If you have ever played the original “Banjo-Kazooie” games, you know they were quite a treat to play. This series starred, as you can easily guess, two characters named Banjo and Kazooie, a delightful bear and bird team that worked together to accomplish all kinds of things, from collecting Jiggies and notes, to saving Jinjos, and defeating enemies, including the evil, rhyming witch Gruntilda that serves as the villain of the series. The main games of the series, “Banjo-Kazooie” and “Banjo-Tooie”, were a really great pair of games for the Nintendo 64. Even though they came out over ten years ago, I have still not grown bored of them, and I still count them as some of the top games ever made. But, as is far too common, series either end or turn bad. In the case of “B-K”, I wish it had ended. I really do. Because many years after the first two games were released, Rareware created another game on the XBox 360, a game that will forever be known in my mind as disappointment in tangible form. “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts”.
First, let me just say that this game, well, it’s not…it’s not a bad game, exactly. It can be fun. It is different. It can certainly be challenging. But, it is a terrible, terrible “Banjo-Kazooie” game. I mean it. Terrible, with a scoop of spiders on top. T-E-R-ribble. I won’t even mention the fact that the graphics, while good, are of a style that make our heroes look rather hideous, and why is Mumbo wearing overalls…and working as a mechanic, of all things?! I won’t even mention that there are barely any worlds now, and they are not very interesting. Or that the music doesn’t stand out to me whatsoever anymore. What I will mention is that this game has no soul. It’s like our delightful series found itself face-to-face with a Dementor from “Harry Potter” one day and did not make it away unscathed. This game is soulless, and that is why, even though it can be fun, it is a dirty, rotten, no good, “Banjo-Kazooie” game.
For one thing, the game in no way even resembles previous games of the series. The first two involved the teamwork of Banjo and Kazooie, where Kazooie could attack with her beak and shoot eggs, fly, and run up steep hills with her hardcore talons, while Banjo, I must admit, is not good for much else but toting Kazooie around and grabbing onto ledges. And not being as mean. But still. Now both characters are actually pretty useless. Kazooie carries around this magic wrench that can pick up stuff, and Banjo drives. They retain none of their previous skills whatsoever, except for walking. And even that they don’t need, as the game revolves entirely around vehicles, which also has no relation to the series. What, because Banjo got turned into a sentient van once, the series is all about cars now? I think not.
So the entire game, every bit of it, involves talking to a bunch of soulless versions of characters from the original two games, but devoid of any humor or personality like they used to have, and completing challenges with vehicles. While the vehicle idea can be fun, as you can not only use quite a variety, like cars, planes, boats, helicopters, which can jump and shoot and carry things, but you can also pretty much build anything you like, as well. This can be a fun concept, and I did like building some crazy vehicles and finding creative ways to win challenges. It just has no place in a “Banjo-Kazooie” game. They should have created a new series in which to use this idea. I wouldn’t have bought it, but there was no need to sacrifice our poor bear and bird. It doesn’t feel like a “Banjo-Kazooie” game in the slightest, when Grunty is driving all over the place, while I’m chasing her down with a tank. You can include music from the original games and have characters that look, on the outside, like familiar characters, but it is not a “Banjo-Kazooie” game. It just isn’t.
So I can’t say I hated every minute of this game. I did have fun, while at the same time being disappointed time and time again as characters I used to like demonstrated that all their charm and personality was indeed sucked from them. This game is just a soulless imposter, parading about with “Banjo-Kazooie” in the title. It’s a real shame, not so much that such a bad “B-K” game was made, but that this great series has this stain on its reputation now. “Still don’t like the vehicle-based gameplay?” asks LOG during a loading screen. The fact that you even had to ask, Rareware, means you know full well that fans wouldn’t be happy with the changes, so either make us an actually good “B-K” game or never make one again. I can’t stand to look at zombified “B-K” characters ever again.
Ducks and Bolts