He lives! That’s right, folks: after a several-month-long hiatus, Rare Revisits is making something of a return. Best to sneak in quietly without making a show of the whole thing, right? Throughout this entry, I’ll be discussing Banjo-Kazooie’s Click Clock Wood in all of its multi-seasoned glory. Why? Blame it on the weather, I suppose.
I should preface up-front that this is easily my favorite world that the bear and bird duo have explored, both aesthetically and functionally. First and foremost, no other video game level that I’ve played has featured a structure of progression quite like Click Clock Wood’s. To anyone who’s even the least bit familiar with this world’s motif, you’ll know what I’m referring to: this place is divided into four sub-levels — one for each season. Many of the quests that you undertake in one season will alter the state of the things in the following season. Introduce a baby eagle to the world in Spring? Expect to feed it throughout Summer and Fall. By the time Winter rolls around, it will be fully-grown and appropriately majestic. You know, save for the method in which he rewards you…
It wasn’t just the characters that changed as the seasons progressed, though. Setting Click Clock Wood within the, well, woods was a smart move from an artistic perspective. Only by setting this world within the heart of mother nature could the designers get away with reusing the same layout four times in a row. Despite traversing what is essentially the exact same area throughout each section, the specific time of year allowed for each sub-level to feel distinct. For instance, one set of overgrown leaves — which are used to climb portions of the large tree around which the world is based — may not be fully blossomed until a later season. Additionally, one enemy type that may be totally absent from Spring may be virtually dominant in Winter.
On a less detailed but equally important note, the tone of Click Clock Wood’s music varies depending on the time of year, too. It’s the same basic tune, but, just like the sub-levels themselves, is altered just enough to give each season its own feel. Take a listen, but beware of the catchiness:
It was this sort of inventive level design, though, that separated Banjo-Kazooie from other platform-adventure games that were around at the time. With everything that this one world provides, I will always view it as a kind of summation of the series as a whole.