Nintendo Has This Theory About Donkey Kong Music

The soundtrack for the original Donkey Kong Country is so enchanting that the president of Nintendo listens to it in his iPod. How did it get so good?

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed his love for the music from the 1994 Donkey Kong Country in a recently-published online conversation between himself and the leaders of Nintendo's development team on Donkey Kong Country Returns. The original DKC was made by Rare, a British studio no longer affiliated with Nintendo.

Those Rare composers worked some magic, magic the Texas-based Retro Studios wanted to recreate for their Nintendo bosses in Japan. Here are two of the bosses talking music, and wondering how Rare did it...

Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo: Tanabe-san, what do you think about the music [in Donkey Kong Country Returns] ?

Kensuke Tanabe, producer on Donkey Kong Country Returns: It makes me remember 16, 17 years ago. When I was working on the localisation of the Super NES version, I went to Rare in England. Rare, which made Donkey Kong Country, was in...

Iwata: Twycross.

Tanabe: Yes. I think it took a little over four hours by car from London. It was a long ride and I found the scenery peaceful, with rolling hills and lots of sheep and wooden fences along the road. And that went on for hours. It never changed.

Iwata: You spent the whole time watching sheep. (laughs)

Tanabe: Yeah. (laughs) Rare is headquartered in a refurbished horse stable in a country town with an old church. When I got there, they handed me a huge key like you might see in a fantasy game and gave me a room, where I worked. In my mind, the music overlaps with scenes like that.

Iwata: Do you think the music turned out the way it did because the people who made it live in a peaceful area like that?

Tanabe: You could say that. Of course, there's also the atmosphere of London...

Iwata: They mix together.

Tanabe: Yeah. That music conjures up the image of another country for me. I was young at the time, so it brings back memories, and, while I can't go into details, I got into all kinds of trouble in London during my time off. The music brings all that back for me. (laughs)

The "Iwata Asks" series of interviews are always rich with surprise details about the making of Nintendo games. Look for many more at the link below.

Iwata Asks: Donkey Kong Country Returns


    jungle japes had epic music :D

    I haven't played the game yet (damn you Christmas shipping delays!) so I can't comment on the actual quality, but I kinda wish they could have gotten David Wise involved with it. He's working freelance now, and he's been doing very little game work since the DKC series.
    It'll be a sad day when he finally resigns from composing.

    I agree the music rocks. I have the title screen music as my alarm tone on my phone when I wake up in the mornings. It starts off very quiet and soft (perfect to ease you out of sleep) but gets louder if your stubborn body doesn't want to wake up :D

    He's not alone - so do I! It's an amazing soundtrack!

    Along with the soundtracks of:

    Panzer Dragoon Zwei (Yoshitaka Azuma)
    Final Fantasy PS1 games (Uematsu, Nobuo)
    WipeOut PS1 games (Cold Fusion :)
    Sonic 3 & Knuckles (Michael Jackson :)
    Quake 2 (Trent Reznor)
    Mechwarrior 2 (Gregory Alper / Jeehun Hwang)
    Within a Deep Forest (various)
    Scott Pilgrim the Game (Anamanaguchi)...

    ...amongst many, many others!

      Xenosaga Episode 2 and 3

      Some of the best boss battle themes of all times.

      I'd just like to point out that Trent Reznor did the Quake 1 music and sounds, but Quake 2's music was done by Sonic Mayhem. Quake 2's soundtrack is still one of my all time favourites.

      I think Rare's music in general was awesome.

    Donkey Kong Country 2's soundtrack was better!
    Not to say DKC1 didn't have some fantastic work, Aquatic Ambiance probably being the highest of highlights, but DKC2 was most hit, few miss.


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