A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
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?
- Platforms: Xbox 360
- Subjects: Hobbies: building
Science: engineering, electricity, physics
- Skills: Tech Skills: digital creation
Self-Direction: achieving goals, set objectives
Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, hypothesis-testing, logic
Creativity: developing novel solutions, imagination, making new creations
- Price: $39.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Microsoft
- Release date: November 11, 2008
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Comic Mischief, Cartoon Violence
For kids who love tinkering around with cars
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.