Thursday, May 23, 2013
Grant Kirkhope -- Banjo-Kazooie N64 OST
Back in the Nintendo 64's heyday, which also coincided with my time in high school, one of my favorite daily activities was checking (the now mostly defunct) IGN64's news updates as soon as I got home. When IGN64 first announced Banjo Kazooie sometime in 1997, I couldn't wait to play it. The screenshots and artwork looked awesome. Though Banjo Kazooie ended up getting delayed until the summer of 1998, it was well worth the wait. The gameplay, characters, graphics, and even humor were and still are excellent, but for me, the longstanding legacy of Banjo Kazooie has been the music. I've still got it in my head fifteen years later. My brother recorded himself whistling some of it as his ringtone, and he's getting it stuck like a virus in strangers' heads to this day.
Banjo Kazooie features a couple dozen main themes, and each of the game's thirteen highly diverse worlds has one. The game's score was designed to be dynamic, and it changes subtly throughout each world, becoming more ambient when one dives underwater, loftier as one reaches greater heights, or creepier when one rounds the wrong corner. As such, if one (I keep saying one...how about a bunny trail? Excellent, I won't even close this parenthesis.
While the N64 was the party machine, featuring a ton of excellent mutli-player games to keep the player and his or her friends up all night, it also featured some intensely personal one-player experiences. The greatest of all of these is obviously The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but we'll get to that...in good time. Anyway, Banjo-Kazooie ranks quite high on the list of single-player N64 adventures, though its excellent sense of humor and variety also makes it a great game for spectators. The simple fact that you have a highly irritable, acrobatic bird in your backpack attests to this fact. I guess I'll close the parenthesis now.)
I don't remember what I was going to say before that parenthetical took over. It doesn't really matter. Banjo Kazooie is an imaginative, absorbing, and fun game. It allows the player to escape into an inviting fantasy world, and the soundtrack makes the trip oh so much more enjoyable.
Here's the music from Click Clock Wood, a level the player can visit during all four seasons. Every season features a new twist on the level's musical theme. It's pretty much the best thing ever. If you don't believe me, search for Click Clock Wood on Youtube and look at all the love that pops up.
If I could go back to visit my sixteen year old self, as he sits on his bed and plays this game, this is what I would do to him: