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Game Sound Museum ~Famicom Edition~ 03 Donkey Kong Jr. :: Review by Chris

Game Sound Museum ~Famicom Edition~ 03 Donkey Kong Jr. Album Title: Game Sound Museum ~Famicom Edition~ 03 Donkey Kong Jr.
Record Label: Scitron Digital Contents
Catalog No.: SDEX-0012
Release Date: April 28, 2004
Purchase: Buy at eBay


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 third disc of the series was dedicated to the music of the NES port of Donkey Kong Jr..


Like most entries to the Game Sound Museum ~Famicom Edition~ series, the Donkey Kong Jr. soundtrack features an extremely short soundtrack, mainly compromised of jingles and sound effects. Nevertheless, the soundtrack is a little more elaborate than the Donkey Kong soundtrack, given this time here are four levels each with their own background music and level clear jingles. This is particularly reflected by the three minute in-game audio recording, which shows the constant variation and adaptability of the sound during the course of the game.

Each background track was composed to specifically complement the action in the gameplay. "Level 1 BGM", for example, represents starting off with its steady pace and repeating motif. "Level 2 BGM" is a little more frantic due to its random interruptions with descending arpeggios, while "Level 3 BGM" descends to random electronic noise altogether. The final level theme is still very repetitive, but is able to motivate listeners at the end of the game.

The jingles are once again the most memorable features of the game. The level clear fanfares are particularly effective and the decision to use a different one for each level makes the experience all the more intricate and personal. For those looking for strong melodies, the main theme for the series sadly does not return here and the replacement is effective yet generic. Fewer tracks are likely to be recognised here by old-timers and none of the music here was built upon in later additions of the series.


The Donkey Kong Jr. score makes one distinction very clear. The game's audio creator, Yukio Kaneoka, is clearly very capable of integrating music and sound effects into gameplay in an adaptive way and was certainly ahead of his time. However, he is less capable of producing particularly memorable or elaborate music, in part due to the technological restrictions available. Donkey Kong Jr. is a step forward in terms of interactivity, but a step backwards in terms of memorability. 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 six minutes in length and is rather unmemorable.

Overall Score: 6/10