I'm almost always willing to take a chance on a vehicle game. While the genre giants F-Zero, Star Fox and Mario Kart often hog the spotlight there are, as with every genre, a few hidden gems just waiting to become cult classics, just look as SEGA All-Stars Racing. The question is, does Banjo-Kazooie Nuts and Bolts fall into that category? After all, it is a spin-off of the Banjo-Kazooie franchise and if Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing and SEGA All-Stars Racing has taught us anything it's that racing spin-offs have a tendency to be good. It definitely has the potential to be good, with Banjo Pilot preceding it and being very good (Contrary to popular belief). I mean, it has a story unlike most racing games (except Diddy Kong Racing). But still, compared to Diddy Kong Racing the plot is BARE BONES! Basically, since Banjo-Tooie Banjo and Kazooie have become really fat because they no longer need to fight Gruntilda although before Banjo-Kazooie the duo were in perfect shape even though before then they probably didn't have to fight Gruntilda. Plot holes aside, Gruntilda's head shows up looking for revenge and they are about to fight when the Lord of Games shows up out of nowhere and says they should settle this over some vehicular challenges. Why? Because the developers needed to come up with a decent excuse for the lack of platforming. Throughout the game the duo meet a whole host of incredibly shallow characters such as Piddles the Cat and Pikelet the Pig. Even returning favorites such as Mr. Patch and King Jingaling have had all their personality sucked out of them. Even Banjo, Kazooie and Gruntilda lack a lot of their personality. Anyway, the objective of the game is to complete a series of challenges in a vehicle across a series of worlds. Story is often seen as not an important part of most games, especially racing games, but this game is clearly aiming to compete with Diddy Kong Racing, which was also developed by Rare. Diddy Kong Racing style (Which this game is) games have slightly different expectations. They are a lot slower than other racing games so they can tell a more involved story with more in-depth characters. They use the plot to add meaning to the actual racing. But, I digress. Even Diddy Kong Racing's story was quite simple but it got away with it, and Nuts and Bolts could have too if the world building and characters were good. Even racing games with literally no plot such as Mario Kart still have personality because they have in-depth worlds and the characters each have a bit of personality. In those games, you don't notice the lack of story because of the amazing world building, especially in Mario Kart 8. Speaking of Mario Kart 8, I'm serious the world building is superb. Especially in the Tick Tock Clock remake where the gears actually move as you ride across them. Anyway, in Banjo-Kazooie Nuts and Bolts the World is so lacking in charm driving through the levels and reading dialogue feels just like dragging your face through a patch of stinging nettles. Every character, new and returning, feels completely lifeless and the attempts at humor are worse than the Zelda CDI games, and if you've played them, that means something. Both the worlds and plot feel extremely lacking in, well, EFFORT!!!
The best way I can demonstrate the complete lack of depth in the world is to just show you the vehicle unlocking process. Occasionally, when exploring the hub world you'll find a crate. You'll bring the crate to Mumbo, who owns a garage now, and after a few lines of boring dialogue you'll have the part. Also, none of the parts are creative or funny like in Mario Kart 8. I'm serious, it really is that bare bones. Unfortunately, the plot and world building aren't the only areas in which this game is lacking. This also has to be one of the dullest racing games in existence. It contains captivating gameplay such as driving to a character, sharing a few dull lines with the character and then completing a challenge which almost always can be boiled down to 'Drive from Point A to Point B'. You then repeat the process until you can return to the hub world and unlock the next world, where you do the exact same thing. No enemies, no bosses, no platforming and NO VARIETY. The closest comparison is the Monster Hunter series where you go to an area, find a character, get a mission, complete mission and return to the character to gain your reward. However, unlike Monster Hunter there's no variety to the objectives and the objectives are just driving between two places and not taking down gargantuan beasts or stealing the eggs from the nests from said beasts, taking away all the fun from Monster Hunter and leaving you with a bunch of Fetch Quests and Escort Missions that just aren't fun. It doesn't help that there's very little variety within the individual levels making it impossible to become familiar with anything because everything looks identical. Nutty Acres is just a large field of trees, LOGBOX 720 is just a room full of random circuitry and the Terrarium of Terror is just a bunch of indistinct vines. The best method is to just stay to the edge of the world and drive across the outside searching for objectives to avoid becoming lost in the heart of the level. However, this comes with its own set of problems as doing this makes it very easy to become permanently stuck on a ledge or to glitch out of bounds causing you to either fall forever or become stuck on a ledge of the outside of the area, both forcing you to reset your game just to keep playing. Also, the actual driving is the worst I've seen in a racing game to date. The game has no tutorial for the driving mechanics (Despite having a long and extremely drawn out one to explain the walking mechanics that are only used 10% of the time). After you've customized your vehicle you get to drive it but the vehicle is always very slow, no matter the parts used, probably to give you time to 'explore'. However, this makes the missions where you are being chased or are on a timer an absolute pain in the neck as the vehicle chugs along at its own pace, and you're smashing the acceleration button trying to go faster but the vehicle just won't speed up. As if it wasn't hard enough trying to work out where you need to go from incomprehensible mass of samey objects. Also, the customization. It's completely useless as your vehicle plays completely the same no matter what you do, making the customization completely cosmetic, which is bad because, as I said earlier, all the parts are completely dull and lifeless.. That is, unless you make a vehicle that's completely undrivable vehicle by just placing a seat with no wheels or place the wheels on the side, which is completely possible. These useless vehicles can be used to help drop through the floor as the lack of wheels makes the hit detection go weird, and if you're in the vehicle when it goes through, which you CAN be because of the lack of polish, you will have to reset your game. But if you're NOT in the vehicle when it falls, then you have to go through the long and tedious process of creating another one. What makes matters worse is how LONG it takes to make a vehicle. Every time you have to scroll through thousands of different options for each part, with only a very slight difference between each one. Also, the game never encourages you to use the new vehicle parts, so the vehicle you use at the very start of the game can be used to be most of the challenges. You could probably beat the game without changing your vehicle, as all the the vehicles are the same. Apart from in the missions where you're chased by something in which the thing you're chased by goes off screen for a second before teleporting right next to your vehicle, destroying all your progress. Not even the PRESENTATION is appealing. It's clearly trying to look like Mario Kart Wii, but while that game featured bright and colourful levels, well done lighting effects and well programmed character models, Banjo-Kazooie Nuts and Bolts feels like a cheap imitator. As with all Xbox games there's little colour variety within the actual levels, each having one colour that's used through out and every area has a washed out look, as if all creativity has been sucked out of it and there's not much detail here either, unlike Mario Kart Wii's abundance of little touches that gave the whole thing charm. It doesn't help that the characters are completely unexpressive too, and half of them are made of cheap polygons, especially Banjo. Also, as if the game wasn't bad enough already the audios not amazing either. I was never affected by the music in any way. Sure, it wasn't terrible, but it was forgettable at best. There's no reason for anyone to buy Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. There hasn't been a racing game this bad for a LONG time. I can't think of a single positive, I disliked it that much. I mean, if you'd bought a Nintendo Wii during this time you could have had Mario Kart Wii instead of this junk. Thank you for reading.