Forgot password?  |  Register  |    
User Name:     Password:    
Blog - Staff Blog   

An Underrated Gem of Last Gen

On 02/10/2015 at 12:23 AM by Casey Curran

See More From This User »

It's safe to say we won't see a great comeback from once great developer Rare. The company is now a shell of its former self, making Kinect games and avatar items while Microsoft hands Killer Instinct to another company. Which is a shame because their last game, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts not only stands as their most creative game, but may have been last gen's most underrated game.

And I get why people were turned off when they initially heard about the bear's new direction. I was too. I wanted a platformer. I still do want a platformer. But, I have to admit it, what we got was better than any 3D platformer Rare ever made. 

So what was Nuts and Bolts about instead? Building cars, boats, planes, hovercraft, and helicopters to complete missions. Rare said how they initially wanted to create a platformer, but ended up creating huge worlds that took a very long time to get around and implemented the vehicle creation to get around. One thing then led to another and a design shift had the game instead centered around this creation.

And I say this as someone who normally hates crafting and building in games: They hit it out of the fucking park. I only bought this game because I hoped that the vehicles were just a part and there was still plenty of platforming. Outside the hub world, I couldn't have been more wrong. All about your vehicles. I dreaded that the game would be built aroudn this, but I gave it a chance. 

What made this design choice work was how open ended it was. There was nothing more than giving you a goal for each mission and it's up to you to build the vehicle. There are blueprints, but these are more starting points than what will let you beat the game in the long run. They're still fully functional vehicles, but you will need to add and take away blocks to find success with many missions. 

It's a gorgeous game too.

And you have to actually learn how to build a great vehicle. There's no warning for if your vehicle will flop beyond an understanding of the game. You will build disfunctional, impractical, and just plain bad vehicles until you can get that right balance for the specific mission. Because some will need a specific vehicle which only works then. 

I still remember the part where I fell in love with this game. It was a mission where I had to protect a statue from suicide bombers trying to destroy it. I got excited, up for a good dogfight, but failed many times. Not even coming close. Thinking maybe I was approaching it wrong, I decided instead to create a vehicle with a giant turret and just fire it from there. More effective, but still didn't work.

Then I had a crazy idea. I built an incredibly impractical vehicle for the most part. It was just a giant trey with a bunch of wheels. It didn't move fast, it didn't turn fast, but it was big enough to hold the statue. I then put propellors EVERYWHERE and had them all facing up. If there was an inch available, it had a propellor. The vehicle couldn't move fast horizontally, but it could fly up pretty quick.

Starting the mission, I put the statue on the vehicle and just flew up. Not doing anything else, just flew up. And it worked perfectly. By the time I hit the top of the level, the time limit was almost up and the enemies hadn't touched me. I barely did anything, but it was so rewarding because I had to think in different ways.

That's what made Nuts and Bolts so brilliant. It just gave you tools and told you the rest was up to you. You create the vehicle, you decide how to complete the mission. Some missions were more rigid than others (racing's pretty straightforward), but the game was about letting the player be creative. The only limit was your imagination. And that's why I love this game.




02/10/2015 at 12:31 AM

I only played the demo, but thought it was pretty cool. After being unimpressed with the older Banjo games as far as platforming goes, I'm not even sure the change was all that bad of an idea.

Cary Woodham

02/10/2015 at 05:41 AM

When I did a blog about my favorite Xbox 360 games, Nuts & Bolts was 2nd place (Soul Calibur 4 and 5 were first, in case you were wondering).  While I think Rare just had a car building game and slapped on Banjo characters so it would sell, and I'd rather have a true Banjo 3-D platformer, what we got was brilliant.  It was fun, not tedious, to build vehicles, and the gameplay was fantastic.  My brother and his friends would just spend hours creating vehicles and testing them, and they made some pretty neat stuff.  Like a floating aircraft carrier complete with detachable flying plane!  I really don't understand why this game got so much hate.  If you just try it with an open mind, you'll have lots of fun!

Casey Curran Staff Writer

02/10/2015 at 06:25 PM

Actually, as I pointed out, Rare was making a Banjo game from the start, the cars were only implemented when they thought the levels were too big then decided to focus on them instead.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

02/10/2015 at 05:58 AM

i remember when this game came out.  seemed like a really neat concept.  not really my cup of tea, but sounds interesting.  I really respect them for making a game like this, and I've heard it's loads of fun.  I've never played any of the other games in the series though.  

Nick DiMola Director

02/10/2015 at 07:42 AM

I adore this game. Not usually one for "building" games, but they gave building stuff a purpose and they made it fun. I sat there making vehicles for hours on end - some for missions, some for the fun of it. While it certainly wasn't a proper Banjo-Kazooie game, I still love it for what it is.

Great write-up about the game, I couldn't agree more.


02/10/2015 at 10:11 AM

The game is really good. I bought it as soon as it was available and played it a lot at first. So did my son. I agree that it was incredibly underloved. Creating the right vehicle for the job was fun too.

I need to check and see if I still have it. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

02/10/2015 at 11:24 AM

That's too bad. Sounds like a fun game. Didn't know they had to do it that way because they made the worlds so big.


02/11/2015 at 03:44 AM

I played the demo but I think I didn't understand it. I'll have to give it another shot sometime.


04/16/2015 at 08:56 AM

that's very odd for it seems that some gaming websites and critics consider this one of the worst games in the series. one video web series considered it one of the worst failed sequels in gaming.

Log in to your PixlBit account in the bar above or join the site to leave a comment.