Soundtrack Saturdays: Donkey Kong Country 2 – Stickerbrush Symphony

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest had a lot to live up to. With only a year since the release of the original DKC – one of the finest and visually stunning games on the SNES – it was a ridiculously tough act to follow. Rare stepped up to the challenge by introducing even more collectible items, tons of hidden rooms and secrets, more allies and enemies, even better graphics, more varied platforming and level designs, and a new character with a more unique abilities and jump physics.

It also boasted one of the finest soundtracks on the SNES, if not any console of that generation. David Wise put a lot of effort into the composition, and it shows. Other 16-bit games could only dream of having its intricate layering and epic tone. “Stickerbrush Symphony” is arguably the most famous track in DKC’s already impressive musical library. It’s strangely fitting that such a relaxing song plays during one of the toughest levels in the entire game.

If you want more DKC2, you can find the full OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Donkey Kong Country – Ice Cave Chant

With Christmas just around the corner, I wanted to find a video game song to fit the season. Last year, I went with the iconic “Phendrana Drifts” from Metroid Prime. Many games have snow-themed levels, but finding one with a good song is a little trickier. The Flanoir theme from Tales of Symphonia was a close choice this time, but I decided to go with Donkey Kong Country again. There are actually two winter themes; the “Northern Hemispheres” track is much better known and more atmospheric, but the “Ice Cave Chant” is far more upbeat. The brief melody in the middle only hints at the underlying danger and difficulty of its stage.

If you want more Donkey Kong Country, you can find the full OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Mega Man X – Electric Spark Remix

When you ask gamers about the best titles on the SNES, you’ll probably hear things like Super Mario World, A Link To The Past, Chrono Trigger, or Super Metroid. Occasionally, someone will mention Mega Man X, the continuation of the classic Capcom franchise.┬áIt set a high standard for every action/platformer that came after it. It took everything from the old NES games and improved on them in every way. There were characters with actual personalities, more upgrades, flashier graphics, tighter controls, versatile weapons, several secrets, fast pacing, gorgeous levels, and epic bosses.

It was so good.

Its success (it eventually spawned eight sequels!) was also due to its incredible sound design. When something exploded, you heard it. The game was one of the first to demonstrate what the SNES could really do, especially with regards to the soundtrack. The guitar riffs in Storm Eagle’s stage, the jazzy, complex beat of Armored Armadillo’s mine…and of course, Spark Mandrill’s classic rock theme. That last one was revamped by Sixto Sounds for OC Remix’s For Everlasting Peace: 25 Years Of Mega Man, and it’s arguably the best track on the album. It’s an amazing song paying homage to an even more amazing game.

If you want more Mega Man X, you can find the full OST here. If you want more Sixto Sounds, you can find his page here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Donkey Kong Country – Fear Factory

Pretty sure I’ve mentioned Donkey Kong Country before. It was one of the finest games of its time; it had challenging platforming mechanics, intricate level designs, and graphics that pushed the Super Nintendo to its limits. However, it’s the soundtrack that everyone remembers. Fear Factory captured the pacing and tone of its levels perfectly. Not only did you have to outmaneuver all kinds of hazards, but you had to do it quick reflexes and the utmost precision. Listening to this now, the fact that Rare managed to get this performance on a cartridge – not a CD – is still absolutely mind-blowing. After 20 years of sequels and spinoffs, the original soundtrack has yet to be topped.

If you want more Donkey Kong Country, you can find the OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Street Fighter II – China Street Beat

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I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before how much I love fighting games. Especially Street Fighter; from the original 1992 release of Street Fighter II on the SNES through the latest PS3 titles, I’ve been playing along the entire time. Chun-Li has always been one of my favorites, and I’m not sure why. Probably because she (and Samus Aran) was the first female character I’d played. Her unique style and color scheme made her stand out. The fact that she was one of the fastest and strongest warriors might have had something to do with it, too.

Like any good fighting game character, Chun-Li has an awesome theme song. It – along with several other iconic tracks – were composed by Yoko Shimomura in the early days of the SNES. It was the among the first to really demonstrate the console’s audio capabilities. Over the last 20 years and several Street Fighter games, the songs have been remixed dozens of times. That they’ve lasted so long is a testament to their quality and appeal. McVaffe’s version from OC Remix isn’t officially on any soundtracks, but it’s easily one of the best renditions of Chun-Li’s theme.

If you want more McVaffe, you can find his page here. If you want more Street Fighter…Well, you can start with SF II here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Donkey Kong Country – Aquatic Ambiance

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Released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo, Donkey Kong Country was a force to reckoned with. Nintendo needed a major title to push its console to its limits, and DKC pulled it off spectacularly. Graphics that resembled 3D rendering, fluid animations, and a maximized color display blew audiences away. The challenging – for the time, anyway – platforming was nothing to scoff at, either. But the part everyone remembers most is the soundtrack. Remember, this song was on a video game cartridge, not a CD! Aquatic Ambiance is just one of several themes that are not only iconic to the franchise, but to retro gaming as well. It’s even getting remixed for the upcoming Donkey Kong Wii U game. You know a song is good when people are still listening to it 20 years later.

You can find the rest of the Donkey Kong Country OST here.

Good gaming, good music.