Comebacks aren't easy. Just as with any form of media you're only popular when you're in people's faces, and Banjo and Kazooie have been out of the limelight for a long time. The last proper game to star the bear and bird duo hit the Nintendo 64 in 2001. Since then Nintendo has released the GameCube and Wii, Microsoft has entered the video game market and Rare is now part of Microsoft Game Studios. With so much change in the world of video games it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that Nuts & Bolts is a very different animal.
Things kick off with a very out of shape Banjo and Kazooie playing video games. They've been sat on their arses for so long that they're no longer the heroes they once were - with evil rhyming witch Gruntilda gone the pair had more or less taken early retirement. Of course, being a video game, two plump heroes isn't ideal, and it isn't long before Grunty (well, her head at least) hops into town. A storyline from this didn't seem all that forthcoming, but thankfully the Lord of Games (LOG) arrives to end the fight between our heroes and Grunty once and for all.
Being the creator of all video games he's able to transform Banjo and Kazooie back into peak condition and gives Grunty a body. Many typically Rare jokes later (we laughed out loud on more than one occasion as the self deprecating comments came thick and fast - poor Grabbed by the Ghoulies), LOG had fashioned a game world where vehicles are key to success and traditional platforming gameplay plays second fiddle. What we've got here is a hybrid racer/platformer/puzzler/flight sim/Meccano kit rolled into a colourful world only Rare could create.
Your hub in Nuts & Bolts is Showdown Town, a lively place where animals go about their business, rhinos repeatedly get in the way, Pigs (yes, the police force) harass you and things look very pretty indeed. LOG stands high up next to a colossal tower, overseeing everything. He also dispenses balls that activate new zones, which is your first port of call once you enter the town. In Showdown Town you're restricted to driving a fairly basic oversized shopping trolley (although this is upgraded over time), so you trundle up a massive winding slope in order to reach LOG, grab the ball (using the magic wrench that can pick up large objects and move them around), place it in your trolley and head back down into the town square.
Once the ball has been placed on the correct dome, a strange computer terminal structure rises from the ground and a series of doors are opened, giving you access to the first game world. Each game world has numerous acts, with each act containing a number of Jiggy Games. Complete a game within a certain time and you'll earn a Jiggy (a jigsaw piece), which you then need to claim from Jiggy dispensers back in Showdown Town, before throwing them on your trolley and driving over to the central Jiggy bank to safely add them to your total.
Jiggy Games always require you to use a vehicle, and the vehicles inside each game are very different to the trolley you use in Showdown Town. To begin with you'll be in a basic car that's got fairly slick tyres, racing to get to a certain location on the map within a certain time limit. Soon enough, though, you'll have access to planes, helicopters, boats and more, either as pre-made vehicles that LOG requires you to use or as user created vehicles that aren't likely to ever hit the production line. Challenges run the gambit from simple races from A to B, spraying hot items with cooling liquid and rounding up nuts, to delivering pizzas, turning on search lights and picking up NPCs in your multi-carriage taxi. Nuts & Bolts is an incredibly diverse gaming experience.
In order to build the cars required you'll need to the correct parts. These can be bought using the musical notes you've collected on your adventures (they are everywhere) or found in the many crates scattered about Showdown Town. It's this collection element that most resembles the Banjo games of old, with the bear jumping from rooftop to rooftop, climbing poles, walking tight ropes and operating machinery in order to get to the many awkwardly placed crates. It's well worth it though, with complex vehicle building being the most rewarding aspect of the game.