Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

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Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts Game Cover.jpg
Official North American box art
Developer(s) Rare Ltd.
Publisher(s) Microsoft Game Studios
Designer(s) Gregg Mayles
Composer(s) Robin Beanland
Grant Kirkhope
David Clynick
Series Banjo-Kazooie
Engine modified Viva Piñata engine,[1] Havok (physics),[2] PathEngine
Platform(s) Xbox 360
Release date(s)
  • NA 11 November 2008
  • EU 14 November 2008[3]
  • AUS 20 November 2008[4]
  • JP 11 December 2008
Genre(s) Action-adventure, platformer, vehicle construction
Distribution DVD-DL

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is an action-adventure/vehicle construction/platformer video game developed by Rare and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was first announced at the X06 Media Briefing.[5] Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is the third installment in the Banjo-Kazooie series and takes place eight years after Banjo-Tooie. It is also the first game in the series released for a console unaffiliated with Nintendo, as it is exclusively available for the Xbox 360. The game was released in 2008.[3] Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts sold a total of 140,000 units by the end of 2008 in the US.[6] The game has also achieved "Platinum Hits" status,[7] which means it sold at least 400,000 units during its first nine months of release.[8] The game also surpassed 100,000 units in the United Kingdom.[9] In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.[10]

Plot[edit]

The game takes place following the conclusion of Banjo-Tooie, in which Gruntilda's body is destroyed by Banjo and Kazooie. Eight years have passed since Gruntilda's defeat. While Banjo and Kazooie are eating pizza, playing video games and listening to the radio,[11] they discover Gruntilda's detached head returning to Spiral Mountain. They are about to fight when they are stopped by the Lord of Games (L.O.G.), the creator of all video games. He attempts to settle the conflict between the two by devising a series of worlds and challenges. He uses his powers to give Gruntilda an artificial body and to restore the duo's physical fitness, but not their moves from previous games (on the grounds that they won't need them, justified in that he says that gamers these days "just want to shoot things", and that Kazooie asked L.O.G. to restore said moves, but he refused).

L.O.G. transports the characters to Showdown Town, his headquarters, and starts the contest. The winner would be set to own Spiral Mountain; the loser must endure eternal hardship at L.O.G.'s video game factory. While Banjo and Kazooie seek to win by completing the challenges, Gruntilda uses her powers and abilities to try to stop the duo. An army of mechanical Gruntbots also assist the witch in her goal. The game ends with Gruntilda and Banjo attempting to face a final duel when L.O.G. once again comes in to stop them. After L.O.G. sends Gruntilda off to toil away at his video game factory, he rewards Banjo and Kazooie by restoring their moves and giving them the deeds to Spiral Mountain. Gruntilda vows that bringing her to the factory was a mistake and that she will make her own video game.

Gameplay[edit]

The game primarily uses vehicles to transport Banjo and Kazooie around the six different worlds. According to game director Gregg Mayles, about 20 percent of the game retains traditional platforming elements, which include ledge grabbing and tightrope walking, while the remaining 80 percent of Nuts & Bolts involves the use of vehicles.[12] There are, no conventional "moves" for Banjo and Kazooie to use, apart from attacks Kazooie performs with her wrench.

Vehicles[edit]

Vehicles play a prominent role in the game, replacing the moves and transformations from the other games. The vehicles can be built freely by the player from over 1,600 different components available, such as body panels, engines, wheels, wings, propellers, fuel and weapons. The physics engine allows the vehicles to behave in relation to how they are built, although the sense of weight is somewhat exaggerated. Mumbo's Motors is where vehicles can be constructed, painted, edited, saved, loaded or tested at the "Test-o-Track" area. Humba Wumba also sells vehicle parts and blueprints of preset vehicles that become available for sale whenever a certain Jiggy total is reached. Players can also send and receive blueprints over Xbox LIVE.

