steer so well. So while you might spend some time creating a vision of your masterpiece the end result could mean you have a lemon which doesn’t go around corners or handle jumps. Returning to the shop for fine tuning means you can make some comprises to your artistic creation. The end results can sometimes be surprisingly rewarding.

An aspect of Nuts N Bolts which will appeal to many is the huge array of things you can do outside the jiggie challenges that you play for basic game progression. There are a plethora of side quests and jingoes offer a challenge inside the game worlds. There are also a huge selection of crates to find with various vehicle parts inside. Klungo’s Arcade also deserves special mention as it is an old school platform game which is a nice little addition to the overall package.

So far it is all childlike fun to the highest degree, but a weird design decision stands out, especially considering the accessible nature of the building and game play. There is no voice acting. Yes, this means if you have a young kid playing the game he/she is going to have to start reading text to follow what is going on. A good thing? maybe, but I can see many of the younger audience finding this frustrating and less immersive. From my viewpoint this seems somewhat counter intuitive to the overall design ethic.

Negatively, gamers who like action packed titles may find the constant building and rebuilding somewhat of a chore, however if you are creative in any way then there is bound to be something appealing under the hood.

Graphically the game is decent, the colours are suitably bright and attractive and the textures and artistic aspects are well designed and implemented. Unfortunately there are some frame rate issues and it appears that a little more optimisation was needed before release. To be fair, there is quite a lot of physics content throughout but pop in textures negate the benefits. Overall however it works reasonably well and is appealing.

The audio side of the game is attractive, with plenty of sound effects which are indicative of a Rare game. Squawking birds, laughing bears and plenty of silly noises set the tone, however the total lack of voice acting is disappointing.

The game also tailors for multiplayer and while it is admirable in theory, the whole experience left me with a sour taste in my mouth. While the developers have catered for a full party system, offline play, team games and a wide variety of match types the lack of cohesion in design means it is awkward to navigate. When you do manage to get online the beginners playset means you are locked to stock cars, boats and planes. Playing in these races is not very exciting as everyone is using the same vehicles. The only way you get to use the cool designs is by entering the playlist options, however when you enter into these there is no instant action to hop into. All in all the multiplayer aspects are sadly lacking and unwelcoming to new players.

A redeeming point however are the sharing options. After completing any challenge you can save a recording of your progress and share it online via the leaderboards. This is actually quite helpful because you can download videos of levels you are having difficulty with and see how the top players completed it. Not only this but you can download the blueprint if they have decided to upload it, which means you can get access to their vehicles. Cheating? … well only a little.

Snapping pictures is also possible and you can upload them to to share them with other players. When you upload a picture you can add tags from a prebuilt list and then give it a unique name. Players online can then download these pictures on their X360 via the tags and then rate the design.

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is a moderate success, I applaud Rare for deviating off the beaten path with the design and implementation. Overall however the game didn’t hold my attention for that long and the multiplayer side is unforgiving and unfriendly. It has clearly been aimed at a younger audience, but some of the design traits mean it is more difficult to pick up that it should be, additionally a large portion of the older audience will more than likely be bored with the relatively slow pace and pedestrian game play.



A unique game which will only appeal to a select audience.


Great selection of colours and very vibrant. Some framerate and popin issues however.


Typical Rare style sound effects, but no voice acting at all.

Single player is decent if you have the patience and time to put into it. Multiplayer is disappointing.
(not an average)

Some great design choices but it just failed to impress me. Worth a rental.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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