‘Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts’ is a plague on the video game world
(Xbox 360 Review)
By Ezra Mann (Editor in Spoof)

(These articles have also been published at www.fuelltothefire.com and soon at www.b-scared.com

It’s really sad when that one really abysmal offering in the electronic entertainment market comes along. Ok, they happen all the time, but each pain in the tuchas does not make it easier when the suffering has to start all over again.
I did not hold very high hopes for a game that featured a bird and a bear as main characters, but I was at least interested in trying something outside of my favorites in the RPG and party game genres. Unfortunately, I was to be let down and hard with an offering from Rare that both frustrated and disappointed me to the point where I just couldn’t play it anymore. “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts” was a half rushed effort that really should have been thought about more before tossing out into the market.
Now to be fair, not every aspect of this game equals suck, because plain walking around as well as jumping or attacking on foot works perfectly fine. Where the failing really rubs salt into the wound is that this game depends so heavily on the use of vehicles and mucks up the controls you use to operate them.
The story centers on the ongoing rivalry of sorts between Banjo and Kazooie with their arch nemesis Gruntilda. It might just be another dimwitted struggle with the witch if it weren’t for a new character’s arrival, L.O.G. (Lord of Games), who has taken it upon himself to settle the feud once and for all by plucking them and placing them in a manufactured universe. In these gaming worlds you must collect jiggies (puzzle pieces) to unlock new areas and compete against your old foe to become the ultimate victor.
I usually have a high annoyance threshold when it comes to games, but even I have a breaking point and it just seemed to happen more frequently the longer I played. As soon as I would complete one challenge and take a moment to calm down, another challenge would about drive me to wits end, especially if I had to race or hurry in one of the vehicles.
Handling of the various ground vehicles just plain blew chunks because if you even slightly lost control in a timed challenge you’d almost certainly have to start over which really got under the skin if you messed up more than once. The only saving graces were that the environments were clean and well designed and there was a good bit of humor thrown in. It’s just not a game that encourages you to play through to the end.
There isn’t anything that should offend parents which makes this appropriate for all ages. It’s also something that I wouldn’t recommend as a buy and more of a rental only suitable for the most patient of gamers.
Perhaps a bit more development in the vehicle handling would have saved it for me, though it could have also used more spunk in the story as well. If you want a more stimulating offering from Rare stick to the classics such as Donkey Kong Country or one of Conker’s adventures. For a not so great time on the console “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts” earns a disappointing two out of six toggles.

‘Coraline’ could be the family movie to beat in 2009
By Ezra Mann
The art of claymation has always fascinated and amused since the first person took a bunch of pictures with a wad or two of clay. Some of the best examples came from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as well as “James and the Giant Peach” where children and those that grew up to become adults still are caught up in the magic.
Part of the genius behind those two cinematic masterpieces has again graced us with another tale that will both make your skin crawl and ignite the flames of imagination. Instead of a town of ghoulish fiends or a young boy with giant fruit (though circumstances do relate), this time we are mesmerized by a little girl who is trying to escape the world she is trapped in, despite the consequences. “Coraline” is everything a family movie should be and proves that good ideas still occasionally climb the Hollywood garbage heap to the silver screen.
The story focuses on Coraline (Dakota Fanning), a young girl who is bored and unsatisfied with the world provided in her new home by her parents (played by John Hodgman and Teri Hatcher). So, like most wee minds she wanders until her imagination leads her to a world she thinks is leagues better, only to discover things aren’t quite as pleasant as they can appear on the surface.
She discovers this dreamland where she can eat the best foods, dress in the finest clothes and even get replacement guardians who cater to her every whim at least until she discovers she does not want to stay in this universe. She must then struggle to stay with the reality she may not prefer, but her life depends on with help in places she does not expect. There is not a moment along the way that feels forced and the story keeps the audience glued until the credits roll.
The movie by itself is an instant classic, but feels even more real if one can see it in 3D. This is not only a movie that is safe to take your kids to, but one that will make you feel like a child again.
The supporting cast makes the audience like they are in a book and not a theater with each page more fantastic than the last. I highly recommend this as not only a must see, but a future must own. For entertainment that makes one feel they almost didn’t pay enough for the ticket, “Coraline” earns Five out of Five stitches.

Banjo-Kazooie images property of Microsoft and Rare. Coraline images property of Laika Entertainment.