Posted 2008-12-10 05:32:39 by
Wow. I'd forgotten how ambitious Click Clock Wood was. Maybe I was just callow and unobservant in 1998.
Most levels in Banjo-Kazooie are basically just themed obstacle courses -- the same can be said of any of the direct descendants of Super Mario 64 -- but Click Clock Wood goes a bit further. It takes place over four seasons; you can travel between them freely, but they represent a timeline. Playing through these seasons, you're asked to help various woodland critters through difficult periods in their lives. There's the squirrel who didn't save enough for the winter. There's the beaver who can't get into his house. If you move on to the next season without giving them the help they need, they ... don't appear in that season.
There's also the flower that you nurture through autumn that inevitably dies in the winter no matter what you do.
Most affective, probably, is the eaglet that you hatch and feed; by winter, you play the role of the proud parent and watch him fly majestically out of the nest for the first time.
Well, not so majestically. He's lopsided and ungainly, and he farts a jigsaw puzzle piece onto you as he leaves. Still.
All of this is done through really basic gameplay mechanics of course, but dealing with the life cycle, dealing with action and consequence, including the consequence of inaction, is pretty heady stuff for a child.
I'm accustomed to thinking of Nintendo-era Rare as hard workers, producing games with a high degree of polish but that are not particularly inspired. This, this one level, is inspired.