Okay, so I doubt anyone actually ever thought Gruntilda from Banjo-Kazooie was a scary character. Everything about her is kind of a joke, so I suppose she doesn’t quite keep with the theme we’ve got going on here. However, she does have at least one unsettling moment, and it’s what happens if Banjo and Kazooie should fail in their quest to rescue Tooty.
See, all of this started because Gruntilda wanted to steal Tooty’s beauty (huh?), and she’ll succeed if the bear and bird get a game over. The Gruntilda that succeeds in her theft walks out of the transfer chamber as almost a different character. Instead of comical, she’s serious. Instead of blustering, she’s (seemingly) cool and confident. She still rhymes, but it suddenly doesn’t feel silly anymore (still petty though). Rather than a coming off as a massive buffoon, this Gruntilda has the air of an actual, malevolent threat!
It’s almost too bad that the only time we see a threatening Gruntilda is in the game over screen, because I think it’d make her interactions at least a little more interesting. That said though, she’s probably not a good fit for an otherwise very happy go lucky game. Banjo-Kazooie is kind of meant to be one big joke, so having her be an actual, serious villain would be at least a little confusing for players, I think.
As easy as it is to tire of her rhyming interjections during the first playthrough and outright ignore her in later ones, Banjo-Kazooie just wouldn’t be the same without everyone’s favorite joke of a witch. She belongs in this world, and all the silly things that the bear and bird encounter in her lair make jive well with her normal, goofy self. To be totally honest, she’s almost likable this way. She’s so certain that she’s going to win despite doing nothing but rhyme insults at her enemies.
Gruntilda is the villain Banjo-Kazooie both needs and deserves, so it’s a good thing that she’s almost completely unthreatening. Perhaps she was at one point considering the effort Rare put into her game over model, voice and portrait, but they wisely chose not to stick with that, if so. Our constant couplet-slinging joke of a witch the secret ingredient that completes the Banjo-Kazooie experience, so I don’t think any of us would want her any other way.
Stay tuned for more Spooptober later this week! For now though, what’s your take on a more scary Gruntilda? Think it could’ve worked? Do any other, similar characters come to mind when you think of her?
Image by Duck of Indeed