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TGS 08: Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts sharing detailed: blueprints, replays (and bears!)

Many of us at Joystiq are still torn on Rare's upcoming Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, the build-a-bear's-car platformer heavy on vehicle creation. This morning's demo of the game at Xbox Tokyo, steered by Rare's Neill Harrison, once again reinforced our positive appraisal of the game's creative possibilities while leaving this writer as-yet-unconvinced of the game around the toy.

Preaching a message of replayability and open-endedness, Harrison detailed some of the game's "sharing" functionality: Blueprints and replays. Particularly cool vehicles can be shared amongst friends by "gifting" blueprints to them. Spent twelve hours making the absolute perfect jet/boat/car with detachable helicopter and torpedo attachments? Want to share it with Grandma? Gift it to her and go head-to-head in a multiplayer grudge match. Or challenge her to beat your best time in one of the game's Challenge Modes.

Gallery: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts | 15 Photos

Does Granny have some hot wheels you'd just as soon snag? Have Kazooie snap a pic in the game's "active lobby" – an interactive loading screen full of stuff to do and places to test your vehicles – and you'll immediately get a blueprint ... unless she's locked her creation. ("Kids these days don't want to work for anything," she says reproachfully.) Unfortunately, despite the game's close proximity to the launch of the New Xbox Experience, it looks like Nuts & Bolts won't support the console's new multiplayer eight-person "party system" – Harrison says the functionality just came in "too late" in the game's development cycle.

Eager to illustrate the game's open-ended approach to problem solving, Harrison took us into one of the game's pre-designed challenges (no level creation here): a concentric series of domino circles. The challenge: knock down as many dominoes with one move as you can. If your approach is good enough, you could make it onto the challenge's leaderboards, the top 20 of which will be available for replay viewing. Not clever enough to create a spaceship with four rockets acting as a spinning "top" pushing the dominoes down from the inside out? No worries – just check out the number one solution for the challenge, mentally copy the design (you won't be able to "nick" the blueprint from a replay) and try to improve upon it.

Our fear is that for any given challenge, we'll be seeing twenty variations of a single approach: A spinning rocket top with, get this, five rockets; a spinning rocket top that bounces; a spinning rocket top with ... you get the idea. And here's where Nuts & Bolts leaves us skeptical, albeit hopeful. Harrison acknowledged that, "The challenge has been building a world to support this level of openness," – like LittleBigPlanet before it, much of the attraction of Banjo's latest outing is seemingly dependent on the community's creativity and the game's ability to leverage it. Hearing tales of a "mechanical Godzilla" built by staffers at Rare made us increasingly confidant of the former, though we'll need to wait until we spend a lot more time with the actual game to be as confident of the latter.

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