Video Game Thoughts: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts was a 2008 action-adventure game by Rare, Ltd. for the Xbox 360. As Christmas was coming around, I was looking for a game to put on my Christmas list. By this time all of us kids were now adults, but our parents still would get a few things for us. I usually asked for one game each year. Since I had recently bought the Xbox 360, I was looking to expand my library. I went through all the games that had come out in the last year. I didn’t find anything super interesting, but Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts caught my eye.

They had a cool idea where players could acquire various vehicle parts and then combine them to create their own custom vehicles. There were some schematics with pre-made vehicles, but the real fun was creating my own vehicles. The game was made up of one hub world and several levels. The goal was to find “jiggies” (golden jigsaw puzzle pieces) to unlock levels and eventually reclaim the Banjo-Kazooie duo’s homeland of Spiral Mountain.

I had a blast exploring the main world. It was filled with little secrets and mini-games. Lots of random people walked around or drove cars, so it felt like a real city. The graphics had a really nice style to them. They were slightly cartoony, with bright colors and exaggerated shapes, but still pretty realistic looking. There was a garage for building vehicles and a small test track/arena for testing them out.

Levels were really big open areas, all with their own theme. Several characters were around with challenges for Banjo and Kazooie to complete. Pretty much every challenge required a vehicle. The player could use the pre-made vehicles, but I found it much more fun to make my own vehicles. The game supported boats, cars, and planes. I didn’t have to learn about physics to make new vehicles. Combine a few engines with two wings, and the vehicle had lift for flying. Combine the engines with wheels, and the vehicle was a car. It was really simple, but almost every mission required a new vehicle catered to the mission’s particular tasks. This was, by far, the best part of the game.

Completing challenges awarded the jiggies to unlock later levels and challenges. Collecting stuff in video games has always been fun to me, as long as it’s not the sole activity. That was the only problem with Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. The story wasn’t really serious, so the only thing driving me to play was collecting more jiggies. After a while, I just got tired of doing challenges. I needed something else to keep me going. After a few years I came back and got all the jiggies, but the game still felt like it was missing something.

Nuts & Bolts wasn’t the perfect game, but I still had fun with it. The game also got me into the Banjo-Kazooie series. Microsoft released the original game through their Xbox Live Arcade service. I was able to play the original game to see what these games were all about. Nuts & Bolts was very different from the other Banjo-Kazooie games. It wasn’t a platformer. It was basically a sandbox vehicle creator with some challenges to give the player goals.

Fans of the original games were really disappointed when they found out Nuts & Bolts wasn’t a platformer. I was lucky to have not played the earlier games. There was nothing wrong with Nuts & Bolts really. It wasn’t very good as a Banjo-Kazooie game, but it was a fine game on its own. Platformer games had really lost their popularity by this time. I’m sure Microsoft was hesitant to fund that type of game, so Rare looked for other ways to use the Banjo-Kazooie name. They had probably already been working on the whole vehicle creation idea, only adding Banjo-Kazooie to it to hopefully increase the number of purchases of the game. I had a lot of fun though. It wasn’t the perfect game, but it was worth the time I put into it.

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