Review by pi314159
"This games gives you more freedom than any sandbox title"
I'm a fan of the original Banjo-Kazooie and, in my opinion, it's easy the best adventure game for the Nintendo 64 (Body Harvest being a close second). That's why I had to race to the store to pick up Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. That's right, I raced there in my very boring car with 4 wheels, 4 seats, 1 engine, and no grenade launchers.... Never again.
Banjo Kazooie gets off to a bit of a slow start by only allowing you to access extremely basic components, but once you have your first propeller and you're fire gun, you'll be able to make unimaginably awesome vehicles to accomplish the various tasks in the game.
The game, much like previous adventure titles in the series, takes place in a main world that has portals to the various levels in which your game currency (notes) and key items (Jiggies) can be earned. Unfortunately, the only vehicle allowed in the main world is a crappy trolly they give you, this being a mechanism of controlling your progression in the game so that more areas open up more gradually as you play.
Entering the levels, however, allows you to use any vehicle your have constructed or any one you decide to build on the spot. Jiggies are earned by completing challenges issued be characters in these levels. You also earn an additional jiggy every time you perform 4 tasks very quickly or very well. Aside from a small number of challenges, you can build any vehicle you like to accomplish any challenge, and this is where the game shines.
The construction of a vehicle has got to be the best part of this game. If you ever liked Legos as a kid you will love building and operating vehicles in Banjo Kazooie. It's a simple 3D grid system where every part occupies a single cube grid area or a connected group of grid cubes. You can add any parts you have to any vehicle you want in any way that you want and the physics engine will determine how works (or doesn't work). Eg, you build a helicopter with 1 small engine and 100 body parts, you'll have difficulty flying. You build an airplane with 6 wings on the left side and none on the right and you'll have a very easy time flying.... in circles.
Additional parts include fuel tanks, engines, guns, melee weapons, seats, storage devices (for moving various in-game items), random structural components, wheels, wings, propellers, flotation devices, monster truck wheels and many more. If you are creative, you can build anything in Banjo Kazooie.
Rare has a long history of immaculate graphics, such as Kame: Elements of power and Star Fox: Adventures. BKNB is no exception. It clearly intended to be cartoony, but every level looks wonderful, vibrant and clean. The extremely high standard of graphical beauty is maintained in this game.
The water looks sparkling and fresh, the trees look pleasantly vibrant, ice looks cold and compelling, and fire looks legitimately hot. The graphics in BKNB are superb.
Rare also does really well in this department. Vehicles are controlled wit ha very simple system: Right trigger accelerates and Left trigger decelerates. Which direction is which depends on what propulsion your vehicle has.
Also, the X/Y/B/etc buttons control all the other functions of your craft. Namely your guns, bomb launchers, folding wings, grappling hook and the like can all be assigned to a button of your choosing and activated freely of the other components. Very effective.
This is where BKNB fails and thus why I cannot give this game a perfect score. The designers clearly express distaste with how sequels are generally forced and how defeated villians always feel fake when they manage to come back from an apparently crippling defeat in a previous title. That said, this isn't the only thing BKNB makes fun of: if you pay attention to the dialogue of the characters (all of which you can skip by pressing Y, should you choose) it usually includes a quip about the tenancies of videogames and of the series itself.
That said, BKNB has no real plot by itself. It makes fun of itself and other videogames in ways that are charming and funny, but if you demand Bio-shock quality story telling, then that might not make it up for you.
Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is a new game with fantastically original game mechanics that are flawlessly implemented into a picture-perfect gaming world. I highly recommend it.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/17/08
Game Release: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (US, 11/12/08)
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