Rare's upcoming vehicular platformer is full of humor, charm, and jiggies, which you can collect. With all the parts and blueprints that you can collect from the single-player campaign, you can build your dream machine to go head-to-head with opponents online. At a recent Banjo-Kazooie event in San Francisco, we played several matches with the team members from Rare to see what kinds of tricks they had up their sleeves.
Over Xbox Live, we were able to get a group of six players to check out a handful of the 27 multiplayer games that will be available with Nuts & Bolts. We started off with football (not the American one) in the Jiggoseum, where we had to use our vehicles to push different-colored balls into our respective zones for points. In the first match we played, we all used a preset vehicle so that it would be more or less fair. It's a bit tricky to push a monster-sized soccer ball around with a car that has a very small two-prong fork at the front. Increases in speed and sharp turns make the ball fall out of your mechanical hands. If you want to do well in this match, you'll need to have a bigger vehicle, preferably with a much larger claw to scoop and push the balls into your own goal.
After the match, we went into our test track where you can share your blueprints. Friends can come up to you to take a picture of your vehicle, and they'll automatically get the blueprint of your creation as long as it's unlocked. It's fast and easy to share blueprints, with which you can do a variety of things. Because we didn't have any fancy blueprints, we snagged a picture of another vehicle from one of the Rare folks, which was a much larger version than the preset vehicle and perfect for pushing balls around. However, once we started the match, an even larger contraption showed up--complete with weapons--which made our seemingly perfect scoop machine painfully inadequate. This monster creation was big enough to scoop up our vehicle, as well as the two balls we had in our possession, and push us right into its goal--all the while firing ammo into our backs.
It was clear that custom vehicles are a must, but then, you have to guess what your opponents are going to use. After each match, we were all able to go into our test track again and hit up the motor shop where we could tweak our creations before the next round. The next game we played was called Boaty Banjo Brawl. We were placed in a water-filled arena with our own pirate ships, and the goal was to take out our opponents using our starboard cannons, as well as other gizmos packed in the back and front of our ship. Obstacles were floating around the arena that would damage our ship if we got too close to them. Leaving the marked zone would also destroy your ship, so we had to make sure we weren't drifting too far from the action. Maneuvering boats was entirely different from maneuvering vehicles, and when we got to the match where we could use any boat we wanted, there was a variety of ships, so it was difficult to tell what kind of vessel would be useful in this situation.
The last game we had a chance to play was Sumo, where the goal is to stay on the platform as long as you can because your point total will continue to rise as long as you're there. This mode is a lot of fun because you're just shoving your opponents back and forth, trying to push off whoever is in the lead. Even though it is every vehicle for itself, sometimes it's worth going over the edge with whoever is in the lead--it's a matter of principle. Because the match takes place on a platform, if you do fall off, all you have to do is drive up the ramp again at full speed and try to plow through anyone still up there. There were a lot of rollovers and tangled vehicles, but it was incredibly entertaining.
We played through only three of the 27 multiplayer challenges, which are split into 14 sports-related games and 13 racing games. There seems to be a lot of variety so that you can make good use of the parts you've collected in the single-player campaign. We look forward to seeing exactly what Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts has in store for us when it becomes available on November 11.