Number 21: Donkey Kong Country 2
Nintendo has earned the honor of being known for a lot of classic gaming tunes: The Mario Bros. theme, The Legend of Zelda theme, the Metroid theme. However, you may notice a common trait among all of those themes. None of them are here. This swinging beat however, is.
If you've dabbled in video game music at all over the years, its very likely that you've run into the soundtrack of DKC2 on at the very least multiple occasions. This soundtrack even featured on our list last year, coming in at position number 12. Arguably the most famous and successful soundtrack ever composed by David Wise, DKC2 set new standards for what game music could be when it was released in 1995 and still to this day holds a high bar for any other soundtracks entering the gaming field. It's been remixed, rearranged, and variations of it have returned in almost every Nintendo title to feature Donkey Kong. In fact, when the original game was released, Nintendo was so sure of the soundtrack that they released a limited CD soundtrack album to go along with it, an occurrence rarer then gold in those days, and as far as Nintendo's soundtrack release record is concerned these days, still incredibly rare.
But enough about the background of the album. What is it that makes DKC2 so attractive to gamers and non-gamers alike? What is it that causes Nintendo to revisit the same old tunes over and over again for new source material? Well, the answer stems from several areas.
First off, DKC2's soundtrack is fresh and clever. Especially compared to much of the music out there, DKC2 has a unique feel to its composition. While the beat patterns aren't exactly new, the instrumentation used to make those patterns is, and it helps make the music memorable. Additionally, while the beat patterns sound familiar, the melodies are clever and complex, but simple enough that they can stick in your head and easily be hummed later.
Secondly, the soundtrack for DKC2 captures a wide range of emotions and feelings, making it easy for the listener to find a few particular songs that really stick with them. While one or two songs may not be incredibly catchy to each listener, the wide range of music in the DKC2 soundtrack all but ensures that each listener will find at least a few songs that they really enjoy.
While DKC2 doesn't land quite as high on the position of Stand Alone Quality as earlier titles on this list, primarily due to it's strong association with its source material and slightly quirky instrumentation (which is slightly off-putting to some), it scores quite highly in other areas, such as it's Composition and Representation. In addition, DKC2 also manages to grab both a Nostalgic bonus and a Non-gamer appeal bonus, leading to a respectable final score.
Donkey Kong Country 2
Stand Alone Quality: 3.5
Emotional Reaction: 4
Game Representation: 4.75
Non-Gamer Enjoyment: 1
Donkey Kong Country 2 is a classic example of what makes a great soundtrack. Catchy and complex but memorable tunes, clever composition, and a wide range of music style give Donkey Kong Country 2 the funky grip it needs to take its place as Number 21 in 2012.
Number 21--Donkey Kong Country 2 by David Wise