Sunday, 2 August 2015

Games I think get too much hate. 1: Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts.

Ok so today I am going to be talking about Banjo-Kazooie Nuts and Bolts and first things first to get this out of the way, I really like Nuts and Bolts in fact I think I would go as far as to say I love it. I know its a popular game to hate, it seems to attract an almost never ending stream of venom to the degree that it has become pretty much cool to hate on it. I can even understand some of this hate after all it is a sequel which is very different to its predecessors when most people really wanted more of the same. People also feel that some of the comments made in the games opening are kind of insulting to the fans of the original games but I don't really see it like that myself.

For me the opening with Banjo and Kazooie having gotten fat and out of shape is really kind of funny. I mean think about it. Most games with sequels are kind of like a TV show in which no matter what happens the status qua is always re-established at the end of a story or at the start of a new episode. Think about the Simpsons for example yes they go on a crazy adventure and become rich or adopt an elephant but most of these changes never last there universe always seems to default to a set state and the characters never really change or age. If you pick u a Mario game be it the first game or the most recent Mario looks more or less the same well apart from the difference in graphical fidelity at least. Nuts and Bolts with the whole fat joke basically was poking fun at this, instead of 6 years having passed in the real world but time having stood still in Banjo's world they decided to make a joke that since saving the world Banjo had sat around eating and doing nothing because there were no adventures to go on. It might not be the funniest joke in the world but it got a small laugh out of me and I think the hatters like to read to much in to it and are just looking for holes to pick. 

Then there is the whole point where a character in the game basically tells you that no one wants a platformer anymore they want to shoot things, people seemed to view this as the games producers saying ''look we know what's best for you, we will give you what we think is best and you can shut up and like it'' I never personally took it this way at all. I took it more as a comment on the state of the video game world and how it had changed. Growing up for me yeah sure there were games where you could shoot and kill aliens but there was so much more than that, cute platformers had been popular it had been cool to like Mario and sonic and before that there had been some weird games on the spectrum games where you would control a man who just wanted to hide from his wife, or a game where you controlled a music groups management, and even a game where you controlled a plumber trying to unblock pipes before they flooded with shit. Rare had been around a long time both as Rare and as Ultimate Play the Game they had seen this change they had felt it happen around them and this was simply them commenting on it. There is an argument made that it was Microsoft who forced rare to make Nuts and bolts a car based game as opposed to a traditional platformer but even if that's true than this still stands, it is someone or a group of writers within Rare making a point possibly even poking fun at those above them in control.

I think most of the backlash against the game is from people who simply just wanted more of the same and while I also would have been happy with more of the same I really like what we got. I remember playing Nuts and Bolts for the first time and really loving the building aspect to it. I would play it with my 6 year old daughter on my knee laughing and clapping to her it was a video game representation of the lego's she played with. She loved to build her own vehicles to watch me build them and to talk about what we could do, and how we could do it.

The vehicles can be built freely by the player from over 1,600 different components including body panels, engines, wheels, wings, propellers,weapons, fuel and ammo containers. Basically you are met with various challenges and you build the vehicle you think you need to succeed. There is no one right answer , the vehicle you build to do it might be very different from the one I build and this is half of the fun. The physics engine allows the vehicles to behave in relation to how they are built, the sense of weight is somewhat exaggerated but you know if you put more armour on a vehicle it will effect how it moves and if you don't remember to balance the weight on either side/end then its going to cause problems. You can construct vehicles can be paint them, then save them in order to use them latter or to come back to them and edit them. Your always unlocking new parts. So maybe you made a bike and it was fast but its too slippy in the way it handles to complete a new challenge, easy you load up your blue print for it and add the new high gripping wheels you found problem solved. There is a test track area provided so that if you make subtle changes to a vehicle you can test them out before attempting to really use it. One of my favourite things about the game though is that Players can also send and receive blueprints online, so if you have people on your friends list with the game and you think you have built the ultimate vehicle well you can send them it to play with.

Nowadays we are very used to games that have this sort of creativity but I think its important to note that this game launched before the likes of Minecraft got popular. Look at the way Minecraft has become this massive phenomenon this creative outlet which no one can get enough off, its seen as so much more than a game, its a game but its also one of the few electronic experiences that educational institutes such as schools feel like they can get behind and support because of the creative aspects of it. Yet when you look at Nuts and Bolts laid bare it had a lot of the same qualities. Maybe it was simply before its time. Maybe if it had come out a little latter or been made as its own stand alone without the Banjo name it would have fared better

Just look at Minecraft and the way it seemed to take over the whole world. The way it still remains popular and relevant to this day while other new titles fall by the wayside one after another. It seems to have attracted a whole new generation of players to its innovative open-world, sandbox styled gameplay, and inspired so many other games. Now we have things like the Little Big Planet series helping you to build your own levels, and kerbal space programme helping you build space ships to try and travel through deep space. All of these games being considered special both fun and to some degree creative and educational.

So why is Nuts and Bolts hated so much? Its only mistake was trying to pass itself off as a new Banjo-Kazooie game. If people had hated on it a little less and seen the positive side of it well then it could have achieved so much. It was offering some of the creativity that minecraft does before minecraft did. It could have been a creative force for good it could have brought more people to gaming but unfortunately some people just want to moan and complain about what they don't have instead of looking at the positives.

I will always enjoy Nuts and Bolts both as a game and as a part of a whole group of special moments of fun and laughter I got to share with my child. No matter what anyone says to me it is an underrated gem. hopefully with its inclusion on Rare Replay which is released in a few days it might reach a new audience.

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