Home > Gaming, Opinions (Gaming) > Gaming: When Nuts & Bolts Gets it Right

Gaming: When Nuts & Bolts Gets it Right

A load of balls.

Pretty much all the top scores on the leaderboards have either been min/maxed or cheated to ridiculous levels, making any score you achieve look puny and ridiculous even when you feel like you've done really well.

I don’t have any particular fondness for the classic Banjo games so the announcement that 2008’s Nuts & Bolts was to be based around assembling vehicles and completing challenges while minimising the platform elements didn’t feel like a grand betrayal. A bigger concern was that I don’t actually like controlling vehicles, in games or reality (I don’t have a driver’s license), and find them incredibly dull/annoying in games so avoid those that are vehicle heavy (which in part explains why I don’t much like the Grand Theft Auto games, built as they are on fail-and-repeat vehicle missions). In the early stages Nuts & Bolts didn’t really sell me on the vehicles as there are lots of annoying races with tight time limits, as well as collection challenges and even escort/protect missions (which would be annoying enough on foot, let alone while trying to manoeuvre a vehicle).

But then there are other times when the game presents you with a challenge that’s properly open, where even the difficult Trophy Thomas requirement is unusually generous and you’re free to approach things your way, while also having a varied enough selection of parts that it doesn’t feel like your creativity is wasted on just making the kind of vehicle you’re supposed to. One example is the hurdle race in the sports themed Jiggoseum level. Around the race track is a series of brick walls which need to be leapt over:

A hurdle.

You can click the picture for a link to the full image on http://banjo-kazooie.com, but it's just a wall so you should really know what they look like.

Now, you can approach the challenge just like your opponents do, attach springs to a vehicle and leap over them all:


Landings can be a bit awkward (especially if there's somebody underneath) but it's the most sporting option. Again, click the image for the full size thing.

You can be particularly cheap by attaching wings and propellers so that you can just fly over them all:


Doing it this way completely removes the hurdles from the equation and allows you to cut out huge chunks of the track at either end, assuming you can live with the unbearable guilt of using cheap tactics in a single player video game that encourages creativity. Click the picture for a link to a larger image.

Or you can do away with all this aerial hurdle-dodging nonsense entirely and make a vehicle heavy enough to just smash through the walls without slowing:


Doing it this way is like being the comically overweight/unfit character in a cartoon who can only run straight into the hurdles, except it's both fast and a valid approach to victory. Click the picture for a link to the full image.

It’s at points like this that Nuts & Bolts really shines, where you have a collection of vehicles suited to a lot of tasks but enough variety in the tasks and pieces owned that even if you pass a challenge you’re tempted to go back to design a new vehicle or tweak an existing one. The tools are simple enough that whipping up a vehicle is a quick and painless process so making a new one never feels like a chore. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts has been one of those games in my collection that I’ve wanted to play but was always shoved aside for something else, and now that I’ve found the time I’m enjoying myself more than I thought I would. It looks great, has some excellent music (which is used repetitively), is full of Rare’s humour (and makes fun of itself) and when it properly gets going building vehicles really does add something to the game.

As an aside, I like the simple process Rare employs for sharing content. Every challenge you attempt is recorded and can be saved upon success/failure and those replays can be sent to friends to show off a great achievement or a spectacular failure (or just to show off vehicles), or you can play the replays back yourself and take photos, which can then be easily uploaded to Banjo-Kazooie.com (all the above screenshots came from my game). Even if they’re not as good as official screenshots, being able to have my own pictures adds a lot. There was talk of Microsoft including video capture as a built-in feature on the next Xbox, which would really be a welcome (if storage-intensive) feature and I’d love to see more games adopting it in general.

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  1. January 3, 2011 at 19:02

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