There's something about Steamboat Willie that can't be described as much as experienced. It's a seamless story told only by sound effects, music, and animation that still stands as one of the greatest cartoons of all time. Here, Mickey Mouse uses his wit and the world of cartoon physics to his great advantage, a style that has only recently been revisited by Warren Spector in the Epic Mickey series.
This whimsical, classic style is the driving point for Windy, the theme for the hubworld of Rare's 2001 cult classic for the Nintendo 64, Conker's Bad Fur Day.
Bad Fur Day was Rare's last hurrah on the Nintendo 64, pushing its limits to incredible ends. The music, however, is one of the most remembered parts of the game, thanks to an incredible soundtrack by Robin Beanland, who had worked on such games as Jet Force Gemini and Conker's first game, Conker's Pocket Tales. The soundtrack is one of the best by Beanland, and arguably one of the best by Rare in its entirety, which is saying something due to the company's heavy musical hitters such as Grant Kirkhope and David Wise.
The more memorable tracks according to most include the ever-popular ballad of the Great Mighty Poo, the infinitely danceable beats of Rock Solid, and perhaps the most morbid and depressing credits theme ever composed in a video game. Yet despite all of this, I still find Windy to be the core song of the game.
Above is Windy and Company, a medley of songs that use the Windy theme. In order: Standard, performed by bees, standard, whistled by Conker, standard, Barn Boys. Other uses are drunken Conker, Uga Buga, the main menu, and the outside of Bats' Tower.
Windy is heard the most out of all themes in the game. Like Gruntilda's Lair from Banjo-Kazooie, the theme is used in many different situations throughout the game while keeping the same tune. A banjo and fiddle version plays when you explore a farm, a trombone-heavy version is heard when Conker has too much to drink, and a prehistoric version's beats echo when Conker finds himself among cavemen.
But, again, it's the original Windy that has this magic about it, the Steamboat Willie quality. Conker, as a character, is a lot like Mickey Mouse in the heyday; he's a bit of a smart-aleck, he usually finds himself in trouble more often than he'd like, but despite all of this you've gotta root for the little guy in the hopes that he ends up on top.
Windy tells a story in itself, Conker's story. Its unique sound makes it seem like it's jumped straight out of a black-and-white cartoon, making a good balance with the unique personality of Conker and the huge terrain full of unique characters. The call-and-response sections, the solos, the central theme; the whole thing is like a character in itself.
That's what makes Windy stand out from other songs, even in Bad Fur Day itself; it's a musical thesis statement.
Music has the ability to tell you where you are, or how someone or something is feeling, or the situation at hand. But Windy tells you more than that. It tells you where you are, who you are, what awaits you, and it gives you a friendly shove toward your big adventure. Windy might not be the song that people think about the most when Bad Fur Day is brought up, but it's a vital part of the experience, and it sticks with you no matter where you go.
(As for the version in the XBOX 360 version of the game, Conker: Live and Reloaded, some of the magic's gone. Maybe it's the fact that the whole thing sounds better synthesized, maybe it's the bad taste in my mouth from remembering how the game didn't pay respect to the original, I don't know.)
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