Rare Revisits: Mad Monster Mansion

Talk about a hiatus! Eleven months? In any case, welcome back to Rare Revisits, which will — fingers crossed — return to being more than an annual feature. With Halloween mere days away, it’s only appropriate to take a look at one of the Twycross-based developer’s most iconic spook houses: Banjo-Kazooie’s Mad Monster Mansion.

Quite possibly Gruntilda’s home away from home, Mad Monster Mansion plays host to all manner of creatures that go bump in the night. Goblin ghosts, skeletons, bats — talking toilets?

Beyond the mansion on which the world is based, the level features a twisty hedge maze, a haunted cellar, a whipcrack-infested well, an unstable shack, and a church modeled after the Church of Twycross.

Although Mad Monster Mansion is geographically the smallest level in Banjo-Kazooie, it is arguably the most compact. I mean, I’m not calling any of the other levels out for being hollow, but this map takes full advantage of its space.

Aside from the level’s spooky aesthetic, which is only heightened by Grant Kirkhope’s chilling score, my favorite aspect of this locale is navigating the mansion itself. There are about a dozen entrances, several of which can only be accessed by Banjo’s pumpkin form.

Seriously, when I figured out how to get Loggo the toilet to flush me — you don’t forget those moments.

Speaking of which, this is definitely among Banjo-Kazooie’s most challenging worlds. Learning how to obtain Napper’s Jiggy without waking the cranky ghost, for instance, was one of the most satisfying accomplishments in the game.

Conker’s Spooky chapter will likely always be my go-to horror-themed locale, but Mad Monster Mansion isn’t far behind. Its handful of memorable personalities, as well as its festive score and haunting scenery, combine to make a world that embodies the Halloween spirit.