Friday Night Videos: Monster Madness!
For as long as there have been levels in platforming games based around elements (fire, ice, heart, etc.), there have been those that featured ghost infested castles and haunted forests. It’s pretty much become standard fare over the years to feature a spooky stage of some sort in most video games. And this was never done better in my opinion than in the original Banjo-Kazooie for the Nintendo 64. A game that blew every expectation I had of what could and couldn’t be done right out of my mind. Think you can break that floor board to reveal a hidden basement? Yep. How about jumping through that stained glass window to access a hidden room? Go ahead and try it. I wonder if I can hop inside that toilet and flush myself. Well, I won’t spoil that one.
In “Mad Monster Mansion” (one of the later environments in the game) the haunted theme is taken so literally that it totally feels like a Halloween level. A run-down graveyard and floating spirits surround an old church while a full moon hangs ominously in the sky. There’s even a little maze ripped right out of “The Shining” tossed in there for good measure. The music matches as well, creating a perfectly creepy atmosphere as you find yourself transformed into a pumpkin, trying desperately to figure out the mystery within a haunted house. Just take a look:
Really fun stuff. I’ve never hidden my deep love of Banjo-Kazooie since that summer that it landed in my system. Even now more than a decade later I can still say without hesitation that it holds a firm place in my top ten games of all time. It took the groundwork placed down by Super Mario 64 and one upped it in every way possible, something not even Super Mario Sunshine could do a generation later. “Mad Monster Mansion” is a perfect example of level design at it’s finest and the fact that it has a ghostly setting only makes it that much more endearing. For a game that’s filled with unforgettable stages, this one towers above as my favorite and a true classic.