Composer(s): David Wise
Welcome to Game Music of the Week, Bit Cultures’ weekly tribute to the illustrious yet sometimes underappreciated world of video game music. Each week we’ll give the spotlight to a different game and celebrate the sounds, composers and remixes from the wonderful world of VGM.
I decided to kick off this feature with a game that’s very near and dear to me and an entire SNES generation. Following the success of DKC, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest was a bona fide sequel that expanded on just about every aspect that made the first game so enjoyable. Tougher platforming, more animal sidekicks and, of course, an amazing soundtrack.
Diddy Kong takes center stage as the star of the show along with up-and-comer Dixie Kong as they try to stop K. Rool once again and save the now captive Donkey Kong. The Rareware opening fanfare kicks things off, followed by the opening theme (K. Rool Returns) which sets the tone for the adventure
David Wise was Rare’s go to guy when it came to composition; creating memorable tunes for games like Wizards & Warriors and Battletoads. As great as those soundtracks are, it’s hard to compare them to what he first accomplished with DKC and then improved upon with the sequel (as hard as that may be to believe). The first Donkey Kong Country’s soundtrack was phenomenal, but David Wise undoubtedly outdid himself with this one.
Klomp’s Romp kicks off the first level of the game and that “pirate life” feel the game portrays is evident by the sounds of creaky wooden floors and crashing waves. Wise did a great job at implementing the look and feel of the game into the music.
Cranky’s Conga and Token Tango are great remixes of the most notable tracks from the first DKC game. Wise has mentioned that his traveling experiences influenced the sound and mood of each Donkey Kong game and that the soundtrack for this game was composed during his “experimental Paris phase”, as he calls it. The following tracks are found halfway through the game and start to stray away from the pirate sounds while moving into a more unique and surreal phase. These some of the best pieces of game music ever composed.
The most notorious track in the soundtrack, however, is what I consider to be my personal favorite video game song. I’ve listened to and collected thousands of game soundtracks, but this wonderful piece of aural majesty is one that has cemented itself in mind as the best video game song I’ve ever heard. Stickerbrush Symphony is, I would say, David Wise’s biggest achievement. This inspirational and just hauntingly beautiful song is the source of multiple fan-made remixes and Nintendo came up with a new version of the memorable track for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. If there is only one thing I pass along during my time as a video game journalist, only one thing you take away from any of the words I’ll ever write, let it be this tribute to Stickerbrush Symphony. I’m serious.
Speaking of remixes, OCRemix is a great site to check out if you’re at all interested in game music, which I frequent regularly so don’t be surprised if I mention them again in the future. Awesome game remixes created by talented composers are posted daily and DKC2 was the subject of an entire remixed album. Serious Monkey Business put together dozens of musicians to remix all the songs on here and even David Wise himself got in on the action with a remix of his own. I highly recommend everyone to check it out.
Finally, we’ll close out with two songs. First is “Crocodile Cacaphony”. The epic final boss theme which plays during the climactic fight against K.Rool, followed by the song that plays during the end credits, “Donkey Kong Rescued”, but instead of just listening, check out the credits yourself.