in my video game music listening it’s become apparent that a great in-game soundtrack does not necessarily make the best out-of-game listening. the soundtrack to pikmin, by hajime wakai, is worthwhile listening both in and out of the game, though. wakai, who has also worked on star fox 64, f-zero x, and the wind waker, was mistaken for koji kondo (super mario bros. 1-3, pretty much all the zelda games) in two places i saw online, and it’s not surprising because his sound has a very similar feel. like kondo he’s clearly masterful at setting moods, and the music has a whimsical, cartoony, old-school feel that fits perfectly with nintendo’s biggest classics in general and this game in particular. since the vast majority of the music of the game is packed into the tracks for the five areas of the game (which on average are each more than 5 minutes long), a lot of the rest of the tracks are short, although perfectly serviceable riffs.
although some have complained that the music of the five areas gets repetitive, i didn’t get tired of them. each has its own mood and all are quite nicely done: there’s a backyard exploration feel to “the impact site”; a dreaminess to “the forest of hope”; a pensiveness to “the distant spring”; and an impending feeling of both doom and triumph to “the final trial”. and worth a separate mention is “the forest navel” which brilliantly matches that barren and fiery environment with sparse slide guitar and exotic tablas. lovely. the orchestrations in particular are very nicely done all around. in general the score favors the vibraphone and the piano, giving the score a nice breezy feel. electronic sounds are nicely woven in throughout, fitting for a spaceman exploring a lush “alien” world.
all in all, this is a fine soundtrack with a very classic nintendo feel and an easy favorite. as a bonus the soundtrack includes japanese and french versions of a song that was featured in overseas commercials and which according to wikipedia apparently became a big hit in japan. this site has a translation of the full song’s lyrics. and now i have the soundtrack of pikmin 2 to look forward to. 😉