Music in Pikmin 3
The soundtrack to Pikmin 3 was composed by Asuka Hayazaki, Atsuko Asahi, and Hajime Wakai, under no official name. Like the previous soundtracks in the series, all the sounds are synthesized or samples attempting to mimic real instruments. This installment of the series features the most advanced sound technology yet, producing very realistic representations of real instruments. However, unlike the music in the previous game, this game's music is all pre-rendered, not played note-by-note in real time; this allows for new instruments, new textures, and new experimentation with sound, at the cost of a less flexible soundtrack.
It should be noted that all titles for Pikmin 3 music in this article and elsewhere are conjectural, as the tracks have no known official names.
These are small gestures that reappear throughout the game suggesting ideas or setting moods.
The menus of the game have looping music beds that play the environment presented in the menu. Normally that environment has a spatial view of PNF-404, so the menu themes in this game especially adhere to presenting a suggestion of space and spaceships (the main menu being the exception).
The main theme of the game, heard in the main menu. This fluent, swirling demonstration of the music program's aptitude continues the tradition of main themes being waltzes, although this one is the longest and most complex of the three. A harp and glockenspiel are most prominent with the melody (a transformation of the Pikmin 2 motif into a scalar gesture), along with one grand flourish in the harp when the melody returns. Strings provide harmonies and interest using pizzicato and small divisi solos. Finally, the small sounds kalimba and marimba distinguish this as a Pikmin theme. The whole theme definitely plays the natural beauty of PNF-404; when it concludes, birdsong and rushing water sounds fade in, while the ensemble drones quietly around F major and its progression, a few instruments playing the Pikmin 2 motif here and there.
Heard when selecting a day to start from in the Story mode. The mood of this composition switches drastically from the main menu's, as the spatial view of PNF-404 and the focus on the Koppaite explorers demands a theme regarding Koppai. As such, the music is highly synthezised, with drones in synth string bass, oscillating harmonic accents, and spacey background sound effects over a bed of very shimmery overtone sounds and one panning drum-machine cowbell. The melody in this ballad-like drone is difficult to make out, but it begins as a development of the Pikmin 2 motif. One of the instruments playing the melody (especially discernible at the end of the loop) is a cymbalesque synthesizer that first debuted in Pikmin in The Distant Spring's theme. It will recur throughout the music of this game; it is a sound unique to the Pikmin series.
Heard after the S.S. Drake takes off at the end of a day. This theme is a remaster of the "today's report" theme of the previous two games. The bass-string drone is much more prominent in this version, which shows off the tune's progression of harmonies over a C bass. Also to note in this new version is a new oscillating chip-tone sound effect that accrues volume at the end of each measure. Some of the instruments in the mix have undergone a makeover, most particularly the arpeggiating instrument that in the first two games was more prominent; in this version it is a sound with low attack, making it sound like it is dragging. The main melodic instrument is still the same, however; it plays the separation of the spaceship from the natural ground environment.
Heard before the start of a day, inside the S.S. Drake. Perhaps the most synthetic theme in the game, this track entirely plays to the technology and environment of the S.S. Drake's interior. A simple melody in a sine-wave synthesizer plays as pad strings and rotary synthesizers evolve beneath it. An echoing drum machine eventually enters the mix, along with some sound effects that might resemble spaceship computer sounds. When addressing "space" themes in this game, sound effects that rise or fall chromatically seem to be popular; they occur in a majority of the menu themes.
Heard when selecting a Mission Mode stage. This menu has a spatial background, but the menu itself does not necessarily suggest space. Thus the theme is not synthesized to the same degree as the S.S. Drake theme, for example. A synthetic bass, elaborate percussion, and chromatic sound effects form the foundation, but a rousing string section, trumpets, and glockenspiel and xylophone dominate the melody. These more recognizable instruments aid the excitement of preparing for a Mission Mode stage.
Heard when selecting a Bingo Battle stage. This menu is very similar to the Mission Mode menu; in fact, this theme is the same theme, in the same key, merely played with half-time percussion. This time however, a fanfare announces the theme, and it is accented by trumpets, a tuba, a military percussion, again over a synthesized music bed and sound effects. The whole mood still captures the space background, but feels much more like an appropriate preparation for battle.
