The Great Big Hootenanny is one of the Battle of the Birds challenges provided by Death Wish in A Hat in Time. It uses the base level of The Big Parade, except with the major change being the increase of Express Owls following the player, as well as minor tweaks to the level's hazards and objects to further spike the difficulty.
Compared to the level it is based on, The Great Big Hootenanny is exceedingly similar in scope and progression to its non-Death Wish counterpart, that being walking around the rooftops of The Moon set until Hat Kid is told by DJ Grooves to start up the pyrotechnics/firework cannons before the Time Piece is dropped for her to collect.
Fundamentally the same, except there are new stipulations to the dangers and hazards found while conducting the parade:
- The Express Band has expanded its repertoire of musicians from seven to a whopping fifty members.
- Electrical pings that cross the wires found throughout the set cross their line faster, as well as sending out another ping quickly so that there is always at least one ping on the line at all times.
- Pyrotechnics that light up some of the rooftops no longer follow a set cooldown after they are ignited, allowing for another countdown to start even before the previous ignition ends. This however still has a minor grace period between bursts, so that the rooftop is not completely off-limits.
- The dials required to turn on the pyrotechnics are replaced with simpler buttons from the firework cannons, as to let the player step on them rather than swing and awkwardly run before the Express Band bumps into them.
Overall the biggest difference is the Express Band increase, making their presence and poor movement through the level more noticeable, especially when the amounting threats of firework rockets and pyrotechnics are introduced at the end. The best way to surpass the following is to have a general game sense of where to go next and when to double back from where the player currently is.
Ideally, turning back where the Owls are now populating is not the safest option, but it can be vital to setting up the next few jumps and maneuvers to prevent issues later down the line, especially if the player mistakenly walks near an objective they need to complete and require two double back twice to make sure the owls are not blocking the switch.
The bonus challenges for The Great Big Hootenanny are simple, but often quite devious in how they are implemented for a player to successfully obtain either and still get through to the end of the level. The first being not to get hit by the Express Band is quite a task when they are so prolific and often in the way of the player.
The best way to avoid unneeded contact is to prioritize taking damage from any other source if possible than the Owls themselves. If an escape route is impossible without taking damage from another source, that single point of damage can be preferable to taking damage from an Owl that would end the run for that challenge. This is especially the case with the moon penguin crowd below, whom can help the player reach surrounding rooftops at the loss of a point of health, which can be beneficial if a single area is being crowded by too many owls at a time with no way out.
The second challenge, not letting any DJ Grooves tokens expire, is very luck-dependent and often comes into conflict with the main objective and other bonus. Depending on which penguins toss them, the tokens force the player to navigate over to them and to collect them before they time out, either correlating with the path being made or right in the middle of an owl line that prevents the player from collecting for a significant portion of time.
Tokens also interfere with the easiest strategy of the mission, that being to find a triangular rooftop and walking around so the entire area is covered with owls in a safe and predictable formation. It should be regarded that if tokens are being problematic with the other bonus, to prioritize one over the other if needed.