Game Sound Museum ~Famicom Edition~ 02 Donkey Kong
On April 2004, Scitron released the Game Sound Museum ~Famicom Edition~ series. It comprised a set of 21 mini CDs containing music from Nintendo games developed for the Famicom (aka Nintendo Entertainment System) and the Famicom Disk System. It features complete scores from a variety of popular and historically significant games, spanning classics such as Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and The Legend of Zelda to relative obscurities such as Wrecking Crew, Shin Onigashima, and Kid Icarus. The second disc of the series was dedicated to the music of the NES port of Donkey Kong.
Like most entries to the Game Sound Museum ~Famicom Edition~ series, the Donkey Kong soundtrack features an extremely short soundtrack, mainly compromised of jingles and sound effects. Nevertheless, those jingles that do appear have become immortalised in popular game culture. Most notably, "Title BGM" has gone on to become the main theme for the franchise and was greatly elaborated upon in Rare's soundtracks. Likewise "Game Start" — an ominous eight second jingle used to introduce the antagonist Donkey Kong — will be known by anyone who played the Arcade game or listened to "Do the Donkey Kong".
Yukio Kaneoka created several different pieces of background music for the core platform-climbing gameplay. "25M (Level 1) BGM" will be known for anyone who struggled to get through the first level of the game. It's little more than a steady arpeggio pattern, but seems to complement Mario's movement well. "Hammer BGM" is equally short, but an amusing variation on steeplechase music, while the stage clear and radar jingles are humble yet fulfilling chiptunes. On the other hand, "Hurry Up! ~ Miss" and "100M (Level 3)" are even more minimal and probably won't be remembered by those who played the game.
In several cases, the soundtrack blurs the distinction between sound effects and music. "75M (Level 2) BGM", in particular, doesn't deserve to be listed as 'background music' at all. At the end of the album, gamers are offered a three minute audio recording of a successful playthrough of the game. It is a rather disorientating listen dominated by sound effects, though it's still fascinating to hear how the game adapts to the events of the game. It's clearly a good early effort to use background music and sound effects in an interactive way.
The original Donkey Kong was released in Arcades in 1981 before being adapted for consoles. Unsurprisingly, its score was therefore primitive, relying entirely on very short jingles and sound effects. Nevertheless, Yukio Kaneoka still managed to offer something surprisingly effective by carefully matching the music and sound effects use to the game. Furthermore, his choice of jingles ensures that the score will still be memorable and charming for those who revisit the game 30 years on. Though Scitron did a good job representing the score in this single, only hardcore fans or historians should consider purchasing it; after all, it is just five minutes in length and lacks particularly substantial highlights.
25M (Level 1) BGM
Hurry Up! ~ Miss
25M (Level 1) / 75M (Level 2) BGM
75M (Level 2) BGM
100M (Level 3) BGM
100M (Level 3) Clear