Heard during the results menu of a Mission mode stage, regardless of the results themselves. This is the Challenge Mode results theme from Pikmin 2; nothing was changed about it before it was used in this game. Using complex gestures in synthesized bass, marimba, and snare drum, this composition definitely conveys the relay of information. The melody, in a different meter and over a different harmonic progression, is the main motif from the "today's report" menu theme, again stating that this menu is the end of the mission.
Most of the cutscenes of the game have pre-rendered soundtracks, as they are usually a specified length. The theatrical cutscenes have a Hollywood-style orchestra to perform them, plus electronics. Meanwhile, the in-game cutscenes can sometimes have a looped theme, since dialog occurs over the cutscene that requires player input to progress. These cutscenes can be performed by a wide range of ensembles and electronics, as they all have varying moods and contexts to convey.
Heard after selecting the game from the Wii U menu, when it is loading. A theme rather dissimilar from anything else in the game, this quiet theme merely wanders in a simple waltz using instruments that are similar to real instruments but that have synthesized distinctions. The percussion is bottle-like, the melody is ocean-harp-like, and the string drone late in the tune is violin-like, but they all have intended differences from the real sound.
Heard during attraction mode, or when a new game begins. The first-ever narrator in the series (voice of Julian Macfarlane) reads the following passage, which contains key elements that change the soundtrack.
“Galactic date: 20XX. At the far reaches of space lies a planet on the brink of ruin. The planet's name: Koppai. Due to a booming population, booming appetites, and a basic lack of planning, Koppai's inhabitants have all but exhausted their food supply. Their only hope is to find another planet with edible matter. Accordingly, they send unmanned scout vessels called SPEROs out into space. To their dismay, the search is proving fruitless. Just as they're about to give up, the final vessel reports back with news of a miraculous discovery. They mobilize to investigate the planet which they name PNF-404. Koppai's last hope rests on three intrepid explorers. At last, the explorers' 279,000-light-year voyage nears its end. But, as they initiate the landing sequence, something goes horribly wrong.”
Before the passage begins, a dramatic percussion hit silences the audience, with a quiet A in bass strings immediately disconcerting the mood. After the galactic date, a synthesized bass joins this A, bringing overtones into the passing drone. Only when the narrator introduces Koppai does this texture change. Pad strings and a small gesture in a triangle wave follow the appearance of the planet, and tremolo strings in an F-Lydian chord accent the name "Koppai". The next sentence begins with a low tam-tam, and reverb from the previous gesture morphs into an organ-like synthesizer, violins playing open notes, and a small gesture in marimba accent Koppai's predicament, although focusing more still on its introduction. This fades into reverb; at "another planet", a new texture arrives. As it plays the technology of space travel and SPEROs, it is entirely synthesized, and quite major. Reverberant strings bring it down, however, clogging this initial texture until "to their dismay", when the whole texture ends on C minor and falters away. At "the final vessel", the music suddenly builds into a major orchestral sting, with full strings, horns, and timpani. The texture is by no means "miraculous" sounding; its dissonant blaring around D minor leaves the mood of PNF-404 very ambiguous. But this thins out to a simple triumphant counterpoint in pad strings when "they mobilize". At "Koppai's last hope", the theme gains power from a trumpet, and loses reverb to become more coherent. As the narrator pauses, a drum machine, timpani, and tambourine accent the space travel scene. A trumpet toots the triumphant "Koppaite motif", under a quiet chip-tone texture. A harp flourish sweeps out this beat at "nears its end". The music is now continued in the orchestra, but it quickly spirals into dissonant whole-tone harmonies as "they initiate the landing sequence". Percussion mounts the tension until the big release at "something goes horribly wrong", when the resolving high D sustains in violins over decaying cellos. It all fades, and when the three leaders plummet to PNF-404, only a lone shimmering drone in F returns. The final gesture is an echoing synthesized Pikmin 2 motif, in a sustained chord context. Unlike the prologue in the previous game, this ending is much more ambiguous, the major turnaround only suggesting the title of the game and not the fate of the Koppaites.
Heard after Captain Charlie awakens in the Distant Tundra, and after he escapes from the Vehemoth Phosbat. This brief fanfare is heroic, but the clapping beat behind it decreases its power and seems to encapsulate it on a small scale. This seems like the theme that Charlie would have chosen to introduce himself, powerful but easily understood.
Heard when something Pikmin-related is discovered, such as a new Onion. This is a remaster of the "peculiar discovery" theme from the previous game, beginning with a small percussive gesture when a leader first notices something. The marimba from the previous game is now a tremolo guitar, and the flute is now a synthesizer; the theme appears to be a more modernized, streamlined version of the previous rendition, playing both the Pikmin and the futurism of the new Onion design.
Heard when in a tutorial on how to control Pikmin or throw leaders. This small theme is entirely synthesized, with lo-fi percussion and a wah-guitar-like sound providing bass and harmony. The melody is very repetitious, and the loop is only so long, accenting the brevity but sealing in the effectiveness of the tutorial.
Heard when Charlie is attacked by the Vehemoth Phosbat. In a horror-film-like turn, high aleatoric strings and horn cluster chords put Charlie in a suspenseful environment. When he realizes the horror behind him, the music swells to a high-contrast cluster, but without any accent for a jump-scare; instead an ocean harp glissando leaves Charlie's story unfinished.
Heard when Alph wakes up in the pool of water in the Tropical Wilds. A mainly whole-tone texture accents Alph's awakening, with col legno strings, a music box, and a clarinet playing the main gesture. A vibraphone and one other instrument travel the whole-tone scale, eventually closing into the early "Alph's Crash Site" theme. This other instrument is a cicada-like sound, which will also be present in the Tropical Wilds theme.
Heard when Alph finds a lone Red Pikmin and it runs away. The babyish sound of the celeste and synthesizer in this cue accent the smallness, perhaps the silly or cute look of the Pikmin to Alph. However, tremolo strings build the tension for when the Pikmin is scared and runs away, leaving Alph and a solo clarinet rather confused.
Heard when an important non-Pikmin item is discovered, such as the first piece of fruit or the KopPad. This is a new rendition of the success theme, with more prominent flutes with vibrato playing the "success" motif, and a clearer sound in the harmony and bass, thanks to an acoustic guitar sound. Percussion is also added in this rendition, another element adding to the satisfying conclusiveness of this tonal motif.
Heard when a leader is explaining an important discovery. This loop is a new rendition of the success theme's loop, although thinner, and with a softer percussion mix and melodic instrument. All of the synthesizers used here are once again very adept at conveying a "space explorer" mood.
Heard when a new type of Pikmin is plucked or found. Again, a mixture of synthesizers and small natural instruments introduce the Pikmin, this time with a decoration of the Pikmin 2 motif. One should notice how the melodic synthesizer detunes at the end of the cue, leading into the dialogue about new Pikmin.
Heard when a leader is talking about a new type of Pikmin. This simple playful loop has an easy melody and not very many instruments; it allows the player and the leader to adjust to a new type of Pikmin. It also plays the characteristics of the Pikmin, such as if a Pikmin is demonstrating its ability during the cutscene. Before it loops, it slows down.
Heard when Alph finds the S.S. Drake. Taking on a more triumphant and orchestral tone than the previous cutscenes, the S.S. Drake is introduced with a fanfare of the "Koppaite" motif, ending on a more ambiguous dominant F chord. Flutes provide small spurts of a harmony that will recur when this motif is used again, landing in a new area.
Heard when Alph first scans for life around the S.S. Drake. This small cue begins with almost a cartoonish mood, with a gracing flute and rhythmic staccato violins slowly descending as Alph's hopes for intelligent life are dashed. The cue ends in a small reprise of the main gesture in Alph's Crash Site, finishing with an uncertain dominant ♭9 E chord. This leads well into the surprise call from Brittany.
Heard during Brittany's first call to Alph. Brittany has a strange synthesized theme in A, built by a cutoff-oscillating saw synthesizer. A simple whole-tone melody on a second synthesizer establishes Brittany as remotely friendly, while the calm drum-machine percussion puts the urgency of her condition at ease. This theme is meant to quell any worry about Brittany's previously unknown fate.
Heard when Alph explains rocketing into orbit at sunset to escape nocturnal predators. When Alph first hears the strange alien calls (of a Whiptongue Bulborb), his panic incites a Bernard-Herrmann-esque gesture in high strings and discordant brass. Afterwards an atonal loop plays, with a main synthesized sound and metal percussion that set the mood almost of a horror B-movie. It is clear that the music is trying to convey the strange sounds as the noises of an extraterrestrial being; the atonality suggests that this being means the player harm.