Items[edit]

The original teaser trailer showed several gameplay elements from the previous games that are included in the game, including music notes, honeycombs, and jigsaw puzzle pieces ("Jiggies"). The Jiggies are among several golden objects that are collected to progress in the Banjo-Kazooie games and are once again used in Nuts & Bolts. In an edition of Scribes, Rare said that "the player will determine the difficulty level by how they approach the Jiggy tasks", hinting at what the game would offer.[13] It was eventually revealed that the challenge level of the tasks depends on which vehicle is chosen. The Jiggies are obtained by completing these challenges rather than collected as in previous games. Musical notes can be collected in Banjo-Kazooie in large amounts to unlock note doors, and were used in "Banjo-Tooie" and "Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge" to unlock new moves for Banjo and Kazooie. For Nuts & Bolts the notes are used as currency to buy parts and blueprints for vehicles. These notes can be won as the basic prize for completing each game world challenge. They are also scattered throughout the worlds and are offered as a prize in challenges at Showdown Town. A new item, tentatively called "Mumbo's magic wrench" was also revealed. It plays a significant role, as it is used to build and move objects via a yellow beam fired from the device. It is also used by Kazooie as a primary weapon for on-foot gameplay,to recall your vehicle if it gets lost, and to lift items through use of telekinesis. Honeycombs, however, cannot be collected to increase health and only appear as inert objects in a final challenge at Spiral Mountain. Health is represented by a singular honeycomb that gradually drains to reflect the character's condition and regenerates over time. If the honeycomb is completely emptied during a challenge game, the challenge is forfeited.

Abilities[edit]

Banjo and Kazooie walking on a tightrope.

Various abilities from Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie and Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge are unavailable in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. This approach was first mentioned in the 20 December edition of Rare's Scribes column, which stated, "Banjo and Kazooie haven't got many of the abilities that they used in previous games".[13] The ability introduced in Banjo-Tooie to split up Banjo and Kazooie as separate playable characters is unavailable in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. A previous Scribes mentioned that they "thought about using two different controllers" to account for the new abilities and all the old moves as well, but that a simpler system had been used for the game. It was eventually revealed that the approach involves using vehicles instead of the previous attack moves.

The in-game explanation is that the older abilities were forgotten by the duo; the cinematic sequences in the game show that Banjo and Kazooie lost most of their abilities when they became fat and lazy during their eight years of inactivity. When the Lord of Games sets up the rules for the contest, he refuses to restore Banjo and Kazooie's moves on the grounds that they won't need them. They are given back in the ending sequence, but can't be used in the game.

The player can disembark from a vehicle and explore the environment in a manner similar to that of the previous games. On foot the duo can grab ledges, swim underwater and perform basic jumps. The wrench can also be used as a weapon outside of the vehicle. Banjo and Kazooie have limited attack power and speed on foot at first, but the duo can upgrade their speed, stamina and strength by visiting a local Gym that Boggy earned from Mr. Fit.

Multiplayer[edit]

The idea of multiplayer options was first discussed at the Rare Witch Project, where Mayles said that there would be multiplayer capability in the game unlike that found in Banjo-Tooie. It was later revealed that multiplayer would be purely vehicle-based and that players would be able to take their custom-built vehicles to Xbox Live to compete in online races and activities.[14] One of the game modes is a variant of King of the Hill called "Queen of The Knoll". Another is "Sumo", where two players have to knock each other out of the arena.[15]

Levels[edit]

New hub world[edit]

On 31 December 2007, Gregg Mayles said, when asked whether there would be a new hub world, "YES - You've seen Grunty's Lair and Isle o' Hags, now get ready for "Conflagration Violent" (work this out and you'll have the answer to one of richjonny's questions)".[16] richjohnny is a poster on the Rare Witch Project who posted nine questions to Mayles.[17] On 13 May 2008, it was announced by Rare that Showdown Town would be the new hub world for Nuts & Bolts. The "Conflagration Violent" comment made in Scribes is an anagram of "Confrontation Village", which is a synonym for Showdown Town. It is reportedly 16 times larger than any other single area that Rare has created. Showdown Town was designed by Steve Malpass.

The center of the town houses the Lord of Game's factory, which dispenses "game globes" whenever a certain Jiggy total is reached. Placing the globes onto special stands activates the game's levels. Each level features a set of "acts", which are accessed by specific act doors in Showdown Town. The doors are initially closed and marked by the number of Jiggies required to open them. This method is similar to the note door and Jiggy system in the original Banjo-Kazooie, as well as the Jiggy system in Banjo-Tooie; each act door requires more Jiggies than the last. Each Jiggy extracted from the levels appears in "Jig-o-Vend" collection units scattered around Showdown Town. The player must vend the Jiggies and physically carry them over to the central "Jiggy Bank" device to affect the total of Jiggies. The town's police force attempts to stop the player from putting the Jiggies in the bank. If the police are successful, the player has to vend those Jiggies again.[18]

