394: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

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JaySevenZero
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394: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Post by JaySevenZero » January 13th, 2019, 11:32 am

Here's where you can contribute your memories and opinions of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

Friendly reminder to all that where feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but self-editing (brevity) is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mainly reading. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

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Jobobonobo
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Re: 394: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Post by Jobobonobo » September 11th, 2019, 6:30 pm

When I initially heard that a Banjo-Kazooie title was coming to Xbox 360 back in the mid noughties I was ecstatic. The N64 Banjo titles are, to this day, among my favourite 3D platformers and seeing those characters and their fun, goofy worlds in HD sounded like a dream come true to me. Banjo-Threeie was finally happening! This was going to be the game that was going to sell the Xbox 360 to me.

And then, the official announcement happened. Vehicle creation, why?! I did not ask for this. I can understand going in this radical new direction if we were drowning in 3D platformers but in 2008, that genre was critically endangered, particularly of the collectathon variety and I desperately wanted to see those types of games make a comeback. Tooie had some ambitious ideas and mechanics that could have been refined further to produce a truly astonishing sequel and I always was a little resentful we never got to see what could have been.

But perhaps I was being unreasonable. Creating multiple solutions to get a single jiggy did sound interesting and maybe this could be just the thing to move the 3D platformer into new territory. I was going to ignore the naysayers and be cautiously optimistic. So luckily, my roommate had an Xbox 360 and being a Banjo fan himself went and bought it on release. I was having fun with the writing and it did look and sound lovely but the vehicle controls really did not gel with me. Being under a time limit to do a task while robots are literally breaking apart your machine and you are crashing all over the place was getting to be quite draining. I also remember quite a large number of missions involving racing or delivering items of some kind of another which was a bit disappointing. I get that it is a vehicle game but a bit more variety might have been nice. Lastly, I am just not the type to go create bits and bobs in order to progress through a game. I personally found the vehicle creation quite daunting and off-putting so eventually, I just gave up and stopped playing the game altogether.

For more creative types, I can totally understand that they will appreciate and love this game and indeed, Nuts and Bolts does have some very passionate supporters. But for me, this was just too different from what I wanted from a Banjo title and made me miss the golden age of 3D platforming more than ever.

Three word review: Not Banjo-Threeie

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Re: 394: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Post by KissMammal » September 11th, 2019, 8:27 pm

I have a lot of fond memories of Nuts & Bolts, which I consider to be a hidden, flawed gem of the XBox 360 library, and a game that was (somewhat) unfairly maligned for what it wasn’t, rather than appreciated for what it was.

When the game is at its best - with its freeform level design that encourages lateral thinking and genuine experimentation - its a hell of a lot of fun, and offers an experience unlike any other game out there, especially in 2007. Tinkering with the vehicle creation to modify an existing creation or create a bespoke vehicle for each given mission - a dragster that transforms into a fighter jet at the touch of a button, or a machine gun wielding racing boat, or even just making an apache gunship just for the hell of it, is immensely fun.

Where the game falls down however is in it’s unwieldy, overcomplicated structure and a UI that seems quite cumbersome and confusing. I remember it being quite a lot of work to get to grips with what I actually needed to be doing in the game. Its also arguably too slow to drip feed out the more interesting vehicle parts. It’s very possible that the game would have been much better served by doing away with the vestiges of its 3d platformer DNA - its sprawling hubworld, the multiple collectables, and going instead for a more stripped down, menu-driven interface that focused more on the vehicle creation aspects of the game.

Ultimately though I have a lot of affection for it, its hard to recommend a game that requires wading though 10 hours of gameplay to get to what I consider the good stuff.

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Re: 394: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Post by Magical_Isopod » October 21st, 2019, 1:20 am

I picked up Nuts and Bolts purely for this podcast, as an interesting experiment. I've never played the original Banjo games, so I thought I'd go into this one blind, as a non-fan, and evaluate it for what it was without the nostalgia goggles.

I come away from this game thinking it's quite the work of wasted potential. What struck me immediately was just how tutorial-heavy this game is - most of the first hour is spent explaining the game's mechanics, and it's really quite overwhelming. I felt myself saying to myself, multiple times, "Can you please stop talking and let me play the game?" It's really mired in these text-heavy explanations - it wants to tell, not show, and I found it to be a very frustrating experience.

The closest point of reference I can think of off-hand is Gran Turismo 5, which I played a few months back - again, my first game in its respective series. Gran Turismo is a much more complicated game than Nuts and Bolts, but instead of beating you over the head with tutorial, it gives you some simple steps to get into the driver's seat... And once you're there, it slowly reveals more information as you play and as you unlock more cars, options and modes. It was a much easier experience to get invested in.

What frustrates me the most about Nuts and Bolts, however, is just how much hard work was clearly put into this game. The graphics and art design still look great in late 2019 - I find a lot of games from around the 2006-2009 era generally haven't aged too well visually, but I must say I was legitimately wowed by Banjo's presentation value. Not only that, but the writing is pretty sharp, and every aspect of the game feels polished and high-quality. But it's all wasted because, ultimately... It's just a boring, overly complex building and driving game. I played this whilst renting Mario Odyssey, and while it's not really fair to compare a driving game to a very good modern platformer, it makes me consider what Nuts and Bolts COULD have been. The on-foot controls are tight enough that it could have been a good platformer. And, really, that's what it should have been.

I don't know who made the executive decision on this game, whether it was Microsoft or Rare or Tony Blair, but it was the wrong decision, and it leaves Nuts and Bolts with a massive asterisk. Who is this game for? I can only imagine it's a rare intersection of Banjo fans, Lego fans and driving game fans.

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Re: 394: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Post by KissMammal » October 25th, 2019, 11:01 pm

I've never been one for level creation games - I don't have the will or the patience for games like Minecraft or even Mario Maker, but I found the vehicle creation element of this game really fun.

The best example I can think of is a level in the game where the mission was to protect a statue from a swarm of flying enemies who were dropping bombs on it.

The method of achieving this was left up to the player - do you build a super capable fighter jet to take out the enemy fighters? Or how about a winged transporter to fly the statue away to safety? Or do you do what I did, and build what I can only describe as a kind of flying armoured sheath to drop over the top of the statue and then use the roof-mounted gun turret to take down the bombers?

Often my chosen strategies probably weren't optimal for the task at hand, but tinkering with the vehicle to eke out a victory was so much fun it didn't really matter.

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