What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while this game's design and visual aesthetic makes it suitable for children, its sense of humor will be better appreciated by adults, who will likely have the experience necessary to understand the many references made to old television shows and games. Also note that developer Rare Ltd. calls out several of its past games in the story. One level even takes place inside a game console, with players running overtop spinning Banjo-Kazooie and Grabbed By the Ghoulies game discs. This game supports online competitive play. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play to children under 12 years of age.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- applying information
- developing novel solutions
- making new creations
- set objectives
- achieving goals
- digital creation
Engagement, Approach, Support
An exercise in daring design, with several truly inventive environments to explore. Kids will find building custom rides as compelling as playing with Lego building blocks.
This game will introduce kids to basic concepts to do with engineering and design. The powerful editor allows players to build a wide variety of vehicles from the ground up. A great way for kids to tinker and get creative.
The game provides guidance, but mostly lets kids experiment and figure things out on their own. Kids who want help will find plenty of user-made videos online.
What's it about?
It's been eight years since players last took control of Banjo the bear and Kazooie the bird, and they've become fat and lazy in the interim. However, the evil witch Gruntilda has returned, and she's promised to turn the duo's peaceful little patch of countryside into an urban development zone. What's more, an even more powerful nemesis -- the Pong-faced Lord of Games (a.k.a. LOG) -- has whisked both the witch and our heroes off to Showdown Town, a world in which Banjo and Kazooie will have to take part in a variety of games in order to bring down their foes. The twist is that most of the games in which our unlikely pair participates depend not on their dexterity or physical prowess, but rather the player's skill in designing and building his or her own vehicles. Players sort through the bits and pieces of machinery found during their travels to create cars, planes, boats, hovercraft, helicopters, motorbikes, and more, all with an aim to make the ideal vehicle for each of the game's challenges, which include checkpoint races, item collection events, and vehicle battles.
Is it any good?
Nuts & Bolts is an exercise in daring design. The game's makers have come up with half a dozen truly inventive environments to explore that must have seemed crazy on paper, including the inside of a game console and a giant plant enclosure filled with twisting vines called the Terrarium of Terror. What's more, they've taken the bold step of tearing down the so-called "fourth wall" -- the imaginary barrier separating the game world and the player. The story is written from the standpoint that all of the characters know that they are in a video game. A bold and strange move, but it works.
Meanwhile, players have been provided the means and opportunity to design their own vehicles from the ground up. Building a custom ride is a lot like playing with Lego building blocks: just snap together engines, seats, bits of chassis, and accessories until you're happy with the result. Creating the perfect vehicle takes time and might end up being a little frustrating for younger players (make sure to connect a fuel tank to your engine, or you won't be going anywhere), but it can prove enormously satisfying for those who put in enough time and effort. If you're looking for that rare game that lets you build rather than destroy (at least most of the time), Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is a good choice.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about their experience using the game's vehicle builder. Is it easy to use? What are some of the more imaginative vehicles you've built?
Have you tried experimenting by making the tallest, widest, smallest, or fastest vehicle you can? Are there any part types not included in the game that you think would make the vehicle builder even better?