New levels[edit]

Two images were leaked on 11 May 2008, showing Banjo piloting and driving two mechanical vehicles: a plane and a boat. They also show an artificially created level called Nutty Acres. A sign above Banjo's plane has a drawn picture of Mumbo with a coconut and a metal nut for eyes.[19] A castle-like structure, a cityscape, and a desert beach were also revealed among the set of screenshots. A "volcano with double entendres" and an area with "inflatable sheep and polystyrene buildings" had also been mentioned by Rare.[20] The game consists of 15 different challenges throughout each of the levels, including bonus challenges in Showdown Town for a total of approximately 150 missions. The game was to feature six worlds, but only five exist in the final version.[21] All of the levels are purposefully designed to look artificial and appear to be inside a dome. The walls of the dome change to match the theme of each level. The levels each have their own opening sequences, which parody classic TV shows and play out like opening credits.

Returning levels[edit]

It was reported early in development that some of old levels in the previous Banjo-Kazooie games would be remade in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Mayles also said "There will be some levels remade, but not the way you would expect them".

Spiral Mountain, as shown in the teaser trailer, was the first returning level revealed. It makes its fifth appearance in the Banjo-Kazooie series, including Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge and Banjo-Pilot. It is where the game begins, but is also the sixth and final world. In the teaser trailer, Spiral Mountain is more cartoon-like than the previous games, and has different things added, such as more hills and areas. In the 20 December edition of Scribes a reply stated that the music in Spiral Mountain would be upbeat, like that in Banjo-Kazooie. Although Gruntilda does not appear in the trailer, Gruntilda's Lair can be seen past a slight fog in the distance. The moat around Spiral Mountain can be sparsely seen as well. Since the second game, there is no bridge connecting from the mountain to Gruntilda's Lair and is no longer accessible. However, it is revealed in the trailer that Spiral Mountain is a flat image painted onto a wooden set. In the 30 August edition of Scribes, a reply stated that "We've just copied the old level from the previous games and tried to tart it up a bit with some lens flares and lots of blowing grass, hopefully you won't notice."[22]

That edition of Scribes announced that Mad Monster Mansion would return. They also announced the return of Clanker, Mr. Patch, Weldar and the snowman from Freezeezy Peak, which led to the belief that the original levels these characters inhabited would return in some form.[20] It was later revealed that some classic characters like Mr. Patch would be involved in new levels like Nutty Acres, while other characters and elements, such as the snowman, appear in a game world called BanjoLand that is an amalgamation of previous levels in the Banjo-Kazooie series. BanjoLand also features the Rusty Bucket ship of Rusty Bucket Bay.[23]

The development team has stated that in tradition with previous games in the series, Nuts & Bolts would end with a trivia quiz.[12]

Development[edit]

Originally Rare had hinted at their intention of making a third Banjo-Kazooie game, referred to in the ending of Banjo-Tooie through character dialogue as Banjo-Threeie. Eurogamer magazine stated that the original team from the earlier Banjo-Kazooie games would be working on the new game. In a video interview, concept artist Ryan Stevenson said, "It's still gonna be the same characters, and it's still gonna be the same thing. It was just so many years ago that Banjo was around and we've got a lot of technology and a lot of new things to pour into that world. It's a game for all the people that appreciated the game years ago, and also for new people coming to the 360."[24]

The game was absent from the E3 2007 show floor. However, Peter Moore, the former Senior Vice President of IEB at Microsoft, stated in an interview that they could have shown games such as Banjo-Kazooie but they decided to focus more on games being released in 2007. Moore stated, however, that it would be included in next year's E3 line-up, implying that the game would be released in the third or fourth quarter of 2008. Microsoft Studios' vice president Phil Spencer wanted to reassure gamers that Banjo's Xbox 360 debut is very much in the right hands. He revealed: "Team sizes are so different now and we have more animators now than the full Banjo 1 team, but the key core team is really the same."[25]

Rare announced in an edition of their website's email-answering column, "Scribes", that they would release trailers and game screenshots when they feel the time is right. The 30 August edition of Scribes at the Rareware website announced that Banjo and Kazooie would both speak in the "gibberish" language the original games have been known for. The announcement stated "You'll be pleased to know that we have gone for the 'last-gen' option – no fancy speech for us!"[22] As of 17 October 2007, the game is still in designing stages.[26]

