Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
The enchanting soundtrack for Donkey Kong Country 2 was composed by David Wise. No stranger to simian-symphonies, David also created the music for DKC2‘s predecessor Donkey Kong Country, and went on to score a hat trick by composing for the third installment of the series (Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble).
The three games did battle to make it onto this list, copious bananas were thrown and many monkey tantrums were had. It is undoubtable that all three soundtracks have something brilliant to bring to the table, but DKC2 climbed slightly higher up the musical tree.
Whether you’re hopping across lava, riding an undead rollercoaster or swinging through a haunted jungle, the soundtrack adds an atmospheric layer to the the game which will give you goosebumps! Wise certainly set the bar high for any video game composers of the future and the DKC2 soundtrack is still to this day, a force to be reckoned with.
Battletoads In Battlemaniacs
Once again the name David Wise is popping up. Yes, the same man responsible for the beautiful DKC2 soundtrack, also composed the music for Battletoads In Battlemaniacs!
Battletoads is notorious for being one of the most difficult SNES games of all time. The levels can be cruel and ruthless and only the most seasoned SNES gamers will have ever completed the game. Mere mortals are likely to hit a wall on the “Turbo Tunnel” level, where superhuman timing is needed to make it to the end. The fact the game is so difficult can make it frustrating to play, but the soundtrack will likely be a factor to gamers forgiving the cruelty and enjoying the game for what it is: an epic journey into hell.
One could describe the Battletoads soundtrack as SNES-Metal. The guitar riffs and drum beats compliment the pace and manner of the game, in a way that encourages chaos and drives you to keep going, try again and fight harder! You may never defeat the infamous Turbo Tunnel but if you are a fan of Retro games music, the SNES-Metal will leave you with a smile on your face and eternally wanting more.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a playful run-and-gun game developed by LucasArts, with a spooky soundtrack composed by Joe McDermott in 1993. ZAMN see’s the player take control of Zeke or Julie, tasked with the unpleasant mission of clearing their neighbourhood of a plethora of zombies and ghouls, and rescuing unfortunate citizens caught in the middle of the mayhem. The game is arguably light-hearted as it does not include the blood and gore we often see in zombie based games. The scariest thing about this game is definitely the sinister soundtrack.
One level will see you being chased through a huge maze by masked men wielding chainsaws. The music on this level seems to be based on and built around the “we’re gonna get you” taunt, and certainly makes you feel that your peril is imminent. Overall the soundtrack for ZAMN hits the nail on the head, with music you would expect in a 90’s zombie game and sounds like it belongs in a haunted house fairground ride.
Earthworm Jim is perhaps one of the strangest protagonists to set “foot” in the gaming world. Jim (the earthworm) controls a robotic body through side-scrolling levels and deals with a variety of strange villains such as Evil The Cat and Psy-Crow. Created by Doug TeNaple. The game was originally released on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis but was later ported onto the SNES.
The soundtrack, composed by Mark Miller, has an industrial flavour which cleverly matches the general theme of the the game. After all, you’re a tiny earthworm commanding a robotic suit! The pace of the music is brilliant in that it generally stays quite mellow throughout the game but layer by layer becomes more complex and interesting. Although mellow, the music can become bouncy and upbeat, which may inspire some weird SNES induced dance-moves. If you’re the type of person who could get bored of controlling an earthworm who’s controlling a robotic body (anyone? no?), rest assured that the music will keep you interested and engaged in this thoroughly bizarre game.
The first of the Starfox series blasted onto our screens in 1993, delivering us with an epic futuristic dog-fighting adventure. Developed and published by Nintendo, Starfox is a rail-shooter in a first and third-person 3D perspective. The player must navigate Fox’s airwing through levels filled with obstacles and enemies, with a final score being given at the end of the level based on how successful you were at blowing things to smithereens.
The rather serious soundtrack for Starfox was composed by Hajime Hirasawa and is certainly a masterpiece which was beyond it’s time. If you actually listen to the soundtrack from start to finish (118 minutes of space-age joy), Hirasawa’s music will carry your mind through pixellated interstellar space.
Although the soundtrack did not receive any particular recognition in comparison to soundtracks for other games, it does well to resist the “pew-pew-pewing” that can be heard in many other space-themed SNES games. This is what makes the Starfox soundtrack stand out, it manages to retain a futuristic sound without being too playful or a cliche.
There you have it, our picks for some of the best and most memorable soundtracks from the SNES era. While the technology may have been limiting, these artists managed to make the most of it and still create engaging soundtracks. So what are some of your favorite SNES soundtracks that we may have missed?