Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

Christmas puts everyone into a spending frenzy, it’s most probably the first time this year that I have actually purchased a game (sans Xbox Live Arcade and World of Warcraft, which don’t count!)

I dived down to the stores far too close to Christmas, and stood in a queue of… well… just me (Got to love the obscure locations of Game stores), to grab a copy of Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts having read far too many reviews purporting it to be some sort of holy grail of gaming.

After a couple of days being hopelessly addicted to just a small fraction of the game, vehicle construction, I’m inclined to agree.

Nuts and Bolts takes a massive leap away from what you might fondly remember to be Banjo Kazooie and instead focusses on vehicle based gameplay in which you must build a variety of custom vehicles to overcome challenges.

I dived into the game expecting the vehicle construction system to be incredibly crippled or limited in scope and scale. I was catagorically wrong. Even the most simple compliment of vehicle parts with which you start were a source of several hours addiction and, as I acquired more parts, this quickly spiralled out of control as far more hours than I care to count slipped me by with me making no real progress in the game but still having fun.

Parts can be acquired in several ways, but my focus was around gathering those in the hub down. This isn’t made terribly easy from the outset due to some innaccessible areas that remain locked until you progress. However, I soon discovered the flying trolly physics glitch when trying to stack crates to boost me up to a new area. My thirst for parts became greater as I rampaged the lofty reaches of the town and used the trolly glitch to effortlessly levitate me over fences and onto rooftops.

I fondly remember a similar thing from Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 which I never personally played through, but always jumped in to help my fairer half by building and flying block ships to get from one planet to another. If you enjoyed the building element of Kingdom Hearts even slightly, that in Banjo Kazooie will blow your mind.

Vehicles can be absurdly big and complex, with construction limits far beyond any reasonable product of your imagination, they can fly, float, drive, bounce and hover although it’s fair to say that the flight physics leave much to be desired.

If you want to build a chinook with a drop-able jeep attached underneath, you can. If you want to turn that jeep into a big airlifting sticky ball, you can. If you want to build a tank, armed to the teeth, that flies from the power of a single, downwards facing jet engine… you can. You can even reconfigure and repair your vehicles in the field, moving rotors from the top to the rear to quickly change a flying machine into a driving one for example.

Construction is intuitive, you can easily rotate parts with the D-pad, position them with the left analogue stick, and move up or down a layer with the triggers. Everything but the layer you are working with is greyed out, and the highlighting of adjacent parts green, to indicate a join, shows through.

Once your construction phase is complete you can even slop some paint on, although this doesn’t give you the opportunity to paint away the slightly silly looking block finishes, changing the tinting of parts but never their detail.

As for the rest of the game? Well, I can’t yet say much, I’ve been so addicted to churning out hundreds of insane vehicles to utterly thrash the challenges that I’ve made little to no real progress. The important thing is that I’m having fun!

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