Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze came out recently, and it comes with a brilliant soundtrack composed by the original Donkey Kong Country composer himself. Nintendo Life spoke with David Wise about how he, the Rare composer, was reunited with the franchise. He claims it was the work of another Donkey Kong Country veteran—Michael Kelbaugh.

“It actually goes back to my days at Rare. Rare had various people coming over from America and Japan whilst we were working on the original DKC, one of which was Michael Kelbaugh, who is now the CEO and President of Retro Studios. The association made whilst we were doing the original game has proved very valuable; Michael phoned me up and asked if I’d be interested in working on Tropical Freeze.” — David Wise

According to Mr. Wise, the process of composing game music is
“almost identical” to what it was twenty years ago when he composed for the original Donkey Kong Country.

“On Tropical Freeze, I’d spend most of days in my studio in Nottingham
in my own little musical world, which is very similar to how I used to
work at Rare. Whilst we worked on site at Rare, the audio team had our
own offices away from the main development barn. Now, with super-fast
broadband and the internet, this cuts the distance world-wide down to
virtually nothing. Retro gave me a storyboard first of all with a basic
version of each level with minimum assets — enough to let me start
working on the initial music demonstration material. I knew exactly what
I was dealing with because Retro had previously made Donkey Kong Country Returns
on Wii; I knew thematically what to expect. Also, Retro Studios have a
very similar work ethos to how we used to work at Rare and I think this
shows in the quality of the finished game.”
— David Wise

He did visit the Austin-based Retro studios in person at least once, however, to meet with the team and get a sense of the environment there.

“I met with the team and also Kenji Yamamoto to discuss the direction
of the project. Then, throughout the project, I would have weekly monday
meetings with Scott Petersen, the audio manager over at Retro Studios.
Having previously visited the studio in Austin, it then helps to give
you a sense of the space and surroundings of the people you are talking
with over Skype. The internet has removed most of the barriers when it
comes to working over distance.”
— David Wise

Wise is a pretty big deal among Nintendo aficionados and game music gurus in general, but he admits it took him a while to become aware of it. Even so, he did not think the announcement of his involvement would make waves as big as it did.

“We probably didn’t realise it was going to have quite the impact that
it did have. A lot of people picked up on it. However, if it
wasn’t for the original game — along with the quality of the new game
from Retro — the new soundtrack would have meant nothing.”
— David Wise

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze is available now for the Nintendo Wii U, with all of Wise’s magical melodies for you to enjoy while avoiding spikes, holes, and disgruntled birds.

Source: Nintendo Life

Our Verdict

Stefan Terry
One of my earliest memories with games was just after Pokémon had come out in the states for the first time. I remember, after having watched the show for a couple weeks, stumbling across a friend with an original Gameboy playing Pokémon Red version using a Weedle. When he told me he was playing Pokémon, I told him I didn't know there was a Pokémon that had a pumpkin for a head. Boy games have come a long way. Speaking of games, I also contribute to making them somewhat professionally, and ocassionaly write about them. You should see some of that games writing stuff, I hear it's real popular with the kids these days.


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