Ever since Microsoft bought Rareware in 2002, fans of the development company have been waiting patiently for their killer app to make its way to the Xbox. After a long wait, seemingly official details have surfaced over the newest incarnation of everyone's favorite bear and bird duo. The response has been overwhelming confusion.
It is understandable, the feeling of alienation and fear over the apparent sea change Banjo-Kazooie has made from charming, subversive Super Mario 64-esque collectathon to... whatever it is now. But, this change is not as big or unexpected as it might seem, if you look at some important factors.
It is ten years after Banjo-Kazooie was released, and the gaming world is a different beast then it was back then. The original Banjo-Kazooie came into a world when we still enjoyed the 3d action/adventure/platformer/collectathon. Crash Bandicoot 3 came out in 1998, Spyro came out in 1998, Blasto
came out in 1998.
These were the games we played, because that's what we had to play. Nowadays, people have come to realize that the endless collection of these games was a poor excuse for length. (In a given level of Banjo-Kazooie, you had to collect 100 notes, 10 Jiggys, 6 Jingos, as well as any number of skulls for Mumbo Jumbo, in addition to maintaining your egg and feather supply.) A modern game could not get away with this, so a straightforward, same pattern Banjo-Kazooie would be out of the question.
Rare is well aware of this change, when their last two revamps of Nintento standbys for the Xbox (Perfect Dark:Zero and Conker: Live & Reloaded) received lukewarm reception. Neither had made big strides in moving forward in their design, and both suffered for it. Since Banjo-Kazooie is arguably Rare's biggest series, they do not want it to fall to the same "meh" fate. So, they followed the trend. And what trend is that?
The collecathon platformer action adventures faded with the new breed of PS2 platformers, Jak and Daxter as well as Ratchet and Clank. While both still had collecting as one of the primary foci, Ratchet and Clank used that as means to facilitate the weaponry in their games, and Jak and Daxter abandoned the previous generation's "kiddie" platformer games by the second entry in the series, finally by the third one turning into a platformer/racer/shooter.
Rare had already "matured" one of its series, so the odds of Banjo chomping a cigar and mowing down Gruntilda was pretty low. But, it is undoubtedly a descendant of the Jak and Daxter school of platform, itself a reaction to the orginal Banjo-Kazooie. While Nuts and Bolts may not be as fun as fans nostalgia of games past, it is perfectly understandable to leverage the series' natural tendency to collect every possible item in a world, and give it an actual application. (building vehicles)
And the "overly busy graphics"?
Did anybody not see that one coming?