Q&A: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts Vehicle Creator

We caught up with Rare to talk about its upcoming platforming racer and why the studio has gone down the user-generated path for Banjo's next-gen debut.

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The last time we saw Banjo, Kazooie, and company on home consoles was on the Nintendo 64 way back in 2000. After spending eight long years in the blissful sun under Spiral Mountain, two of Rare's most-loved mascots are back and making their first appearance on the Xbox 360.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Rare's platformer-cum-user-generated-vehicle experience, is racing towards a pre-holiday-season release this year. We sat down with the game's lead technical artist, Neill Harrison, and senior animator Elissa Miller at a recent event in London to talk about some of the wacky racers that Nuts & Bolts will let you build.

GameSpot UK: What prompted the team to have a different shift for this game and go for a user-generated style?

Neill Harrison: We wanted to make another Banjo-Kazooie game, and we actually started doing what people would probably have expected, just a high-def platforming game, and we worked on that for a while and it just felt, as both developers and players of games, a little bit stale and we didn't want to do that...why are we doing the same thing as we were 10 years ago when we could do so much more on the 360? I guess the user-generated thing just came from the fact that traditionally you're given a very complicated challenge but only with a linear solution; that is, to do the level exactly as the designer intended--jump here, grab there, and so on. We didn't want to do that. We wanted it to be a different experience for different people, and that's kind of where the vehicles came in by giving the player the ability to make their own.

GSUK: Presumably you've been developing it for quite a long time. Do you think that users' expectations have changed when it comes to platformers (for example, LittleBigPlanet)?

NH: There are a lot of other people trying to get away from traditional platforming. Platforming originally was the genre of computer games, but it did peak in the '90s, and since then, maybe, I think the sales of platforming has dropped down a little bit because of new genres coming in, but we didn't want to do the same thing again, basically.

GSUK: What kind of audience are you trying to attract to Nuts & Bolts?

Elissa Miller: Really broad. We're hoping it appeals to new gamers and that the old [Banjo] gamers will come on board, and in regards to demographics you can see that with the progression of things it's very open to younger players, but then obviously with the vehicle editing and replayability then Nuts is going to appeal to hardcore gamers. We're just hoping...that it will be open to all sorts of people and all sorts of gamers really.

NH: Anyone really with an imagination who wants something different from a first-person shooter or a racing game. It's something unique, a new experience, just anyone who's open to trying it really.

GSUK: How did you strike the balance between satisfying experienced gamers and catering to beginners, especially with the vehicle editor which could be a bit overwhelming?

EM: With the progression of the game, the designers tried to balance that out. You're not overwhelmed with all these [vehicle] components. The hub world starts out really, really small and you're restricted to that area. As you progress through the different gameworlds you get more components and more places open up to you. We have the [vehicle] blueprints and main chassis and things like that. If you're not a hardcore gamer these things are really going to help.

GSUK: In multiplayer or single-player is there always an advantage to making custom-built (players' choice) vehicles as opposed to using the standard vehicles you unlock?

NH: I would say yes, almost certainly in single-player. The idea of multiplayer vehicles is for people who either aren't good enough to build their own vehicles or don't have time. There is something there for them to use, but if you were playing against better players who have built their own vehicles they'll almost certainly have an advantage over you. However, you can go up to a rival player in the multiplayer lobby and take a photo--press B and Kazooie will come out of the backpack and take a photo of their vehicle and that's then saved onto your account as a blueprint.

Another point to make is that with the replays, on a racing game for example, I could watch the best player in the world. I could watch exactly how he's done it, but it doesn't really help me because I'm not the best player in the world. I'm just not good enough at the game to take the [driving] lines that he's doing. With our game, what's good about it is your imagination and the idea that you've come up with. If you've got the best vehicle in the world I could copy that vehicle and that would almost put us on a level playing field again. The key is actually building the vehicle not necessarily using it, so that's quite important I think.

GSUK: What are some of the craziest vehicles you've seen? You were saying people have made TIE fighters?

NH: They've done all sorts of stuff. There was a space shuttle that someone built. They have all the fuel tanks and then when they take off they detach so you can fly up and then detach the fuel tanks and then flip out some wings to fly. People have built cool things like that--mainly just having fun building stuff. That shuttle is probably absolutely useless in most of the challenges in the game, but it was just great fun to play around with.

You can have great fun in the multiplayer; it's a bit like Wacky Races. We might all be in a race and we could be in completely different vehicles. You might be in a plane and I could be in a tank trying to shoot you out of the air. The sort of combinations you can get is pretty unique from other games because you are in control.

GSUK: The previous instalments in the Banjo series have been critically acclaimed. Do you feel a lot of pressure to live up to that expectation?

EM: I don't think so really. We just make a game that, designwise, we're really proud of and just hope that it's accepted and does really well. That's all you can do.

GSUK: Do you feel that this game has given Banjo a fresh lease on life?

EM: I think so. If people are accepting of it and the gaming experience then definitely there are so many more possibilities that we can push [the series] even further.

GSUK: Thanks for your time.

To find out more, read our recent hands on preview with Nuts & Bolts single-player mode.

