Mar 292017


One of the absolute greatest games of all time also sports a peppy, anxious soundtrack. Listen as we gush over this 1994 re-imagining of Nintendo’s oldest rivalry.

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00:00 – Title Screen

08:47 – Big City

11:00 – Desert

17:32 – Theme 2

19:08 – Theme 5

19:54 – Theme 6

24:13 – Big Battle

25:09 – Scaling the Tower

26:00 – Showdown at the Tower

28:49 – Giant Donkey Kong

36:11 – Staff Roll

  11 Responses to “VGMpire 134 – Donkey Kong 94”

  1. Pardon me, but I’ve gotta gush. Donkey Kong ’94 is one of my all-time favorites, top five for sure, and I was absolutely floored when it made the VGA list.

    I had obsession and rage issues with video games as a kid that my parents didn’t like, so after a couple of botched runs with the NES and the Genesis, they didn’t let me own consoles. But for some reason, I was allowed to own a Game Boy. I got Donkey Kong for Christmas from my grandparents and was like, “Great, cool. Donkey Kong. I’ll have one good afternoon with this probably.” And then of course, the famous misdirect, and I was all in.

    Say what you want about the “relative capabilities” of the Game Boy, but “Showdown at the Tower” is metal as fuck, better than the final boss theme even. Sad that Taisuke Araki didn’t do much VGM work, he had real chops.

    In my opinion, Mario vs. Donkey Kong was a failure largely because they made the trinket collection compulsory. You didn’t HAVE to get the parasol, hat, and purse to earn three stars or an S grade or whatever; the only competitive element was against yourself, to finish levels faster or self-impose arbitrary challenges. I like games that allow me that choice. In MvDK, if you wanted to get a 3-star grade on a level, you had to collect the blue, yellow, and red bubbles and complete the stage by a certain time, and in games where I’m graded on a level-by-level basis, it’s very difficult for me to move on from a level having not aced it, so the momentum that builds when you just run level to level gets lost.

    I think the series lost a lot of people as it leaned ever more heavily on the Minis, but there is one game that is unequivocally worth checking out—Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move, which came out on the 3DS eShop in 2013. It ditches the platforming for a smooth, creamy mixture of Lemmings, Tetris, and Pipe Dream. Highly recommended, especially the Puzzle Palace mode.

  2. Not on….iTunes yet……must……be patient…..AAARRRGHHHHH!

  3. Great episode. DK94 is one of my favorite ever games as well; to this day there still aren’t many games that grant you that level of mobility and every follow up to DK94 felt like I had to put up with artificial limitations on the move set and they just weren’t as fun because of it.

    Also the soundtrack was really good and had a few neat aspects: when you beat the game on the Super Game Boy, the ending credits theme actually gets upgraded to SNES quality sound, complete with strings:

    Also, you should totally check out the Jeremy Parish approved Etrian Odyssey Untold soundtrack. Its a 3DS remake of the original DS version and has an option to switch between an uncompressed version of the Genesissy Yuzo Koshiro soundtrack or a brand new orchestral version. They’re both outrageous. For example:

    This is the FM Synth version of one of the random battle tracks:

    And this is updated version:

    Both versions of the soundtrack maintain that level of quality and I still cant decide on which is better.

    • So I just watched the Power Ranger videos you guys had and thought the music was awesome. I looked up the soundtracks for the first game on the SNES as well as the movie game and they’re both excellent. The soundtrack for the original Power Rangers was composed by 2 Konami vets, Iku Mizutani and Kinuyo Yamashita. Iku Mizutani worked on the soundtrack for the first Metal Gear and Kinuyo Yamashita, who originally composed Vampire Killer from Castlevania 1, so they’re both solid. Heres a song from the first one:

      The soundtrack for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie: the Game: featuring Ivan Ooze is evidently composed by Yasumasa Yamada, a composer for SNK. I’m not so sure on that one as he isn’t credited with the game on VGMDB. Anyhoo, heres a hot track from that game:

  4. The Shodown at the Tower made me think, “man, is this just noise, not music?” But the rhythm in 8bit games is so pleasant to me, I wonder if it’s just having grown up with the bleeps and noises that makes it sound like music, but it always delights me to hear it.

    I still have the GBA player hooked up to my GameCube under my TV, I probably played more Game boy and GBA games on it than GameCube games, since I didn’t have to find direct sunlight to see games enough to play that way.

  5. April Fools! Seriously, I had NEVER heard of this game before this episode posted(exposing my only 8/16-bit knowledge gap: handhelds). My first thought was, “DK 94? He must mean DKC. But wait, this is an amazing Gameboy game from Nintendo? Wha??” Then, when I wasn’t able to download the episode from iTunes, my suspicion was that it was a botched April Fools joke. Watching a few YouTube clips set me straight….man, as much as I hate playing Gameboy games, this looks like a must-play!

    So which dev house made this game? If it had Mario 64-style moves, I would either assume Miyamoto was involved in it, or really saw potential in Mario’s move set. I’m also really interested in who composed the music. It all had that TG-16-esque sawtooth bass that I’m kinda ambivalent about, but all the music was at least decent, and some of the tracks were really good! Especially “Big Battle”, which sounded American(i.e. western without arpeggios), with its repetitive beat and counter melodies, and loooong guitar solo.

    It’s funny that you told the story about your being grounded every year after your birthday; just yesterday I re-listened the Super Adventure Island and Mega Drive Medley episodes, and on one of those you told that same story the first time on the show.

    The sample of Daisy yelling “help!” Sounds a lot like a peacock. I think I’ve heard you mimic that call, and I just assumed you were making bird noises.

    So I really liked this episode. It was quite a bit shorter than your normal episodes, and it focused on one game instead of a series. But neither of these things detracted in any way…..any time you want to throw out a 40 minute show on a single game, please go for it!

  6. fuck yes, best ep in a long time

  7. I adooooorrrre Donkey Kong ’94, although it took me a very long time to complete it. I first heard about it in an old Nintendo Power (with the game being featured on the cover), then borrowed the cart from a childhood friend, but didn’t get super far. I then bought the cartridge wayyyy later, got pretty far, and then restarted on 3DS and beat it just about 2 years ago. The game is hella long, but I love its charm. Mario was a lot of fun to control, had all these cool moves and mechanics, and the music was pretty cute. I particular loved the death jingles, such as Mario getting burned into a crisp. It’s a short jingle but I always snapped my fingers to it and went “ba-BA-ba-BA-ba-BA-YER DEAD!”

    Some of Mario’s deaths seemed so brutal but the death jingles just made them hilarious for some reason:

    And the temporary bridge jingle, totally goofy:

    Some of my fave themes:
    Stage Theme 7 (always equated those really high-pitched parts to the sounds of kids shrieking in a playground, I dunno why):

  8. […] Today we’ll play the “fake out” portion of the game, then the first City area. And if you want to hear us talk about the music, hit up VGMpire why don’t ya? […]

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