Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is a game that I have been waiting to see. With numerous previews coming out and first impressions. Here is my pre-game verdict on this new title. When I first heard that the game is more oriented towards vehicle creation rather than platforming, I was a bit worried. So worried, I began to think that this game would not do well. However, after a recent preview I read of the game, I started to think logically on what this game truly means for the series.
Do keep in mind that this article is based on reading other journalists first impressions and previews of the game. I have not had any hands-on time with it at all.
What we have come to recognize in the Banjo-Kazooie series as four things:
1. Platforming with useful moves to get around.
2. Developed characters and story.
3. Item collection.
4. Massive worlds to explore.
First assume that this list isn't respective in any nature. Now, assume when Rare first started developing Nuts and Bolts that they considered all of these things. Let's say they first considered the characters; where the story was going from the end of Banjo-Tooie and what they could do with it. After establishing a story, they considered the world creation. Now with updated hardware Rare could create massive worlds and areas to explore. Finally they would consider the platforming and item collection aspect. Item collection would turn out not to be a problem. However with the addition of massive worlds, Banjo and Kazooie would need a vehicle to get around. BAM! That's where the idea probably started. Why not give Banjo and Kazooie a vehicle to drive around. They could even upgrade it or drive different ones. Hey, why not make part of the game, building the vehicle from any parts they want. Wham! This is where your platforming aspects get pushed aside for a while. While I believe this will be a great game, I do believe they finished the vehicle idea and fully explored it before coming back to the platforming aspects. From the multiple previews and first impressions I have read, I believe that the developer just threw in platforming aspects secondary.
While this will probably prove to be okay this idea can lead to angry fans. Sure, lots of fans are angry and the platforming elements and vehicle elements probably should of been developed equally (I like my moves). There is plenty of time for improvement in later titles. Hopefully Rare won't come out and say during the sequel something like:
"Yes, we decided to go back to the pure platforming elements as the vehicle sections were not received well in the last game."
This is only okay if Nuts and Bolts fails. This probably won't happen though as the game seems to be getting fairly decent reviews. As for my pre-game verdict on Nuts and Bolts, I do approve of this new addition to Banjo-Kazooie. All though if they do want to improve the franchise it would be advised well to spend probably a little more time with the games roots and not throwing most of the formula away. The old saying goes: If its not broken, why fix it? However, if its not broken don't hack away the good parts to add something new.
Overall, Rare's new title looks great if not good. What they can do for the sequel though is balance the platforming aspect a little more with the vehicle creation and anything else they want to add in. Keeping the fanchise safe from the one trick pony brigade that seems to be sweeping a lot of titles with potential.
With recent titles such as Fracture, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Lego Batman: The Videogame (this game as there hasn't been anything new to the series), Rocketbowl, and Mercenaries 2: World in Flames just to name a few, there seems to be a growing industry standard that if a developer can market a cool feature for this game then it will flesh itself out.
This is a very bad and ignorant idea. Such to say that cool and original features can add to a game and possibly revolutionize a genre. However, when in game development studios should consider that a mechanic needs to be balanced and smaller or equivalent features should be added to flesh out the game. These features can be based off of the original marketed idea or stand alone themselves. Via new capabilities, redefining, or puzzles. Also a combination of these doesn't hurt.
Puzzles are the most common way and while this tends to add to the experience , the puzzles tend to repeat themselves. Another aspect that causes a one trick pony effect is no enviromental variation. Environments in this current generation, older generations, and hopefully next generation should have variation. Environments can effect how the player moves or how a puzzle is solved as it can provide new problems as well as create new solutions. Thus ultimately changing the puzzle. Whether it is adding an ice level where you slide a bit before stopping and thin ice or mine field in sand. These would of greatly varied Fracture even. As the game featured a terrain deformation however only covered ground as the only thing to be deformed. Terrain deformation shouldn't of stopped at moving the ground up and down. This mechanic could of been fleshed out as much as possible. Water can make ice or be melted for rafts and traps as well as be made into cover. The ground could of been deformed into lava traps. Not exploring every possibility and turning out something generic is no exception.
My point is that developers should spend time fleshing things out till the game is fat and beautiful. Not coming to terms with a physics engine and expecting to make an amazing game with out competing with ground breaking games or building on something and no cutting something good is not a worthy or logical idea. Production dates can be pushed back, especially if its marketed correctly and explained correctly how the game can be enhanced.
Hopefully developers will get this message eventually especially if they want their games to be hits. Smaller titles and independent titles are no exception. If there is enough devotion and care for a game, then there should be a quality competitive product. read