Discussion

33 comments
gameaddict07
gameaddict07

theyve said nothing about story mode. just build and drive is kind of boaring.

webber55
webber55

will the other games come on xbox 360it would be great to se all of them

raverrozza
raverrozza

personally I think it looks like a fun game even though here in the UK its not gonna cost much less than full game price which is bull. The vehicle tools look like I could spend ages making crazy cars! But as for the fact of whether people want more platforming I certainly do. The games that I will always go back and play are all platformers. Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Mario 64, The Jak and Daxter Trilogy. Personally I think a great platformer never ages unlike a lot of genres which sadly don't stand the test of time.

why9090909090
why9090909090

dcmdream: Kind of harsh to already give a rating of average before the game is released don't you think? although it isn't following the same script that BK did for the n64, i'm sure this game will live up to its potential SteppinRazor: Yeah you get the first BK game free on xbl when you pre-order Nuts and Bolts My input, honestly, i'm looking forward to this game. When they said you can make a shuttle, or a TIE fighter, i mean that sold me right there, i always wanted a game that i could customize my vehicle to do whatever i want and look however i want it to look, even if he style is toned down for beginner gamers

Titanfan2083
Titanfan2083

The important thing is that Rare knows people want the platforming of the old series back but at the same time people sometimes may want something but it may not be the best thing for them. Whats important is that this is an enjoyable game and I think I can give Rare the benefit of the doubt.

dcmdream
dcmdream

Why? Why do these developers assume that the millions of Banjo fans don't want more platforming. That's what we loved about the first two and that's why they sold well. First they screw up Perfect Dark beyond belief, now this. Banjo fans want a platformer Rare and I'll will go on record to say that this game will not sell well after the reviews are around 6-6.5 Rare is not Rare anymore. too bad.

thoraxe5000
thoraxe5000

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

setonj18
setonj18

I kinda wish they would return to the old formula, but maybe this will be good

_SteppinRazor_
_SteppinRazor_

I heard that if you reserve this game, you get the original on xbla for free, sort of like pub games for Fable 2. Can anyone verify this? Thanks.

Shacrob
Shacrob

I was hoping another adventure...

YB30
YB30

@nezardm I'm totally with you on this. I loved the two platformers and when I first saw the promo spot they did ages ago I got excited all over again. Now that it's been revamped beyond recognition I doubt I'll buy it. I will give the demo a go but I think the 360 is crying out for a decent platformer... unless someone can suggest one for me???

nintendave86
nintendave86

OMG! This game is gonna be awesome! I have been waiting 8 long years for this and it's finally here! (nearly)

deathofaninja
deathofaninja

39.99 game. Can't resist.Especially being a huge Banjo fan.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Way pumped for this game, I hope it can hold up

nezardm
nezardm

Why do people always have to destroy everything that's good! people love banjo and kazooie as a platform and people want a platform sequel! not a new weird twist with nuts and bolts and some "new" "cool" trash that is "really" outstanding from other platforms/games,this is a total frustrating miss... Why change something that's good already when you know that your not capable of making it better.

NeonNinja
NeonNinja

Oh my God, I am so stoked for this game!

MikeK47
MikeK47

I'm looking forward to this game. Rare is awesome. There has been talk about how this game is too vehicle driven but I don't care. Rare will have my money until the end. Especially if all their title start as low as Viva Pinata has and Banjo will.

BringBackJeff
BringBackJeff

The response to the experienced/beginner player balance question made it seem as though the vehicle editor has the depth to satify an experienced gamer. If this is true I would have to say I am pretty optimistic about this game.

Coheeds_Avatar
Coheeds_Avatar

TheMonthlyDaily: "I just hope they use this as a hint to finally release the original two Banjos out on XBLA." I've heard nothing about Tooie, but they're giving out a code for Banjo Kazooie on XBLA when you preorder the game at participating locations. So, your wish has half been granted. Though I don't have any doubt Tooie will eventually make its way.

lost_cheeto
lost_cheeto

do i have to mess around with the vehicle creater right at the start or can i just play the game. Im interested in playing I just dont really want to create my own vehicles. Is there any premade i can just choose to use and play. I want to be able to jump right in at least at first to play. Then maybe later on mess with creating my own vehicles if i get bored.

TheMonthlyDaily
TheMonthlyDaily

I just hope they use this as a hint to finally release the original two Banjos out on XBLA. But I've already got this one pre-ordered. I'm just happy to have a platformer that isn't a crappy sequel in a long line (*COUGH*Crash and Spyro*COUGH*).

dragonfly110
dragonfly110

I can't wait for the new banjo! I have been waiting 8 years for this day!

majahret
majahret

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Lord_Pisces
Lord_Pisces

Looks promising. I just hope the vehicle creation doesn't dominate the entire game. I want some platforming in here too.

Kowpow
Kowpow

I was excited for a classic Banjo-Kazooie but now I'm even more excited :D

beanofengland
beanofengland

i don't mind that they've changed things around quite a bit, rare usually deliver the goods, well they used to anyway...

Chickensoup911
Chickensoup911

This actually seems to be turning out to be a pretty good game. I hope they release a demo before the game comes out.

W_Birkin
W_Birkin

hope it turns out good..

kbaily
kbaily

Too bad they went and made Banjo all fugly.