A Time to Build: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

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[Editor’s note: tsunamikitsune talks about Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts’ vehicle customizations for his A Time to Build Monthly Musing. Sweet Dtoid ride! — CTZ]

For the past week or so, I’ve been playing Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts almost nonstop. Despite the negativity surrounding the bear and bird’s latest adventure, I’ve had a lot of fun with it. The humorous dialogue and lovable characters of the original games mixed with the stunning graphics the Xbox 360 manages to pump out makes Nuts & Bolts an instant winner in my book. The vehicle-based gameplay does leave a bit to be desired, but everything else is so overwhelmingly amazing that I can hardly let a few difficult turns take my enjoyment away.

Few people were happy with Banjo and Kazooie leaving their platforming roots for the racing scene. I was one of those people. At a $40 price tag and the promise of a free (and early) download of the original Banjo-Kazooie, how could I not give it a fighting chance? I’m happy to say that I’m nowhere near disappointed and I haven’t had this much fun with a game in quite a while. The vehicle racing does suck to the extent that I don’t especially look forward to my next race, but I’m still loving this game.

Why, you ask? Hit the jump to find out.

The vehicle creation, of course! With all the hatred surrounding the gameplay itself, I feel like the best part of the game is overlooked. In most of the single-player challenges and multiplayer matches, you can pilot your own custom built car, plane, boat, or any other transportation device you can think up.

At first, the part selection is fairly limited. There’s not a whole lot you can create with a few blocks and tires. As you explore the HUB world, however, you’ll find a number of crates filled with new vehicle parts that everyone’s favorite Shaman-Mechanic, Mumbo Jumbo, can add to the workshop. There are also parts and pre-made blueprints for sale in town. It doesn’t take long for your tiny collection of vehicle components to increase and allow for a wide variety of mobile contraptions.

I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more time in the workshop creating vehicles than completing challenges, so I’ve come up with my fair share of creations. The Mr. Destructoid head is probably my new favorite, although I’m not sure it would do too well in an actual challenge. My (work-in-progress) recreation of Dr. Robotnik’s wrecking ball-equipped hovercraft, however, gets a fair bit of use in challenges that require me to fetch something. The wrecking ball part will stick to nearly anything (even other vehicles) making it good for transporting items (or hauling your friends away).

Speaking of hauling your friends away, there’s a lot of fun to be had playing online with your own custom creations. While I haven’t gotten too deep into multiplayer yet, I did play a few interesting gametypes (one that comes to mind involved driving spoon-shaped cars and racing with giant eggs that you had to protect) and I got a lot of cool ideas for gametypes of my own. For example, there’s a few gun turret parts that would allow a second person to ride on your vehicle and focus on controlling its weaponry while you do the driving. Get a few teams of two and go at it!

Unfortunately, multiplayer does have its limitations to keep lag at a minimum. There are a few parts, such as the detacher (which allows you detach parts from your vehicle, a great part for leaving the bulk of your heavily damaged tank behind and speeding away in the tiny hod rod hidden inside), the Tow Bar (which allows for some slithering snake-like vehicles), and the Self-Destruct (which is pretty self-exclamatory). In the single-player game, vehicles can be bashed and trashed into little pieces, but in the multiplayer portion, the vehicles are treated more as one solid item. Kind of lame, as the detachers are one of my favorite parts, but it’s a small price to pay when there’s so much other multiplayer fun to be had.

Rare has done a great job of supporting the creations that players come up with by including the ability to take photos and save replays. Photos can be viewed in-game or uploaded to the official Banjo-Kazooie Web site, where anyone can check them out in the Showroom. Replays are great for saving your best challenge runs and sending them off to your friends in-game. Each challenge also has its own Leaderboard with replays of the top ten runs, in case you’re not quite sure what to do. You can even save the blueprints of the top ten vehicles and try your hand at the winning strategies. Friends can also share blueprints between each other if you want to get an awesome all-pogo stick race going with your buddies.

I’m blown away by the amount of parts and possibilities the latest Banjo-Kazooie presents to me. I’m even more blown away by the fact that I still have a ways to go before I have all the parts in the game! I’m having a ton of fun creating my own vehicles and various other monstrosities. Although I’m not terribly fond of the demo (because it lacks the awesome opening sequence that will make Banjo-Kazooie fans fall in the love with the game). I highly recommend fans and non-fans alike to give it a download and try their hand at creating their own masterpiece.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is a great game with an awesome amount of customization and it sucks that so many people are passing on it just because it’s a change from the old games. Open your minds and pretend Banjo and Kazooie aren’t in this game. If this game was called Herbert-Brenda: Nuts & Bolts and starred a plucky wombat named Herbert and his satchel-dwelling companion, a smart-mouthed flamingo named Brenda, would people still frown upon it as much as they do? I don’t think so.

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