TGS 2008: Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts Updated Impressions

It's not just about the nuts and bolts: We sit with Rare and see what kind of crazy gadgets are in the upcoming platformer.

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TOKYO--Rare's taking platforming to new heights with Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, where you can build vehicles that fly, float, sink and fire torpedoes. We recently did a hands-on with Nuts & Bolts, but this time we sat in on a demo at Microsoft's Daitabashi office in Tokyo with a couple of members from Rare, Neil Harrison and Mark Betteridge. We got to see some of the later levels, as well as cool new gadgets that will make a difference when it comes to taking on the challenges. What Rare wanted was for players to have the freedom to play how they want by using their creativity and imagination.

Banjo was originally inspired over 10 years ago by Japanese culture, according to Betteridge, who is the studio manager. Large backpacks are common in Japan for younger children, so you'll notice that Banjo doesn't leave home without one--especially since Kazooie is in it. To progress through Nuts & Bolts, you'll travel through different worlds taking on challenges to collect jiggies. The more jiggies you collect, the more doors will open for you to explore. Showdown Town acts as your hub where you can deposit jiggies, buy parts, and upgrade your vehicles. Our demo focused on some of the different ways you could tackle certain challenges and proved that the possibilities are endless.

Banjo never goes anywhere without his trusty backpack.
Banjo never goes anywhere without his trusty backpack.

We were taken to a point later in the game where Banjo was still running around town in the shopping cart that you start off with. However, this time Banjo was able to go up steep ramps because he had upgraded tires. His cart can also act as a primitive boat, which came in handy when he needed to go from one end of the town to the other. As an example of the versatility of the cart, Harrison took Banjo across town and into the water. He was able to make Banjo's boat sink to get through the tunnel and activate a switch on the other side.

In one of the later levels, Banjo entered into a strange world that seemed to be easier to navigate with a helicopter. It felt as though we were a bug trying to fly through a dense jungle, especially with the mysterious music playing in the background. After tracking down the host character, who provided us with a challenge, Banjo accepted the garbage-collecting request, Intergalactic Binman. It seemed like an easy enough challenge, considering the goal is to just shove pieces of garbage into a gate. Harrison described his thought process on how to approach this garbage-pushing dilemma by starting off with a large bulldozer to shove that junk where it belongs. He attached two fans at the front in hopes that it would blow the garbage in the right direction, and his vehicle had a shovel to scoop up the trash. The problem with this contraption was that it ended up being very heavy and not very maneuverable. Harrison returned to his workshop and tweaked the bulldozer by adding another engine, a propeller, fuel, and a sticky ball. His intention was to equip that same bulldozer with a new mini-helicopter at the back that can detach with the push of a button. The sticky ball is a useful gadget later on in the game that acts as a magnet to anything it touches. This time things went a little more smoothly, but Grunty's minions kept getting in the way. To fix that problem, Harrison added torpedoes--which act like homing missiles--to his creation and beat the challenge, scoring his jiggy and a T.T. Trophy, which awards you an extra quarter-jiggy.

We were told that the top 20 replays will make it online so that the world can see how you solved a particular challenge in record time. (You can also take advantage of this and steal other people's ideas.) Rare showed us another level that had a circle of dominoes lined up with each row facing the center. You get only one shot to knock them all down, and unless you can hit them at once from all angles, there is no way you'd be able to get them all to topple. Harrison whipped out a vehicle that had four rockets attached to the corners and he slowly boosted his way into the center of the dominoes. He made sure he didn't touch anything since that would count as your one and only turn. Once he landed in the middle, he went in and edited his vehicle. During a level you can always modify but you can't add parts. He rotated the jets so that they were on their side in a clockwise direction. There were also fans in the middle so that once this thing took off, it started to spin and eventually blow over almost all of the dominoes. This goes to show that this game requires a bit more than just basic platforming and building skills. You are going to have to think outside the box to solve some of these challenges.

Nuts & Bolts looks like it will provide many hours of entertainment purely from a building standpoint. There are 28 multiplayer modes to enjoy where you are free to use whatever you can come up with. We can only imagine what kind of crazy rocket-powered vehicles people will create and look forward to building some of our own. Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts will be available on November 11, so be sure to check back soon for more coverage.

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