Dec 212014


Our first ever Album of the Year award goes to David Wise’s stunning Tropical Freeze OST. Its varied set list, consistent quality and overall VGM-ness makes it the best video game soundtrack of the year. Discuss!


As you may have heard in the Year in Review episode, there was some stiff competition in 2014. Smash Bros was a formidable soundtrack destined to please just about all who hear it. Destiny has immense financial backing and a great pedigree working on the tunes. But at the end of the year, it was DKCTF that remained.

To me it represents the best of modern game music (great samples, great live instruments, ambient when appropriate), classic VGM values (super melodic and listenable, stuck-in-your-headiness) and works as a great example of how talented game composers need to be to fill out a massive soundtrack. Funk? Got it. Country? Here too. Metal? Hoo boy, you’re covered. Harmonizing chants? Somehow, yes! It’s all present and done exceedingly well. PLUS plenty of classic DKC jams get spiffy remixes, such as Aquatic Ambience, Stickerbrush Symphony and Fear Factory.

So yeah. An amazing piece of work and one I can’t recommend enough.

And FWIW we covered the SNES games back in episode 47. It’s a great way to catch up in case you haven’t listened to any of the OSTs ever / in a while, plus it’s just a great episode – we’re all on fire and have some great jabs at each other :3

Thanks for listening, and hopefully you enjoy this extra special episode!

  17 Responses to “VGMpire AOTY 2014 – DKC Tropical Freeze”

  1. Oooh! Yay! this is an awesome extra gift for the end of the year! Thanks Brett! 😀

  2. You da bomb Brett! Thank you.

  3. Awesome! Gosh I wish nintendo would put this, mk8, a link between worlds, Mario 3d world, etc on iTunes/Amazon.

  4. Pleasantly surprised with this new episode. perfect for this pre-holyday days in the job.

  5. Haha YES!! I now totally get why you didn’t mention Tropical Freeze on the 2014 roundup ep.

    Tropical Freeze is my favorite VGM OST of this year as well, followed closely by Shovel Knight. Seriously needs an official CD release like WHOA. I’d throw many bananas at that.

    And you guys even picked most of my favorite tunes, like Alpine Incline – Mountain, Grassland Groove, Big Top Bop and Windmill Hills. Windmill Hills is just so awesome. I have a friend who was also reviewing the game like I was and both of us kept talking about how great this tune is. It has a great, joyfully bluegrassy feel to it with an exceptional use of the harmonica. Like Brett said, it just really puts you in a good mood.

    I would also like to add “Alpine Incline – Ground” as one of the best tracks in the game. You guys actually played the second half of the Alpine Incline level’s music. It’s separated by an initial ground level where it plays an awesomely synthy track that’s sort of like a Stickerbrush Symphony 2, while “Alpine Incline – Mountain” (the track that closed out the show) is the track that plays when you get on a hot-air balloon in that same level.

    Another great new track is “Scorch n’ Torch,” which is very much Phil Collins.

    It’s important to note that some of the tracks (like Grassland Groove) loop a certain way until you reach a latter part of the stage, where the music will shift into new, fresh ideas. Most game rips of the soundtrack have it so that they mesh each new section into one continuous track.

    So while you guys did mention Kenji Yamamoto by name, you forgot to mention that he actually co-composed the soundtrack with David Wise. Unfortunately, nobody knows who exactly composed what for the game, but some fans surmise that Yamamoto worked more on DKC remixes while Wise focused on original tracks.

    Speaking of remixes, this OST has some really awesome ones. Everything from Stickerbrush Symphony to Lockjaw’s Saga. And the return of Aquatic Ambience is oh-so amazing.

    Oh yeah, and the game’s pretty great too 😛 Super challenging, but not as hair-pulling and frustrating as DKC Returns 3D was for me. I think we can all agree those no-checkpoint levels can suck a fat one, though. Bring a co-op partner!

  6. A worthy game for sure but I still prefer the Transistor soundtrack.

  7. I had listened to the full album back when the game came out, and while I felt it was good, Not a lot of it stood out to me. Re-listening to the tracks highlighted in this episode though, I can definitely understand why this won AOTY. The variety of styles alone makes it the most versatile soundtrack of the year.

    Though personally, I still like Shovel Knight’s soundtrack better because it just spoke to me more. I felt like there was so much energy in most of the tracks, and had a TON of great and infectious melodies. Whereas Tropical Freeze’s songs are very pleasant to listen to, I don’t find myself humming them afterwards, with a lot of SK’s tunes though, happens every single time.

    Still, just happy to have gotten even MORE VGMpire and songs to listen to ^^ Honestly Brett, I know you’re a very busy man, and can’t do this often or longer, but I am always left wanting more of this show.

    Also, stop underselling that Romance of the Three Kingdoms episode! I’ve listened to it like 5 times already, and it might be my favorite single episode of VGMpeire this year. And I haven’t touched ANY of those games!

  8. Thanks so much for another great episode Brett! I love the idea of doing an album of the year. This soundtrack is seriously great, made my commute home today 100% more bearable.

  9. I haven’t picked up the game yet, but I’m anxious to check out this episode. hope we get one of these every year

  10. I would’ve picked Shovel Knight or Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse for AOTY because I’m an unabashed virt fan, but any David Wise soundtrack is worthy of being top of the heap. Thank you for the extra episode!

  11. no time stamps? i am dissapoint

  12. Great stuff, Brett! I love all the songs you picked. My personal favorite from the soundtrack is Scorch ‘n’ Torch. The music captures the feel of the burning savannah so perfectly, it’s insane. Glad to hear that you enjoyed this soundtrack as much as I did!

  13. Wow, this soundtrack was way more diverse than I thought it was going to be. Nice find!

  14. I really jumped the gun in my “Year in Review” comment. I was so disappointed that Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze was left out. Well…it was only so it could be emphasized in its own episode! I was really glad about this. It definitely deserved to be highlighted. Well done, and here’s looking forward to a fun 2015!

  15. […] around my 100th listen to the Tropical Freeze soundtrack, I started thinking about how game music has conditioned me to enjoy types of music I’d […]

  16. […] Composer David Wise took some time and answered a series of questions centered around Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which won the 2014 Album of the Year award. Please give that episode a listen if you missed it! […]

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