For one reason or another, my roommate and I recently got the urge to play through all of the Donkey Kong Country games, 100%, one after the other. The first DKC was fun, as always, and went down quite quickly; Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest took a bit longer though. It wasn’t just that the game is longer and more difficult than its predecessor, it’s that it also got us to stop several times just to appreciate the music. Even in this age of fully orchestrated soundtracks, DKC2’s small selection of MIDI themes still sounds incredible, and Stickerbrush Symphony might just be among the best of the bunch!
(video by YouTube user: BrawlBRSTMs3X)
What is about this tune that leaves such an impact I wonder? It could be that it just plain stands out. The first stage that uses the theme, Bramble Blast, is encountered about half-way through the game. Up until this level, speed has sort of been the Kong’s ally. There’s never been a limit placed on it, and finishing a level quickly usually meant avoiding spending some of your hard-earned extra lives. However, that all changes in Bramble Blast. Instead of just letting you run through, this stage rewards patience. It requires you to wait and time your every move just right in order to progress. Fail to do so, and you could very easily find your Kongs getting shot into some nasty thorns. Rushing is not an option here, and the theme reflects that.
Until we first encounter Stickerbrush Symphony, just about every theme in the game was very fast-paced. They all had a quick tempo to encourage quick progression through their levels. Since that would be a problem in a stage like Bramble Blast, we instead get something slower that won’t make the player feel like they need to be moving quickly. It’s almost as if it’s there to say, “no need to rush; you’ve got all the time in the world.” It’s something that you more or less need to hear in order to break-out of the speedier mindset that the game’s encouraged thus far. The theme’s slow tempo isn’t the only thing that makes it stand out though.
I’d say it also has an air of mystery to it; a trance-like quality that draws the listener into the stage even as it tells them to chill and take their time with it. I’ve always found myself starting to examine the background of the stage as I’m listening to this song. I find myself wondering things like where exactly this giant thorn-bush is or just how high up in the air it is. There are of course no answers to be had since Bramble Blast is just another stage in an old platformer game, but I can’t help but ponder it as I make my way through it, and I’m absolutely certain that this song is the reason. Ah well, it’s fun nonetheless.
Even in a track as full of excellent music as DKC 2’s is, Stickerbrush Symphony still manages to stand out. It’s slower, more mysterious and more contemplative that every other theme in the game (with the possible exception of Forest Interlude), and that’s probably exactly why I love it so. Well, that and the nostalgia feels it brings on…those always help too. 😀
Do you have a favorite Donkey Kong Country theme? What aspect of it do you enjoy the most?