Heard whenever an area is loading at the start of a day (or at a specific time of day), Mission Mode stage, or Bingo Battle. More of a sound than a theme, this progression ebbs from a C fifth drone to C major, using very simple synthesizers and a lot of evolving reverb to break down the complexity surrounding the menus and prepare the player for the new complexity of the gameplay area.
Heard whenever the S.S. Drake lands in an area for the first time, besides the Tropical Wilds and Distant Tundra. This exultant gesture is the "Koppaite" motif at its best, signaled by triangle and timpani and carried by a trumpet section and an array of synthesizers, including one similar to the main synth in the "new Pikmin type" theme. The full, rich harmony of the final note lasts right up until the leaders emerge from their landed ship.
Heard whenever something important needs explaining, such as the 100 Pikmin limit or a new signal showing up in the Garden of Hope. This is a remaster of the "explanation" theme from the previous game; the composition and instrumentation are the same, but now with the technical advancement behind Pikmin 3's music, the gesture is clearer and more realistic. It leads into a loop as the leaders explained what they have discovered.
Heard as a leader explains a gameplay-related discovery. This is a remaster of the "explanation" theme from the previous game; with the technical advancement behind Pikmin 3's music, the gesture is clearer and more realistic. The harmonic progression is different, however: in Pikmin 2 the loop progresses C major, G major, C major, G minor; whereas in Pikmin 3 the progression is only a loop of C major, G major.
Heard when Brittany is spotted lying on the ground in the Garden of Hope. As Brittany was not expected to be found in such a dubious state, the music takes an atonal turn, with a horror-film-style buildup (and tambourine rattle) to a six-hit release in synthesizer and strings, in a way resembling the style of the "Final Floor!" theme of the previous game. One can also hear the first instance of a flexatone in the Pikmin series.
Heard when Alph calls Brittany and she awakens. This reprise of Brittany's theme adds a piano-glockenspiel hit to the beginning (a friendly tone to calm concerns about Brittany's state) and a new piano-esque melodic synthesizer to the mix. This increases the complexity of Brittany's theme, perhaps representing how much closer the player is to rescuing her.
Heard when the Medusal Slurker is first encountered, holding Rock Pikmin. This is a calmer, smaller-scale version of the boss introduction cue in the same game, suggesting a much smaller mini-boss. A baritone saxophone and bass clarinet form the only bass power, so besides the contrast of high and low registers this cue is not designed to generate much worry about the might of the enemy. The four-note accent is the same sound used to introduce a Pikmin suffering.
Heard when the crystal wall blocking Brittany is destroyed. Brittany is introduced with a small gesture, like Charlie was. But her gesture is resoundingly major and high-spirited, in high-register flute triads and glockenspiel arpeggios. Afterwards, a loop plays over Brittany's dialog that is much more natural than most of the other cutscene soundtracks up to this point. A harp, pizzicato violin, and quiet violin section play a subtle melody in A♭ sus, culminating in a very wholesome sound. The theme is almost enhanced by the cicadas droning in the background.
Heard when the S.S. Drake recovers something important, such as the first piece of fruit or the Data Glutton. This theme highly resembles the "collected treasure" theme of the previous game, except instead of a "Hocotatian" motif in a natural-instrument ensemble, this new synthesized melody is the latter half of the "Koppaite" motif. The new bit tailors off into the classic loop from the previous game, however, with remastered synthetic drones but with the same old instrument to play the "end of day" motif and its accompaniment.
Heard when a day ends. This is a remaster of the "end of day" theme from the previous game; all of the original instrumentation is intact, but the reverb has more depth and the whole piece generally sounds crisper. Unlike the previous game, Pikmin 3 has no alternative "end of day" themes depending on how productive the day was, despite seemingly being intended to, originally.
Heard when a non-Red Pikmin suffers fire for the first time, and when a non-Blue Pikmin is drowning for the first time. This four-note gesture is the same that introduces the Medusal Slurker, albeit without the second cymbal crash. The theme may be distressing, but the small ensemble and high xylophone and synthesizer put the distress on the very small scale of the Pikmin.
