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Although traditionalists will balk at the move away from the series' roots, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts shows what a platforming game should be about - putting creativity and fun first. With fantastic self-deprecating humour that had me in stitches and an excellent and accessible vehicle creation tool, this is a game simply too good to miss.
Back from an eight year absence, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts sees the bear and bird combination wallowing in their early retirement, idly growing fat on pizza and playing old videogames - just like old heroes should. Their sojourn into idleness doesn't last long though with the appearance of the Lord of Games (LOG) whisking them away to Showdown Town, to do battle with their old arch-nemesis Grunthilda once again.
Once this scene-setting takes place you're let loose in the town and it soon dawned on me how huge the place was - it has to be one of the biggest hub-worlds I've ever played in a platforming game. The scale and depth of Showdown Town answers all the fanboy ravings that said Nuts and Bolts wouldn't have a hardcore platforming mechanic to it. Here you can jump up the ramshackle houses, balance across power lines and swim across watercourses to acquire a multitude of collectibles if your obsessive compulsive nature demands it.
The scale and depth of Showdown Town answers all the fanboy ravings.
But even before I got to this early stage the game won me over with its humour. Poking fun at itself and all of Rare's previous creations, the humour soon lashes out to the whole industry with the Frag Dolls and the Xbox360 itself being mercilessly aped for laughs. Not since the classic LucasArts adventure games have I found myself so entertained by just the text on the screen. Nuts & Bolts is simply a hilarious game.
After mastering the rather pathetic trolley Banjo is given for moving around it was time to enter one of the game worlds and it's here I found out how creative the game wants you to be. In each world you'll have a number of challenges to win yourself Jiggies (equivalent to Mario's Stars, which will open more game worlds to play in) and whilst most of these can be completed with a preset blueprint - the real deal lies in the vehicle creation tool. Once I got used to its methods the process of creating any bizarre or madcap machine was easily within my non-engineering mind. Making a racing car so overpowered with large engines and jets that flew out of control was far more fun that I thought it would be - almost as enjoyable as creating a unique solution to a challenge and passing it with flying colours.
Making a racing car so overpowered with large engines and jets that flew out of control was far more fun that I thought it would be.
The creation of these vehicles can be so addictive that it could easily swallow a huge amount of your gaming time - even if it is just to see a crazy or insane idea realised in a vehicle form that has no relevance to any challenge you're on. One whole play session ended up with me spending nearly two hours trying to make a vehicle powerful enough and fast enough to hit a shot putt across a stadium. Sounds barmy. And it is - but boy was I having fun!
The only downside comes from the amount of challenges needed to reach the final encounter with Grunthilda. Even if you are blessed with a dearth of creative talent (which I'm not) it's easy to find the latter half of the game a little repetitive. But even this is compensated for by the devilish humour and there's no doubt that I've had more fun with this game than I have with any other for a long, long time.
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