A podcast of 1UP Yours from the website 1UP.com stated that "A big Microsoft first-party title that has been in the works for a very long time, that people are very excited for, sounds like it's being canceled."[27] This led to the belief that Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts was the canceled title. However, Rare later announced that it had not been canceled.[27] As of 30 December 2007, the game "is more than halfway done."[28]

On 11 February 2008 in an interview with MTV.com's MTV Multiplayer blog, head of Microsoft Game Studios Shane Kim said "I’m super-excited about what they’re doing with ‘Banjo’. I think ‘Banjo’ is going to be a big hit for us this holiday". On 12 February 2008 Microsoft UK revealed to ComputerAndVideoGames.com that the game is "still on target" for a 2008 release. According to Rare's community manager George Kelion, posting on NeoGaf, "The game is scheduled for a holiday 2008 release - barring the coming of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, you should be playing Banjo 3 before the end of the year (providing you buy the game, that is)." Kelion went on to state that Banjo's creator, Gregg Mayles, is the lead designer on the game, and sought to calm the fear that it's going to be one for the kids. "I can assure you that we haven't been focused on four year-olds when creating the new Banjo game," he wrote. "We hope that you'll be pleasantly surprised with what we've cooked up." On 29 October, a demo version of the game was released through Xbox Live Marketplace. The development team consists of many Rare people that have previously worked on the Banjo-Kazooie series, including designers Gregg Mayles and Steve Malpass.[citation needed]

Initial concepts[edit]

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts was Rare's third idea in their plans to create a sequel to Banjo-Tooie. In an interview with Gregg Mayles, he said that the first idea was to create a remake of Banjo-Kazooie that would purport to be a direct port, but would feature extreme changes unexpectedly. For example, a massive queen termite would emerge from the termite hill in Mumbo's Mountain, causing Banjo to have to get oranges for Conga to throw at it. The second concept involved more traditional platforming, but with Gruntilda trying to follow Banjo and Kazooie around every world and replicating their moves in an effort to better them. The working title for the vehicle idea was Banjo-Buildie, but Mayles stated that it was too similar to the previous titles to have an impact.[29]

The team stated that they had attempted to make a straightforward sequel to Banjo-Tooie, but felt it was a "stale" method.[30] While the game was in early development, Mayles hinted at the new direction:

Furthermore in a recent interview former Rare musician Grant Kirkhope stated the game was initially a straight platformer that would heavily feature locations from the past games and that's where the idea to re-use the themes from the levels in the new soundtrack came from.

Stop 'N' Swop[edit]

On the subject of the notorious Stop 'N' Swop feature from the original game, Gregg Mayles said in a 2007 interview with Retro Gamer, "[…]I'm going to say nothing yet again, although we are considering revealing the truth somewhere in the third game, as some kind of anniversary treat." Similarly, Chris Sutherland commented, "For reasons I can't explain I doubt if all the details could ever be revealed on this, but in the meantime I guess you'll have to wait for the Xbox 360 game to see…"[31] Rare later announced that the original Banjo-Kazooie would be released through the Xbox Live Arcade and feature Stop 'N' Swop connectivity with Nuts & Bolts.

In the demo version of Nuts & Bolts Bottles offers a "Stop 'N' Swop Truth" for 6000 music notes. The Rare Witch Project extracted the demo's text string, which revealed that when Bottles is paid 6000 notes he says "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you, and we couldn't show that in a game with this rating. Put it out of your mind and think happy thoughts! Thanks for the notes!" The ice key can be seen inside a small alcove in BanjoLand. A picture of Banjo holding the pink egg can also be seen in the level, as well as a yellow egg marking on a rock wall. The level also features large fake Stop 'N' Swop eggs that contain inactive cube-shaped robots.

It was eventually revealed that the eggs and key in the XBLA Banjo-Kazooie unlock novelty vehicle parts in Nuts & Bolts.[32] An indentation in the shape of the ice key and drawings of the eggs appear in Showdown Town. When a Stop 'N' Swop item is collected in Banjo-Kazooie, a corresponding crate appears at the indentation and drawings. Banjo and Kazooie can take the crates to Mumbo to get the special vehicle parts.

Web-related promotion[edit]

The Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts teaser trailer, which was released online in September 2006, introduced Banjo and Kazooie with their new looks, trying to get past a mysterious door. The trailer concludes showing a wall that says "Banjo is back!" The teaser trailer features many gameplay elements that were used in the previous games such as Jigsaw pieces, musical notes, and honeycomb pieces. Although Gruntilda does not appear in the trailer her lair can be seen past a slight fog. Also the moat around Spiral Mountain seems to have disappeared.

