Welcome to Toxic Thursdays! This will be a weekly column where I analyze some historical aspect of the gaming community. I plan on doing a short analysis that could include anything from the gaming industry, be it game characters, series, creators, composers, voice actors, or even companies! A small tidbit about me: I’m a history major with a specialization in American Studies. I’m a history buff, and sometimes I find myself just browsing the web for stories from the past. Since this is just a blog, I won’t post my sources or cite them. Rest assured, I take pride in my work, and you can bet that everything I post will be of my own doing. Also, I make mistakes too! If you feel like I’ve done something wrong, feel free to correct me if you can back up your claim!
Today I thought I’d start this column off by doing a short piece on my favorite composer from the gaming world: David Wise. David Wise is a composer from England who started his career working for the video game company Rare Ltd. Some of his first compositions were for games such as Slalom and Wizards and Warriors in the mid-1980s. Wise really started to hit his stride in the 1990s with releases such as Battletoads, the Donkey Kong Country series (although it should be noted that he was accompanied by Robin Beanland and Eveline Fischer in DKC1 and just Eveline Fischer in DKC3), and Diddy Kong Racing. The Donkey Kong Country series has received critical acclaim for its soundtracks, and they have been very popular amongst the remixing communities, such as OCRemix. A common misconception is that Wise also composed the soundtrack for Donkey Kong 64, but that was actually composed by his friend and colleague Grant Kirkhope of Banjo-Kazooie fame.
Wise has maintained a steady style throughout the years. His works are often very rhythmic, featuring very prominent bass lines and repetitive sections. Phaser effects, reverb, and echoes are also very apparent. His music is usually either very upbeat and rhythmic, as seen in much of the Battletoads soundtrack, or very somber and mellow, as seen in almost all of the Donkey Kong Country 2 soundtrack.
Wise made an appearance with colleagues Grant Kirkhope and Robin Beanland to remix a track from Donkey Kong Country 2 for the fan-made OCRemix album Serious Monkey Business, which recreated the entire Donkey Kong Country 2 soundtrack (There is also one for the first and third game, all of which are free for download on OCRemix.com!). The track was a recreation of the track “Donkey Kong Rescued” and it is titled “Re-Skewed.”
Wise left Rare in 2009, his last gaming compositions being Viva Piñata and War World for the Xbox 360. He is quoted as stating from his Facebook page “I think the business of Rare has changed a great deal, and at the moment there is just not the opportunity to create the soundtracks that Rare were fortunately very famous for.” He now works as a freelance composer from his personal studio: ‘David Wise Sound Studio.’
That wraps it up for this week. I have some additional and fairly recent interviews with Wise posted in the links below. Please give me feedback, and expect improvement as time goes on. It was only my first try! :D