Whilst in this game monsoon season, I've got just enough money to buy one new release this month. So, when it came to choosing on what to spend my hard earned money on, there was bitter competition. Mirror's Edge for fast paced action and innovations in gameplay? Gears 2 for gritty man-on-locust action? MK vs DC? Dead Space? But I'm experiencing a bout of grit and shooter fatigue and my choice fell on Banjo - Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Especially after the demo, which I found, to my great surprise, to be really really fun. I don't mind collecting a lot of stuff, or the colors, or even the bit loose controls, because, it was really fun. And not only that, when I preordered, I also got a free copy of the original Banjo - Kazooie! So it saved me money, even.
Now, Chad really nailed what I feel about this game
. I have a much greater attachment to it than Mario 64, it always seemed more intricate, controlled better and felt more immersive than the 3D outing of our favorite plumber. Not saying that M64 is a bad game, but I've always liked BK much more. But I'm sure that there are people who are on the fence, and want to know how's the technical side of the port. Here's my verdict after playing for a hour and a half last night, completing the first two levels -- it's AMAZING.
First of all, everything runs in HD and widescreen, and what I suspect to be 60 FPS. There's some slowdown though, just as in the original when your jiggy count pops up, and when you're in water in the second level and the shark chases you. By the way, wasn't the shark named Bruce like the Jaws shark in the original? I'm not sure, but now his name is Chomper or something like that, which struck me as odd. If it's true, it's most likely a copyright issue, but not a big deal. But in the same level, you can see the biggest change - the draw distance is immense! The n64 games were always full of muddy fog and you really couldn't see more than a couple of feet in front of you, but now, when you fly to the top of the lighthouse, you can literally see the honeycomb pieces at the ground! Awesome! And speaking of honeycombs, the don't fade out any more, but stay around for as long as you don't quit the level. This makes everything a bit easier, since honeycombs were always quite tough to come by, and if you missed one, tough shit. Speaking of easier, it seems that now you don't have to recollect all your note pieces if you quit the level or die, something that always kept me from getting everything from all levels. Now though, I just might go for it. And I'm not a 100% sure, but seems like your air lasts longer underwater, fixing another point that always annoyed me. And then there's the biggest difference of all - the control.
The difference is like this, but more.
The controls are spot on. The sticks of n64 don't even compare to 360 controller, which is a granted, but the whole scheme has been remapped. The easiest way would have been an almost 1:1 conversion, you hold a trigger, and use the d-pad for Kazooie, but it's been remapped so that you use mostly triggers, and face buttons which is a lot more intuitive scheme. The only gripe I have, is that you can't adjust any of it, and can't flip the Y-axis in first person, but that's really minor, since it's used so rarely. Fuck you, I'm a shark.
But the weirdest thing was this - when I got all the Jinjos in the second level, Bottles popped up to tell me, I've been awarded a gamerpic. I've never heard of any games that give out gamerpics or themes or anything for ingame goals, but damn, it's a great idea! I'm hoping to see more it, hopefully in other games aswell. I'm sure there will be avatar clothing scattered in future titles.
So, if you weren't sure before, hopefully I helped. It's one of the best retro ports I've seen in XBLA, and if you're in any way into collectathons or oldschool style 3D platformers, it's the best 15 $ you'll spend this year. Now if my copy of Nuts & Bolts would just arrive ...