Nuts, bolts, it's all just thinly veiled euphemism for genitalia to me. If I were to be put off by thinly veiled euphemisms relating to rudeness, however, I'd never get to play new Rare games, would I? I was grateful I didn't let it put me off Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise
and I'm similarly grateful it didn't put me off heading down to Microsoft to see Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
The game is what Rare has described to me
as “an evolution of the platformer”, a blend of classic Banjo
gameplay with a heavy
emphasis on user-created content and vehicle-based play. Please note the heavy emphasis on the word heavy.
Before I got to playing the game (in particular the multi-player), I was shown a demo of the single-player game in action. It has a plot, which goes something like this: a rather cocky sort going by the name of Lord Of the Games (LOG) has been mixing it up, trying to bring about the ultimate showdown between Banjo and Grunti, his long-time witchy nemesis, to determine the fate of Spiral Mountain.
You kick things off in Showdown Town, the central hub of Nuts & Bolts
. This is the area of Nuts & Bolts
fans will feel most at home with. There's running, there's jumping, there's folk to talk to. There's also your first vehicle – a kind of shopping cart. The hub is where you'll gain access to the various different game worlds in which you'll have to complete the challenges set by LOG. To begin with, only a small part of the world is open to you but, as you progress, enhancements to your cart such as high-grip tires and floats for aquatic action will open up more territory to you.
Once you gain access to the game worlds you get the real meat to bite into. Upon arrival you'll be set a challenge. You'll then be shown a bit of a cut-scene adding a bit more detail to the task. Take notes, as this will give you clues as to what sort of vehicle you'll need. If you want to, you can use a pre-made vehicle - either from your own inventory, based on blueprints acquired throughout the game or one of LOG's choices. If you do opt to skip the act of creation, however, you'll be missing out on a huge great chunk of the game.
Heading down to Microsoft I knew about the vehicle editor, but I failed to grasp the full extent of it. The number of possible combinations is, frankly, ridiculous. You'll start with a reasonably limited number of parts to use, but as you progress you'll acquire more and more.
The editor uses a 3D grid system. You select a part, move it to where you want it and the editor will flash up an appropriate colour to tell you whether you can put it there. Parts range from your basic building blocks such as chunks of bodywork and seats to propellers to engines to jets to innumerable doodads I couldn't name such as giant vacuums.