By Kiah Easton, Staff Writer
Composed by Haijime Wakai
Among countless acclaimed Nintendo releases, Pikmin still stands out for its overflowing creativity and memorable musical accompaniments. This musical experience was composed by Hajime Wakai, a staple of the Nintendo staff with credit to the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Super Smash Brothers Melee, and Star Fox 64. Displaying thematic consistency that never sacrifices variability, the OST carries the player through a foreign Pikmin world with hints of magical curiosity and brain-boosted intelligence.
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The story of Pikmin begins with an astronaut named Olimar flying through space. Hit by an asteroid, his ship plummets to a foreign planet. Soon after landing, Olimar encounters several small root-vegetable-like creatures who seem to follow his commands without asking anything in return. Dubbing the small creatures Pikmin, Olimar begins collecting more to aid in his escape from the planet. The aliens help find ship parts as Olimar slowly runs out of breathable air in his space suit.
The sparkling melody of “The Forest of Hope” arrives soon after Olimar’s arrival on the planet. Olimar begins to understand how the foreign species of Pikmin can help him off the planet, and he is able to find enough parts of his ship to travel to another section of the planet to continue salvaging lost parts. This score spurs a cautious sense of optimism that supports the player’s progress through the game. Composer Haijime Wakai masterfully crafts each melodic phrase — a question and a statement simultaneously. The composition excels in conveying multiple layers of emotion, pushing the player to reach deeper into the jungle, without forgetting the dire state that our tiny astronaut is stuck in.
Through the mesh of conventional instruments and digital synthesizer fx, the setlist feels familiarly organic, augmented just enough to create the feeling of uncanny valley, an alien mimicry of what the listener knows. “Go To Planet Hokotate”, “Today’s Results” and “Distant Spring” exemplify this alienated feeling. In “Today’s Results” a classical sounding melody is fused with fluttering digital rhythms. The fusion breaks through the familiarity of the songs, transporting you to another planet.
The Pikmin’s devotion and obedience to Olimar are reflected within the soundtrack through a rhythmic marching band motif. Reflexively, the Pikmin march behind Olimar through his journey on the planet, following his every command. The marching band aesthetic doubles in functionality, conveying a sense of urgency. Given only 30 “game days” to complete the game, each second counts. Despite the relaxing, ethereal guise conveyed on the surface, undertones of tension course through every piece.
Pikmin stands on its own for its sparkling story and creative characters; however, it’s the soundtrack that glues and develops the experience into one of the most memorable games that’s still appreciated by many today. The OST could be considered an emotional backbone to the entire story. Wakai’s composition consistently supports and emboldens the emotions experienced by Olimar, projecting his emotions sonically. This peace will forever remain one of the most concrete examples of video game scores done correctly. It does not demand your focus, but slips behind your consciousness and heightens the experience in every nook and cranny.
Listen to the soundtrack here: