Rare’s Donkey Kong Country games – specifically Donkey Kongs one through three – have some of the best soundtracks composed for the SNES. Anyone that says otherwise is wrong, and you should bite them.
My favourites from the first game match everyone else’s, for the most part: Fear Factory, Aquatic Ambiance (which received a gorgeous remix by original composer David Wise for Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze), and the now-iconic opening stage music, Jungle Hijinx.
I believe David Wise really found his groove, so to speak, with Donkey Kong Country 2. Mining Melancholy is special. It incorporates clashing metal, mourning wind, and, as its name suggests, a melancholy atmosphere. It’s appropriate: Mining work isn’t usually associated with cheeriness unless the pickaxe wielders have long beards and sing Hi-Ho.
Also, Mining Melancholy incorporates elements from Donkey Kong Country’s Misty Menace, an easily-missed but eerie underground theme.
Donkey Kong Country 3’s soundtrack, composed by Eveline Fischer is more low-key than Wise’s work. It’s no less fantastic as far as I’m concerned, but it is a bit more, well, depressing. Something about it reminds me of dead things, and I guess maybe that’s the point. Whereas the previous DKC games take place in tropical locales, Donkey Kong Country 3 takes place in the “Northern Kremisphere” – a Kremling stand-in for Canada.
As a born and bred Canadian currently slogging through the winter season, I assure you there are dead things outside. Yep. Just got up and checked. All dead. Fischer’s soundtrack knows what it’s droning about.
Nevertheless, Wise redid the entirety of Donkey Kong Country 3’s soundtrack when the game was remade for the Game Boy Advance. Wise’s work is fantastic as usual, but it’s also more upbeat than Fischer’s. People still fight over which soundtrack is superior, but as a cute little girl once suggested in a taco commercial:
Fischer’s rendition of Rockface Rumble is my favourite track out of Donkey Kong Country 3 SNES, though Wise’s version is nothing to mute, either. Those are some wicked harmonicas! Damn! And anyone whose work makes me use the words “wicked harmonicas” together deserves to be acknowledged.