Hello and welcome back to P-Vock's Music Box, the blog where I pull out a track from my extensive Music Box to help get you set for the weekend. Over the past few months, I've hit you with some pretty varied tunes. We've felt sheer depression from NieR, pure adventurous bliss with Dragon Roost Island, and a good amount of battle themes to help get you fired up. This week, let's get funky with some monkey hijinx.
Donkey Kong is the most famous monkey in video games (only because Sony depressingly refuses to do anything with Ape Escape) and he has done a lot in his many years. He was Mario's original rival, he starred in a hilariously awful show, rose up against the sheer evil of capitalism in Mario vs Donkey Kong (I'm not joking), and was even one of the original Smash Brothers. So then Nintendo, why the hell do you just not do much with him?
In the early 2000s one of Nintendo's best partners, Rareware, was sold to Microsoft. So not only did Nintendo lose access to classic titles like Perfect Dark, Killer Instinct, and the beloved Banjo Kazooie (until the bear and bird came back for Smash Bros Ultimate in what I believe was God saying "here's the only win I'll ever give you nerds"), they would also lose the devs who made Donkey Kong anything but a monkey to be forgotten once Bowser came onto the scene. Donkey Kong had a few weird, and usually bad, games here and there throughout the 2000s but none of these had the instant praise and widespread love the classic Country games did. In fact, after 1996's Donkey Kong Country 3, it would be almost 15 years before Donkey Kong came back to deliver us another good 2D platformer.
It wasn't thanks to Rare that we got this next great Donkey Kong Country game. No instead it was thanks to Retro, the same team that just somehow pulled off one of the greatest things to ever happen to media in fucking Metroid Prime out of nowhere, that Donkey Kong came back. 2010 saw Donkey Kong Country Returns and hoo boy, this is some good shit. It is familiar and feels very much like a DKC game, but hot damn does it also feel fresh. This is no more perfectly captured than by the main title theme of the game.
HOT DAMN these beats are so damn fantastic. If you're nostalgic for the '90s (since it was probably the last time you felt any level of happiness) and the days you may have spent enjoying the classic Super Nintendo console. This tune is very much a remix of the classic Donkey Kong Country theme and it hits me with irony. In the original game's opening, DK swings in like an RKO outta nowhere and kicks Cranky to the curb for playing his out-of-date tunes, and this feels like it does the same thing. The classic was certainly great, but this just elevates it to an insane level. But the team at Retro was not done there.
The next Donkey Kong Country title, 2014's Tropical Freeze, is widely considered one of the greatest platformers of all time, and the soundtrack is very much a reason why. Another example of there being simply too many hype-inducing tracks to pick from. So, let's keep with the theme of dope remixes of classic tunes. The original Aquatic Ambiance is not my personal favourite track from the original trilogy, but it is for a lot of people and for good reason. It definitely slaps with the right amount of ambiance (please laugh). While Returns had its own remix that is certainly good, the Tropical Freeze one is straight-up sexy.
Oh, that is just *chef's kiss*. I love these tracks and the soundtracks from which they come so much. I hope this took you back to memories you may have of the classic Super Nintendo games, and maybe made you consider picking up a DKC game once again. Tropical Freeze was ported to the Nintendo Switch (with a New Funky Mode) and is genuinely worth playing if you can. I hope your weekend is as hype as either of these tunes, and I'll see you next week with another suggestion from my Music Box.
P.S. the originals, in case you wanna really go back: