Gaddang it’s been a long freaking time..

And another three months or so pass before Matthew VanDevander writes his next blog post. I guess I’ve just been busy with college, or maybe it’s the fact that I changed my firefox homepage to ANGEL instead of my blog managing page. I’m betting it’s the second one. If I don’t really get the time to think about posting new blogs, how can I ever actually post new ones. I have to apologize every time I post a new blog it seems, because I’m so unreliable in terms of how often I do post them. I want to be more regular with them so that I can get some people to be interested in reading. I don’t want to disappoint someone who is reading my blog to the point of them just giving up on ever reading it again.

Well, since it has been so long, I guess that means that I had better supply the goods when it comes to this post, which definitely means some sort of lengthy rant or a review. Hmm… what about?

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

(quasi-review)

Well, I’ve been playing the new Banjo game for a few days now, and although I’m not quite far into it, (Only about the third world, which interestingly enough is the first world in the demo…hmmm) I think that I can safely give somewhat of an opinion about it now.

My first inclination after playing the demo was to hate the new game. After all, it wasn’t a real banjo game. They just took some wierd vehicle-based gameplay and slapped the banjo name on it after eight years to sell more copies. Those bastards. But after I played the demo a few more times, played the old N64 BK on Xbox Live Arcade, and had some time to delve into the juicy details of the vehicle building, I think my opinion has almost reversed itself. Almost.

The vehicle creation aspects of the new game are undeniably fun, and even if your vehicle controls like a turd half the time, it’s still fun to see something that you came up with…come to life, so to speak. The first time that I realized I could make a little “jetpak” out of basically a fuel tank, engine, and a propeller strapped together with a seat on top, well…it just made me smile a bit more than I expected.

For being what the average gamer today might consider a “kids game,” the vehicle creation tool is remarkably deep. By which I mean, it is way deeper than the creature creator in Spore. (Remember how they promised us things about how your creature would have a better chance of survival if you gave it longer legs and such.) It does actually matter that you build a vehicle that is well balanced, as cramming too much parts onto one side of a vehicle will quickly make a somersaulting hunk of junk.

The game does start out rather easy, but the difficulty ramps up strangely quick. Some missions are quite easy even later on, but some are more difficult than they should be. It’s a bit quirky overall in terms of the difficulty, but it’s forgivable considering as with all previous banjo games, you can kind of skip over certain jiggies and visit new worlds as soon as you open them up. Which brings me to another interesting aspect, the worlds seem to open up very quickly, almost too quickly if you ask me. After only 3 or four jiggies in a world, the next world opens up. However, the worlds also have several “acts” which only open up after you have collected the number of jiggies on the door. This means that you can revisit each world many times.

The whole act structure is quite a departure for the series, more closely resembling mario 64 than the “reward your exploration” banjo series. Among most of the other aspects of the new game, this is somewhat of a moot difference. Obviously the new game features completely different gameplay than the previous entries in the series, as all of Kazooie’s trademark moves have been whisked away and replaced with vehicle components. Most fanatics of previous entries in the series, who consider the original games to be untouchable pieces of gold, will be extremely off-put by the new game. However, from my experience, this is only the initial wave, and once you get over your hurdle of disgust that the game is actually something new, you begin to appreciate it as it’s own gem.

And it certainly is a gem, and not a piece of crap as some people may tell you. I have begun to wonder about many of the complaints I have seen reviewers make about the new game. After playing the original BK on XBLA, I realized something very important. IF THIS NEW GAME WAS LIKE THE PREVIOUS ONES, I WOULD BE VERY VERY BORED. Banjo-Kazooie featured a very distinctive gameplay, but unfortunately, this gameplay does not give over well to many self-similar sequels, unlike the mario series which has basically just been the same game over and over again with different power-ups for the past 20 years. Even Banjo-Tooie had to cut out some of the moves from the duo to add new gameplay elements. (This is if I am not mistaken.) But essentially, Banjo-Tooie was the same game as Kazooie, with some extra wonky elements tacked on, almost all requiring the usage of special in-game pads, since there was functionally no way to add new moves to the controller since almost every button combination had been used.

So, the point I’m trying to make, is that regardless of whether or not this new Banjo game was initially concieved as a “Banjo-Threeie,” (Which, as far as I know, it wasn’t.) the game is not something that should simply be overlooked. If you have a hint of desire for another entry in the classic series, the game is certainly worth checking out, and for the price, (a measly $40) it might be worth your buck. I will be truthful, if  you are looking for “Banjo-Threeie,” you will certainly be disappointed, as this is not really a banjo game, because the very specific banjo-kazooie gameplay style is not here. However, you will find oodles of all the other things that made banjo great, namely the witty writing and in-jokes. Heck, even Rare makes fun of how the game is a departure for the series. In Mumbo’s shop, if you look at a certain part, Mumbo says, “Add or else vehicle sink like this game at retail.”

Well, anyways…I can’t think of anything else in particular to say. But if you played the old games, there’s certainly plenty to like in the new game. Unfortunately, there’s also plenty to dislike, but if you can keep an open mind, you’ll certainly enjoy revisiting the old bear and bird.

Preliminary Review

8/10

Not quite the Banjo-Threeie that Grunty promised, but its certainly worth your time, and please don’t judge the game based on the demo.

Well, until next time folks…and hopefully next time will be rather soon.

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