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Donkey Kong Country 3 – “Rockface Rumble” (Eveline Fischer)

February 19, 2010
On a bit of a Donkey Kong Country spree this week – today is “Rockface Rumble” from Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie’s Double Trouble (1996), one of the last titles on the SNES. This is also one of the better pieces from a soundtrack (and gameplay, for that matter) that didn’t have nearly as an appeal feel as the two previous games – but it still makes for some of the best mountain climbing music in a videogame.

Donkey Kong Country 3 – “Rockface Rumble” (Eveline Fischer)
“Rockface Rumble” begins with some wind SFX for a David Wise trademark start, but this time it’s his collaborator from Donkey Kong Country, Eveline Fischer (Donkey Kong 64, Kameo). The bulk of this song is controlled by a powerful set of heavy drums, with flutes and strings used for melodic emphasis rather than main melody, which is filled by the drums. Later on, a rock guitar is added with the same effect to fill out the end of the piece. The instrument collection – in particular the drums – give a great sense of mountain music, the drums giving the height and weight of the rocks with flute and strings illustrating the high peaks, driving the player indominatably and steadily upward. Ultimately, I think the best part of the song is the drums – it’s a really great beat that holds the whole thing together and as a rarity makes up the core of the melody with the other instruments only adding color and emphasis to it. Those qualities also make the track memorable. However, the loop is kind of short at only 1:07, but it’s a sweet minute of music.
Like yesterday’s Daily, this is an spc rip rather than from the album – the original version has a longer fade-out of about 30 seconds rather than the 10 used in the spc. However, the Donkey Kong Country Trilogy soundtrack (released through the Nintendo Power Supplies Catalogue in 1996) is now incredibly rare with high-quality mp3s hard to come by – which is a shame considering how well the music still holds up together today. While it might seem an odd choice that the soundtrack to the third game was released on the same day, you also have to keep in mind that this would have been catering to listeners who had already purchased the first two albums.
Sadly, DKC3 doesn’t stand up to the previous titles. While the graphics were markedly improved, the speed and pacing of the game seems to have been lowered to keep frame rates up, which makes the game play far slower and less excitingly. Level designs don’t stand up in my mind, and even the soundtrack isn’t terribly memorable (excepting a few other tracks like “Nuts and Bolts”, “Hot Pursuit”, and David Wise’s crazily awesome “Dixie Beat” title theme; the logo is also worth looking at, too for its clever music box reference – which now comes off as pretty silly now that I look at it fourteen years later!). Come to think of it, the character designs weren’t that good either (I can’t even remember the name of the other monkey! (He didn’t control very well too!) I suppose Eveline Fischer’s more subdued, bassier, and less jazzy take on the series didn’t help (David Wise didn’t compose any level themes).  So even though I purchased this game new as well, it just didn’t hold up to the expectations set for me by the second one. DKC3 also had the misfortune of coming out at the same time as the N64, which probably helped sales as much as a poor review score.
In case you were wondering, I have to add that the Donkey Kong Country levels and track names have these really strange titles using overly clever alliteration. Overall, it just shows how tired the franchise had gotten. They were really beginning to scrape the bottom of the monkey barrel on this one – but at least it wasn’t as bad as the “DK Rap” crap for Donkey Kong 64

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