Sunday, 17 July 2011

Take a look at Death

...And no, not at Gregg. Only if you feel like getting cussed at.

Have we ever realized how many characters die in Rare's games? Not just "game over", but just plain die, never to return, with sometimes irreversible results? Few games have the guts to actually show it, but like usual, there's always exceptions.

Conker's Bad Fur Day
Characters die by the dozen here, but we never really care, do we? Well, I know I didn't. When Conker died, he got confronted with a pint-sized Grim Reaper called Gregg who possessed a colourful vocabulary, who claimed Conker's got as many lives as he thought he'd get away with, to which the squirrel usually ended up unharmed.

Death wasn't really taken seriously in this game. I just laughed at those poor Uga Buga cavemen who were to be devoured by some deranged Yoshi-clone with sharp teeth. But near the end, I couldn't help but weep. Why? Berri, of course. Conker's girlfriend, ruthlessly killed by a mob boss's gun. As she lay on the ground, Conker tried to wake her up, but it was too late.

Later on, the airlock opened (they were in space or something) and she got sucked out into the endless abyss of space. So to this day her lifeless body is floating around in space. I wonder how Mario will react if he sees her on his space adventures like in Super Mario Galaxy.

Her death sent poor Conker into a depression, with him being a millionaire and crowned king, but having nobody to share his wealth with...

A game which was more risque than Banjo-Kazooie, and already showed that in the beginning cutscene. Bottles the Mole got blasted by one of the evil witch Gruntilda's spells. He got his head fried and died. Yeah, right. A character that had a major role in the first game wasn't spared. He just died. To make the blow a little bit less bad, his spirit rose from his body to provide witty little remarks about how he's late for dinner and how insects are treating his corpse as a feast. Never knew ants liked roast mole.

Needless to say, I ended up crying. C'mon, I was six. It was more the ruined Spiral Mountain, though.

Only Bottles wasn't enough. Gruntilda, now safely hidden from view in Cauldron Keep, was discussing with her sisters what evil deed to do next. They chose to blast the Jinjo king, King Jingaling (there's a lot of royalty in the Rare games, isn't there?) because he "just gave [Banjo] a jiggy." The poor king got blasted by some freakishly large machine named B.O.B. and he died. However, unlike Bottles, he merely got the life force sucked out of him and his palace, so the poor fellow got turned into a zombie. Let's not mention his poor pet Toots who got burned entirely, only his eyes remaining.

However, at the end, Banjo and Kazooie managed to bring both of them back to life, simply by reversing the B.O.B.'s controls. Everything was well, but poor old Bottles still got late for dinner...

These deaths may be well-known among the Banjo-Kazooie fandom, but these are not the only ones. There's George and Mildred Ice Cube, in Banjo-Tooie. They're basically sentient ice cubes with eyes, not unlike the common Freezeezy Peak enemies in the first game. However, instead of discussing with them, Banjo and Kazooie just murder both of them in cold blood.. er, water. Mildred gets shattered into a thousand pieces and George falls from Cloud Cuckooland in... a pool of hot water in Hailfire Peaks. Sucks to be them.

However, as by some wonder, they return living in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, sans the talking, now as exhibits in Banjoland.

The questionably-named Lord Woo Fak Fak also claimed to have died after turning upside-down in his cramped little locker, but would continue making comments about how he was dead if you would harass him any further after acquiring his jiggy. Seriously. And let's not mention all the blood.

Donkey Kong
Yes, even the mostly family-friendly ape's franchise has had his fair share of deaths. The most notable is Wrinkly Kong. We did not see her pass on-screen, and that's probably a good thing. Somewhere between Donkey Kong Country 3; Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! and Donkey Kong 64 she had died. But then, she was old, so it was presumably of old age. In Donkey Kong 64, she appeared as a ghost, and went to appear in later games as DK: Jungle Climber and Barrel Blast/Jet Race in ghost form just for the hell of it.

In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, various ghosts and spirits abound in the spooky forests and glades of Crocodile Isle. Most obvious are the menacing kackles. They basically haunt a library with rollercoaster for no real reason. But they're there, and they're creepy.

Let's say I had a theory why they're there in the first place, and whose idea it was to put a freakin' rollercoaster in a library, but it's fantalk.

A similar-looking ghoul appears in Donkey Kong 64, in Creepy Castle's catacombs, which were already the creepiest part of the game. Not fake horror-movie creepy, either. But honestly freaking piss-your-pants creepy. Well, I dunno about that, but yeah.
Likewise, various vaguely humanlike skeletons appear in the same game. Gloomy Galleon's ship holds, possibly elsewhere too. It's been a few months since I played the game, alas. Humans in the Isle o' Hags?

A little bit to ponder about; The theme from Gloomy Galleon used to begin life as Captain Blackeye's theme, in Dream, the game that eventually became Banjo-Kazooie. It was one of the few Rare games to star a human boy and humans in general, really. The music seems to be a leftover from Dream. And the skeletons? They must've been a remnant of Blackeye's fleet. Or enemies. Whatever floats your boat.... ha! Or they're just props, but that doesn't sound nearly as cool.

Alas, this brings this topic to an end.

Rare doesn't fear death. Sorry, Davy Jones.

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