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4 Reviews

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

It's unquestionably Rare's best game in years, but is it the Banjo sequel we've been waiting for?

There comes a time in every gamer's life where we have to admit to feeling old. And this is mine: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts isn't made for the same audience who grew up with the original N64 games. In fact, the people it will appeal to most probably weren't even born when those games came out. Sigh.

This isn't so much a sequel as a complete reboot of the franchise. In fact Rare's legendary double act does very little platforming this time around. Robbed of their abilities, they have to build rickety vehicles out of various bits and pieces, using them to complete some extremely silly, but admittedly fun, mini-games.

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For anyone who loved the original Banjo-Kazooie games, the first couple of hours of Nuts & Bolts can be quite hard
to take. The extremely funny intro sequence goes to great lengths to convince us why another collect 'em up platforming game would be dull, but that's actually the first thing you want to do when arriving in the beautiful game world of Showdown Town.

Initially, we'd have much preferred to just run around exploring rather than jump in a shoddily constructed shopping cart. Don't get us wrong, there's certainly the option to travel by foot, but there's not much point in doing that. You see, although he's adorable to look at, Banjo is pretty slow and cumbersome. And it soon becomes crystal clear, that getting around in this game is all about the vehicles!

Once Rare has finally prodded you into leaving your old ways behind, the fun really begins. Mumbo Jumbo's garage can be accessed at any time and it couldn't be much simpler to create your first vehicle. The customisation system is based on LEGO-style construction blocks which you can rotate in any direction and piece together with a single button press.

Build your own vehicle
Four wheels, an engine and a body frame are all you get to start your adventure with. However, after finishing the first few challenges, the possibilities really open up. There are hovercraft parts, wings, rocket boosters, floats, giant springs and even grenade launchers for you to unlock. In fact, there are so many weird and wonderful gadgets for you to get to grips with that there's a genuine sense of excitement whenever you find another hidden Mumbo Jumbo crate.

You're not forced to tinker around with planes, space ships or strange rocket-powered unicycles, though. Many of the mini-games reward you with blueprints for pre-constructed default vehicles - usually the exact type required to complete the next set of missions.
That said, it is possible to complete a large part of the game without building a thing. But that's just lazy; to get the really good challenge scores and a position on the online leaderboards, you're going to have to put the hours in and come up with something that's truly outrageous.

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Futher encouragement, and one of the game's best features, is the ability to upload full replays to the leaderboard to show off your colourful creations. Unsurprisingly, most of the best scores and fastest times feature uncannily similar vehicles - four huge rocket boosters with a small set of wings on each side.

No matter how smart your vehicle is though, there's no getting away from the overly sensitive and twitchy driving system. In particular it seems overly difficult to build a speedy vehicle without an insanely twitchy turning circle. Admittedly, Banjo's inventions are intended to be a little ramshackle, but that's slim consolation when you're restarting the same race over and over.

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