Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Banjo Kazooie for N64: getting through Mumbo's Mountain (not a euphemism)

“I hope this video game is not beyond your capacity," my friend says, setting up the Nintendo64 in preparation of my frustration.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve touched a controller. It’s not like I’m jonesing for it as some video game nerds would be, because as we all know I’m not a video game nerd. A nerder. A gamer? A video gamer? I wonder how many brains I’m breaking as I’m trying to explain this.

“This is the one I was telling you about the Jiggies and the Jinjos," my friend shouts at me from across the room.

I’m worried about what I see. Puzzle pieces. A … monkey bird? A bear with a bird in its backpack? Okay. It’s like Dora the Explorer, but not at all. Dora at least teaches you a proper language.

"Press the Z button." Z? Where’s the Z button?! There's a small moment of panic when I can't find the Z button. It's at the back, as I was told after looking for it with very little motivation to actually find it.

“It’s got quite a long intro which, if you miss, is available on YouTube.”

Is this Oz? Nope, but there is a witch. Wow. Okay, so I don't want to alarm anyone but she's currently screaming out, “WHO IS THE NICEST LOOKING WENCH?” Yup. This is the game I'm currently playing. I have a feeling it's not going to go really well.

Why did that witch just pick her nose and throw it with a rather loud sound effect of booger-landing. Is this a messed up version of Snow White? What is happening?!

This witch reminds me of someone. Someone particularly witchy with a distinct witchiness about her, but more like a lower-class witch as opposed to the graceful ones with sparkly shoes. Who does it remind me of? Oh right ... Latrine.

She is not speaking words. To quote Emma Stone in Easy A, "Sounds. Those are just sounds." I understand her pot of boogers more than I understand her. This witch is one walking witch stereotype.

"Hey blonde bear girl!" I shout as things get more confusing. "You’s gonna die! Is that mole in a Jeff Goldblum-esque pile of ... you know?"

Tooty?! Her name is TOOTY?! I want to punch this bear in the face. And not just because her name is Tooty. Although I did have a pair of her leggings with the stirrups in the ‘90s and they were incredibly comfortable.

Does this bird just always sit in a backpack? Dear bird, you can fly. Why are you strapped inside a backpack? FREE YOURSELF! That bear is a doofus.

Why will Tooty need bigger underwear, Grunty? Does being ugly mean you suddenly wear granny panties?

There’s a lot of hate and stereotyping and anger between these characters.. "Short-sighted mole"? "Goggles"? "Geeky"? "Specky"? "Beaky"? "Worm breath"? "Feathery butt"? "Chick legs"? "Short stuff"?

I mean I get it, these characters are the worst, but you'd think they'd be on the same time.

"Bird brain"? "Bottle boy"? These two are in love. 

"Buzzard"? "Squinty"? "Feather face and Bogeyes"? This is an elementary school yard kind of love.

Suddenly Kazooie is insecure about how she’ll look? She’s got a developing crush on Mole. She doesn’t want to look silly in front of him. This is textbook crushing!

“Wearing glasses and a silly grin?” says Kazooie to Boggles. That’s akin to Lizzy telling her friend Charlotte that Mr Darcy has a quizzical brow. These two are so gonna get it on in an inter-species way.

Also, the honeycombs remind me of the aliens on Sesame Street. “Yupyupyupyupyupyupyup. Rockrockrockrockrockrockrock.”

How easy is it to get to the witch’s lair? It’s in this guy’s backyard and his stupid sister has never seen her on her broom before? I call either idiocy or foul. There’s no way they don’t see her when she’s out getting milk or boogers or whatever goes in her cauldron.

This bear isn’t very reliable. He’s super excited to be on this adventure while his sister is fearing the impending ugliness that will ruin her naïve little life.

“Grunty admits that she’s a hog, she really needs a big hot dog.”

What the what, witch? We get that you need to get some, but why must you do so by laying traps of jigsaw puzzles that are possibly too easy to solve.

This camera is messed up. Apparently, according to nerd friend beside me, the maker of this game always struggled with the camera in their games. Silly Rare.

So after all that work of collecting skull tokens and music notes and honeycombs, I go to a weird shaman who turns me into a termite. I know that strength-to-size termites are probably stronger and more powerful than bears and I’m certain that Sheldon Cooper would be able to make a case for their power in the same way he vouched for the Army Ant over the boring panther, but that doesn’t mean it makes me feel fearsome. Although it makes me feel a little less like a bumbling idiot named Banjo whose cousin is probably Yogi.

Also, the sound effects of its little insect feet clicking on the ground make me feel ill. Bugs are not cool.

So now that I’m a termite I guess that means I can be accepted in the termite hill and climbs its walls to get to the nest up at the top. The only problem with this is that the camera doesn’t make sense for you to be moving around in this polygon formation climbing and jumping from landing to landing as it spirals up, which means falling down is very easy. So easy, in fact, that after dozens of tries, I give up and give the controller to my friend who gets me to the top of the mountain.

After I got through Mumbo's Mountain alive, I moved on and met Brentilda, Gruntilda's sister. Doesn't she seems like a b.... witch. First, she sneaks into her sister’s house uninvited, then she calls her an old hag, then she decides to tell some stranger all of her sister’s disgusting secrets. Kind of mean, “nice” sister! How would you like it if Grunty shared some of your secrets? A sampling of Grunty's dirty secrets:

  1. Brushes her teeth with tuna ice cream flavoured toothpaste.
  2. Washes her hair with rancid milk.
  3. And she gets her clothes from Saggy Maggy’s Boutique.

This sounds like your sister is on welfare and you should be nicer to her, you mean girl.

My friend instructs me on the way to turn. “And left, through the … Demon Door.”

“I love me some Demon Doors.” It also sounds like a good name for a band. "Please welcome to the stage, The Demon Doors!" It'd be more amusing if they were a mild-mannered hipster band instead of what they sound like they'd be, a group of angry metal heads. It'd be like the hilarity that is the Barenaked Ladies.

“Okay, you’ve technically finished level one so you can stop playing if you want,” my friend says. “But you have to save and continue to see what happens.”

Spoiler alert: you get a guilt trip.

Because you didn’t continue on your quest to save your sister, she gets turned into a monster and the witch gets turned into a beaut. And by a “beaut” I mean a proportionally confusing woman with long legs and a leather mini skirt. Tooty, on the other hand, gets turned into a gorilla of a bear.

And I’m fairly certain whoever came up with this game was experimenting with some recreational life enhancements. Or drugs. I think they might've been on drugs. That's what I was trying to say.

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