Interviews

Happy Birthday Banjo!

Interview: Rare speaks on the 10th anniversary

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I think Nuts 'N Bolts is a conventional game, it's a Banjo game, but there are a lot of other aspects of entertainment that are being overlooked on consoles these days that other people, outside hardcore game players would find very appealing. There's an amazing amount of time people spend on things like Facebook and the like which is essentially a forum with photos. There's a long way to go.

Do you think Banjo, Viva Piņata and Scene It? are enough to bring in the mass market?

Betteridge No. I don't think anybody will say that, but they're steps along the on-going path. This is an on-going initiative, I suppose.

I think this genre needs a Halo, in terms of replayability. That's what we're trying to put into Nuts 'N Bolts. We can't just build a hi-def version of Banjo and think that that's the Halo of this generation. We need to add something more to it. There hasn't been a platform game sell 10 million, that's not been done since perhaps Donkey Kong Country.

We were really impressed by the flexibility of the vehicle creation in Nuts 'N Bolts. Has anyone really surprised you with their Nuts 'N Bolts creation?

Betteridge: Yeah. The Mechanical Godzilla that breaths fire and has laser eyes was unexpected.

Cousins: The best thing is it works - it functions perfectly well. There were two versions of it; one that's got a load of springs on its feat and it just bounces, and there's one that's actually got wheels and it drives - albeit very slowly.

Did you ever think of taking the creation side further, and doing LittleBigPlanet-style 'make your own levels'?

Betteridge: It's obviously been a lot of work to get this type of sandbox gameplay all working and functioning correctly. It is the first step, yes. It isn't the final step. It's the first step that's able to be built upon and expanded upon. There are certainly a few style of games that would benefit from that style of gameplay.

I said earlier on in Halo you could even take your own Warthog and customise it, build a bigger one with more soldiers in the back, or one with bigger wheels that can go across different terrain. Here we've got the basic building blocks of the sandbox experience.

The community and creation-sharing features sound exciting. How are you regulating that? What's stopping someone sticking a massive, drivable cock on Xbox Live?

Cousins: Nothing. (laughs) Maturity, of which there is none. If people have got the parental control set up on their Xbox, they won't get matched up with those people.

Where's next for the Banjo franchise?

Betteridge We could position Banjo in other games that aren't necessarily "behemoths" in the way that this took four years to make. Banjo is a mascot character that we could use in different ways on the 360 where Master Chief wouldn't be appropriate. That can help expand the market and establish Banjo as a character. It's a proven character that's had success all around the world.

We've got a lot of ideas on where to take him forward, some of them maybe less game conventional than you'd expect. I think this is a nice springboard platform, we've taken what is a Banjo game and added a new twist that's added depth and new types of gameplay to this genre.

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