Saturday, October 29, 2011

The top ten songs from the Banjo-Kazooie series -- Part 1

The two Nintendo 64 Banjo-Kazooie games are known for a lot things, from being excellent platformers to having great and memorable music.  While their GBA and Xbox 360 sequels weren't as well received as their N64 originals were, the Banjo-Kazooie franchise is still remembered as one of the best open world platformer series in history.  In honor of their memory, I'm going to share my top ten favorite songs from the series.  The list will be split up into two posts, with today's post being the first five on the list and tomorrow's post having the remaining five.

I originally started this out as a top five list, but I couldn't decide on the five I liked most, so it was expanded into the list of ten it is today.  Because it was so difficult to pick ten I liked, this list isn't going to be in any specific order.  Anyway, enjoy the list!

Click Clock Wood - Spring (Banjo-Kazooie)

Any article listing the top ten songs from the Banjo-Kazooie franchise is bound to have this song somewhere in it, and for good reason.  The song itself starts off with only one instrument playing, but then slowly builds up to become one of the most memorable and catchy songs in the entire game.  Add in the birds and crickets chirping in the background, and you get a song worthy of being on any top ten list.

But the song itself isn't the only thing great about this track.  It also fits in perfectly with the theme of the level.  Click Clock Woods is a level based around a tree in a forest, and the song captures that feeling perfectly.  The wind instruments used in this song create a serene, peaceful feeling while also keeping up that fun atmosphere that the Banjo-Kazooie games are known for.  In addition, the song pauses and slows down in parts so you can hear the crickets and birds, which gives off the feeling that you're in the middle of some forest.

Mr. Patch Battle (Banjo-Tooie)

Mr. Patch is probably one of the most memorable bosses in Banjo-Tooie, and the song that plays in the background is even more memorable.  The music that accompanies the battle with Mr. Patch is expertly composed to give off the feeling that you're in some kind of demonic circus battling against something, all the while keeping that quirky charm Banjo games are known for.  I'm not a composer, but I can't imagine any other song going along with this battle as well as this one does.

To truly understand why this song is so great though, you have to have played through the level in which this song appears in Banjo-Tooie.  Witchyworld is like a carnival from hell, and right in the middle of said carnival is a giant circus tent.  Inside that tent waiting to battle is, as the game describes, a strange wobbly inflatable thing known as Mr. Patch.  It's basically the main attraction to the carnival, and the fast paced music that goes along with the battle just emphasizes that point.

Gruntilda's Lair (Banjo-Kazooie)

No list compiling the top ten songs from the Banjo-Kazooie series would be complete without the series' most iconic song.  This is the song you hear the most when playing through Banjo-Kazooie, and you never tire of it.  The instruments used in this song fit Grunty's lair perfectly, as they make you feel like you're really in a witch's lair and not anywhere else.  The instruments used also change when you get close to a level's entrance to fit the level that you're around.  It's a small touch, but it goes a long way in helping this song stand out.

As a side note, this song becomes even greater when you realize that it's actually based off of the 1932 song Teddy Bear's Picnic by Henry Hall and His Orchestra.

Rusty Bucket Bay (Banjo-Kazooie)

Yet another song that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that's played the Banjo-Kazooie games.  Like the other songs on this list, Rusty Bucket Bay's music fits the theme of the level perfectly.  The entire level is an industrial shipyard with one main ship in the center of it all, and because of the instruments used in the stage's theme, you get the feeling that you're actually in an industrial area.  You can also hear the sounds of seagulls and the ocean and in the background of this song, and to top it all off, it incorporates ship whistles into the actual song.

But what I think I love most about this song is just how catchy it is.  Even after you've left the level and moved onto Click Clock Woods, you'll still find yourself humming this level's theme.  And even if you're someone who hasn't played Banjo-Kazooie, you can still appreciate Rusty Bucket Bay's theme because it's actually a really good song.

Grunty Battle (Banjo-Kazooie)

Banjo-Kazooe is on a roll today!  Four of the first five songs on this list are from the first game in the series.  Don't worry, tomorrow won't have as many Banjo-Kazooie songs.

By the time you reach this battle, you've gone through nine worlds and collected almost every jiggy and note in the game to get to this point, and you expect an epic showdown between Grunty and yourself.  The game doesn't let you down, and that's thanks in part to the amazing music that's playing in the background.  While the rest of the game's music has a quirky, happy feeling to it, this song is completely serious.  It really gives off the feeling that this battle is the finale, and it's do or die.

I also love the fact that it starts off as a remix of Guntilda's Lair's theme, but then transforms into an epic final battle theme.  The remix is a great way to start off the final battle with the evil witch that's kidnapped your sister, and the epic part is an even better way to finish off the battle that the game had been leading up to the entire time.

For part two, click here.

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