Rare released a Christmas card on their website. A lot can be seen in the picture, such as Grunty's portrait on the wall, Banjo holding a crown or a Christmas ornament of some sort, Kazooie holding a wrapped item later revealed to be a magic wrench, a Small Ammo vehicle part, several Burger King toys for Viva Piñata, and a stocking that says "KI3". Another piñata can be seen wearing a wireless headset. The portrait of Gruntilda points to the fireplace containing her burning head.[33]

In late March 2008, Rare updated Banjo-Kazooie.com to a Silverlight-based page showing a spinning golden Jigsaw piece reflecting both a render of Banjo and the words "Coming Soon!" On 20 March Rare changed the image of Banjo to a silhouette of both Banjo and Kazooie. Rare stated that the site would be updated with new information "relatively soon".[34] "I really wouldn't base your ultimate judgements of the final Banjo model from what you've glimpsed on the teaser site if I were you," warned Kelion. "All shall be revealed in due course, not that long to wait now." Rare also stated that the Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts teaser site is not a hoax.

On 11 May 2008, supposed screenshots of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts were released.[19] Two days later the screenshots were later confirmed to be real by Rare and feature gameplay as well as character designs. The name of the game and some other details were also revealed.[35]

On 29 October 2008, a demo version of the game was released through Xbox Live Marketplace that includes a portion of Showdown Town and BanjoLand. The player has the ability to create vehicles, but not to paint them. Additionally, the demo allows for online play with pre-made or player-generated vehicles. Rare also held a pre-order promotion: by pre-ordering a copy of Nuts & Bolts, the purchasers would get a code card that allowed them to download the original Banjo-Kazooie from the Xbox Live Arcade free of charge.

On 6 March 2009, Rare posted a news item on their official website discussing downloadable content to be added to Nuts & Bolts, titled "L.O.G.'s Lost Challenges."[36] The expansion was further detailed in a trailer released by Rare.[37] It includes six new challenges, a new arena, more Klungo-related content, seven multiplayer modes and new achievements.

Music[edit]

The music is composed by Robin Beanland, Grant Kirkhope and Dave Clynick. The soundtrack is orchestrated, following in suit to Viva Piñata and Kameo: Elements of Power, and features both new arrangements of existing music from the series, and new pieces. The guitar version of the Banjo-Kazooie theme featured in Nuts & Bolts was first heard in Kameo. The music was performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Rare announced that the game's soundtrack would be released on Amazon.com on 30 June 2009. The soundtrack was released by the label Sumthing Else, which also released the soundtracks for Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero.[38]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 80.66%[39]
Metacritic 79/100[40]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A-[41]
Eurogamer 7/10[42]
Game Informer 8.5/10[43]
GameSpot 8.5/10[44]
GameSpy 4/5[45]
GamesRadar 8/10[46]
GameTrailers 6.7/10[47]
Giant Bomb 5/5[48]
IGN (US) 8.3/10[49]
(UK) 6.5/10[50]
VideoGamer.com 9/10[52]
Wired 5/10[51]

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts received generally favorable reviews. GiantBomb scored Nuts & Bolts a perfect 5 out of 5, praising its "enormous, well-rendered environments" and "classic Banjo themes" orchestrated in the musical score.[48] GiantBomb later announced Nuts & Bolts as their pick for the best Xbox 360-exclusive game of the year. GameSpot praised the variety of tools for customization and their mission application, in addition to the soundtrack.[44] IGN gave the game a score of 8.3/10, calling it well designed and full of replay value; the publication, however, went on to say that the online multiplayer seemed promising during development but did not deliver the experience they were looking for. Wired however, claiming the game should have stuck to its platforming roots. GameTrailers enjoyed the vehicle creation system, yet commenting on the lack of conventional platforming in the game, while also criticizing the lack of mission variety but praised its graphics and visual presentation. GameTrailers put it at #9 on their top 10 list of the worst sequels due to the differences compared to the original games.[53]

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts sold a total of 140,000 units by the end of 2008 in the US.[6] The game has also achieved "Platinum Hits" status,[7] which means it sold at least 400,000 units during its first nine months of release.[8] The game also surpassed 100,000 units in the United Kingdom.[9]

References[edit]

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