Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts review

  • Most colorful game on 360
  • Rammed with experimental fun
  • Self-referential humor
  • Ridiculously overcomplicated
  • Too much collecting
  • Not really a Banjo game

Nuts & Bolts truly is the return of Rare. Enough with the papery menagerie, let’s get back to N64 basics: the wordplay, the self-deprecating humor (pops are taken at their own distastr-o-game Grabbed by the Ghoulies), the design philosophy that states ‘object + googly eyes = endearing thing’. And in a winter of bleak, dreary games, the lightness of touch is very, very welcome indeed.

Unfortunately, they’ve only gone and resurrected their bad habits, too. After a brilliantly knowing poke at the excesses of the ‘collect-a-thon’ genre, Rare ends up presenting their grandest collect-a-thon yet. “I’ll have to think of something original,” says the man in charge, the Lord of Games. So explain why we’re collecting jiggies, notes, jinjos, minjos, crates, blueprints, trophies, bingo tokens and giant world-unlocking orbs? Bah.

It takes us back to the golden OCD days of the N64 to see pages of empty statistics screens waiting to be filled out, but the elements are clumsily shoved together. Example: jiggies unlock new worlds. Fine. But not before you’ve won them, transported them between two banks, picked up the deposited orb and placed it on a plinth. We understand the whole contraption vibe, but in aiming for complex quirkiness the devs have landed at irritating over-complication.

The structure may be lumbering, but the game at the core is brilliantly realized, if not entirely a Banjo-Kazooie game as we know it. The nostalgia-tinted dialogue, reoccurring cameos and nods to past games are welcome (a Banjo museum level is a triumph – merging levels of Banjo-Kazooies yore into one massive bear-’n’-bird love-in), but mainly as there’s not even a hint of said games in Nuts & Bolts. So small is the onscreen double act, it’s sometimes hard to even recognize them.

So what is it? Characters give you challenges; you build vehicles to tackle them. Things seem arbitrary to begin with. Go-kart not winning a race? Slap another engine on. It goes faster. Sorted. Need to transport an antenna from low point A to high point B? Attach a carrying tray to a helicopter and airlift it. And so the jiggies roll in, you barrel along at a nice pace, all while admiring the ace physics that make tasks nightmarish in other games a snap.

Then you realize you’ve been playing it wrong. That domino rally task? Diving a heavy plane into it did the trick, but what if instead you build an almighty sky-wedge, lift it above with a helicopter tow bar and drop it in the centre to cause a tumbling chain reaction? And why build a tank to defend a statue when you can craft an enormous hollow box, shove propellers on the corners and land it over the thing to offer a protective shell. Suddenly you are Wacky Races’ Professor Pat Pending, building machines that split or transform at the press of a button.

You realize that winning the jiggy is only the start. Rare have actually supplied you with a massive physics laboratory: science-led user generated content, but with a precise objective to anchor it. Nuts & Bolts is the game equivalent of one of those human-powered flight competitions – you build a contraption and see if it works. Hell, that very task – fly off a ramp without an engine – is even included. Think inside the box and deal with momentum, gravity and aerodynamics. Or by all means, think outside the box and propel yourself with an extendable boxing glove. Film your attempts. Swap blue-prints. Compete online for high scores. Stomach the game padding to unlock new parts and get back to the drawing board. Rare are back, and they haven’t grown up one little bit. Thank the Lord of Games.

Nov 11, 2008

More Info

Release date: Nov 11 2008 - Xbox 360 (US)
Nov 14 2008 - Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Rare
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief
PEGI Rating:


  • Hurricrane - November 14, 2008 6:17 p.m.

    I think Microsoft kinda forced the Banjo liscense onto this game. Rare might have had something truly original going on here but MS decided to shit on originality and tacked on Banjo
  • Tikicobra - November 12, 2008 3:16 a.m.

    I agree that this really isn't a Banjo game. It's basically an entirely new game with a few Banjo characters and spiral mountain. As much as I love Banjo-Kazooie, I think it would have been best to introduce new characters for this game.
  • Gahmah - November 12, 2008 12:57 a.m.

    I kinda like honest collecting, unlike oblivillout quatres, where you collected one item after slogging through an area, or collecting conversations and listening uninteresting lazy bastards, as opposed to creepy humourous things like in this game and Zelda.
  • TyrannosaurusAlan - November 11, 2008 11:02 p.m.

    Rawr! Can't beat the classics.
  • DigitalPH33R - November 19, 2008 3:25 a.m.

    I find that this game is exremely addictive. If i need to go to the garage I can't stop thinking of all of the possible airplanes, cars, boats, and everything else. The only complaint is that the parts that i want and need are extremely hard to get.
  • Timothy_Lemon - November 18, 2008 11:51 a.m.

    i love this game. i can see what the reviewer means about overcomplication though but still brilliantly done. i got the code for the free xbla download of the original banjo with it though and i found i am playing that more. it takes you back :)
  • gronfors - November 15, 2008 3:24 a.m.

    I would have preferred them to just stick to the classic games.... This... just isn't the same..
  • Signofthezodiac - November 15, 2008 12:34 a.m.

    I miss the collecting cant beat the classic
  • Gourdmaster - November 12, 2008 2:09 a.m.

    What ever happened to straight up collecting.
  • FancyRat - November 11, 2008 11:58 p.m.

    Maybe I'm weird, but I miss collecting things. Also, that last paragraph sounds way, way too enthusiastic for an 8/10 score. Were the collection elements so utterly boring that they outweighed the apparently immense amount of fun you had protecting statues and flying without an engine?
  • garnsr - November 11, 2008 10:36 p.m.

    Hah, no one gets to claim to be before second here!
  • WBxRelentless - March 26, 2009 3:05 a.m.

    ok well i've only played the demo on xbox live marketplace and i got to admit the story mode is like a 3/10. but the multiplayer was a 10. all my friends say buy it. so why not? reCAPTCHA: age limits
  • GeneralJake - January 23, 2009 1:59 a.m.

    The opsesive car driving gets a little boring but, its still fun because you get to make your own customized vehicle for most of the time and thats what keeps it fun. You also get to FIND new parts to add to your vehicle to give you lots of veriety. I personaly like the mini games. I think it is a great way to keep it fresh because thay are always different. The online gameplay is also very interesting and fun because if you arn't finished the game you can use different part that you have'nt seen. It is as much fun as the real game and gameplay. This game is fun and interacive therefor I recemend this to anyone. :) General Jake over and out.

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