Rare haven’t had the easiest of times. Microsoft bought up the company back in 2002 so they had a developer capable of delivering hits. Its original games for the 360 (Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero) were well received but not exactly blockbuster titles. Viva Piñata, whilst a critical success, failed to have the impact that had been hoped for.
Rare have tried to revive their great reputation with their latest title Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Using an existing IP may seem like an easy option, something low risk to generate sales of product to existing fans. A mere incremental sequel would always guarantee an element of success (some companies only exist because of this).
Appearances can be deceiving, whilst BK:NB is a sequel, it should be considered as more of a ‘spiritual sequel’. Granted the same characters are in the game and there are some very loose threads pulling the stories together but in terms of game play, the title is nothing like the earlier games in the series. In fact Rare seem to have invented their own genre.
The game has a elements of platforming, racing, adventure and …erm… Scrapheap Challenge. Game progression works essentially as a platformer. The game starts you in a ‘hub town’ where you have access to a number of levels as you complete tasks within these levels you unlock game items called Jiggies (which are essentially golden jigsaw pieces). Collect enough of these pieces and you unlock further levels and further gameworlds. You will also be given access to more of the hub town. As the game progresses you will collect in game currency, more items and also get to improve your abilities. This is all fairly standard for a platformer, especially if you think back to games like Super Mario 64. The key difference is what you actually do inside each level of the game.
Each game world will have a number of iterations (levels) each with its own challenges. Each level is shown as a door in the gameworld with a number above it. That number is the number of Jiggies you need to collect for the door to open. The first door will normally offer some quite straightforward challenges and as you progress through the doors the complexity can quickly increase.