1) The game started off life as a regular platformer.
"When we first started the game, it was going to be exactly that – sort of an HD version of Banjo-Kazooie, essentially," says Neil Harrison, lead technical animator on Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. "We worked on that for a little while, and it just felt very stale. As developers and game players it just didn't feel like the sort of game we wanted to make. Then we started experimenting to see what we could do to push the boundaries and evolve the genre a bit, and then we hit on this – this concept."
Above: Remember this teaser for 'Banjo Threeie'? Neil's right, it does look dull
2) Banjo's waaay out of shape.
To get around the switch in gameplay, the game is set in the present, so ten years have passed for the characters too since their N64 heyday. As a result, they've got too fat sitting down and eating pizza to go around collecting icons in the usual platforming manner. While the duo do get back into shape before the game starts, they must be glad of all those vehicles.
3) Banjo pushes the 360 but there's still room for more
"You can always get more from it," says Neil. "I mean, we try to push it quite hard and I think we are pushing it quite hard with our game. Certainly if we did things again or if we made a sequel, we would definitely squeeze some more out of it."
Above: Senior animator Elissa Miller and Lead Technical Animator Neil Harrison answered our questions with a little help from a friend... or should that be 'help from a little friend'?
4) You don't have unlimited creational power
The game's construction mode works to a 19x19x19 grid. For most gamers, this will be plenty and there obviously has to be some limit to the size of the vehicle you make, if only so you don't make it bigger than the game world. However, less satisfactorily, there have been limits imposed on how many of each part you can use. While the exact numbers haven't yet been finalised, you won't be able to make a vehicle out of 50 sets of rotor blades or 65 engines. Pity.
5) There are some jokes in Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts about Grabbed By The Ghoulies 2.
Expect to see references to plenty of games, thanks in no small part to the presence of the Pong-faced Lord of Games (LOG), who is responsible for designing the game's levels, as a test of our heroes' abilities. We like the idea - suddenly it's not so implausible to have platforms and pick-ups littered around a town.
While Neil and Elissa wouldn't be drawn on unannounced titles, Neil did say that while there were no plans at the moment for a sequel to Xbox's overlooked gem (our description, not his), nothing was out of the question. So Rare hasn't forgotten the game, even if you have. How we'd love a sequel. Imagine Mr Fiddlesworth's beard powered by 360...
6) Kazooie is a girl
OK, you probably knew that one.
7) Once you've built a vehicle and got into the game, you can still tinker with it.
While you can't add new blocks outside of the workshop, you can move around existing parts. This is going to be key when it comes to beating specific challenges.
8) Banjo isn't actually 'blocky' at all
It's been widely noted that the character models are very angular. This is to make the game look more in-keeping with its predecessors and, Neil tells us, was deliberately chosen to fit in with the 'man-made' appearance of the levels. But look closer and you'll see that the angles are rounded with thousands of extra polygons. So don't worry, it isn't going to look like an N64 title.
Above: The shot from the left is two years old, the shot from the right is from a recent build of Nuts & Bolts. Interesting that the 'angular' look was in place right from the start. But neither looks basic, we're sure you'll agree.
9) The game often pits you against the physics, not the level
While the levels have been designed with many obstacles to overcome through clever design, some tasks require you to beat the game's physics system and little else. For instance, you have to transport a bomb from A to B near the beginning, and the challenge is in keeping it in your trolley as opposed to weaving through tricky environments with the shortest line.
The most fun we had with the physics engine was in the multiplayer mode's Sumo battle, where you have to knock your opponents off a platform using the weight of your vehicle and any special abilities it has. The default ones features springs... basically mimicking the best designs from Robot Wars. But we found out that if you hang onto the edge of the ring with two wheels, it still counts as seconds in the ring. Keep that one under your cap, eh?
Above: The football multiplayer game wasn't as fun as it should have been as it got stuck in a corner with neither team agreeing to yield possession
Check out the latest screenshots here, or read our latest preview of the game.
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