Heard when a leader explains what to do when a Pikmin is on fire or drowning. This loop is rather coherent, with a distinct resolution of D to G from E♭, according to the bass clarinet. However, one synthesized texture underneath this resolution is detuned with itself, making it sound unpitched and disconcerting. Certainly, the contrast in registers here is enough to suggest something wrong, and something urgent.
Heard whenever a leader loses all their HP. This is a new rendition of the "leader is down" theme of the previous game, featuring the same composition but with a few differences. The synth bass in the previous game is replaced with a marimba sound, and the whole texture fades into a synthesized filter at the end. These changes, including making the whole theme less melodic and less prominent, can reflect that one leader being downed is less of an urgent problem with three leaders to begin with. However, Pikmin 3 does not supply different versions of this theme based on how many leaders are left.
Heard whenever a Pikmin extinction occurs, when a player loses all Pikmin. This is a new rendition of the "Pikmin extinction" theme of the previous game, except many instruments have been removed to diminish the scale of the mood down to the three lone leaders. Now, only a penny whistle, a classical guitar, and a marimba score the loss of all Pikmin, certainly making the cue more solitary yet still conveying the forlorn yet hopeful mood well. The marimba and the classical guitar sounds particularly show off the advancement of the programs used to make music in the series.
Heard when a day ends with no juice remaining. A decelerating clock tick and baritone saxophone chime in to bring the playthrough's events to a sluggish close. Based on the whole-tone tendencies, the comical jaw-harp-like harmony, and the detuning timpani hit near the end, this little gesture seems to be playing more to mocking the failure of the player than to the doleful fate of the Koppaites. It seems that its brevity was intended to sound anticlimactic, perhaps to give the player more hope and indirect encouragement to continue.
Heard when the message appears asking the player to continue after a game over. This loop is drastically different from the game over cue right before it. More of a collection of sounds, this loop uses space and register very adeptly, filling it with far-fetched and unrecognizable textures. Each sound on its own is triadic, or at least tonally coherent, but together they all mold together into a juxtaposition of modes, providing a background music bed. The looseness of this theme can be explained by its anomalous purpose: this theme has to score the game after the game is over.
Heard when the S.S. Drake prepares to land in the Distant Tundra, but loses Brittany. To note is that at the beginning of this rendition of the "land in new area" theme that the cymbal crash is missing. It instead accents the S.S. Drake hitting an obstacle and losing Brittany. This perfect synchrony also includes the final note being a half-step higher than usual, to give the theme a whole-tone, ambiguous feel. Afterwards, a saw-wave synthesizer and tuned gongs descend chromatically to aurally follow Brittany on her fall into the cave.
Heard after Captain Charlie escapes the Vehemoth Phosbat, and is talking with the other leaders. This small loop repeats Charlie's previous motif with a vocal-like synthesizer and over a simple straight-ahead beat. Again, the beat puts the theme in more understandable context, and gives both the theme and Captain Charlie more associated character.
Heard when Louie calls the leaders in the Twilight River. Louie's theme has many different sounds all providing confusing whole-tone passages. Together they create a very complex and comical loop, with many different streams that are difficult to follow. One element remains constant though: a Wurly-keyboard-esque sound consistently plays the 7th and 2nd scale degrees on the off-beat. This rigid gesture will be important when Louie's theme is reprised; it provides the basis for the general mood of urgency.
Heard when Louie is brought back to the S.S. Drake, both times. This cue harkens back to the "collected special treasure" theme from the previous game. The composition is the same, but the instruments are radically more synthesized and the rhythm is more pronounced by a drum machine. The "Koppaite" motif was used for all important items before this; since Louie is a Hocotatian; the "Hocotatian" motif is referenced. It should be noted that what seems like a small noise from Louie during the cue can also be heard. After the cue, the same "collected treasure" loop plays, a theme for the analysis of important objects.
Heard the morning Louie escapes in the Garden of Hope, when the leaders discover he is missing. This is essentially the last reprise of Louie's theme, with a few elements adding extra power to intensify the feeling of having no juice left. Instead of the Wurly synthesizer, violas and violins provide the texture bed for the other confusing gestures. Overall, they make the loop sound less elaborate, but more important, as the scale of the ensemble and the mood is augmented.
Heard when Captain Olimar is discovered at the top of the Formidable Oak. Now a full orchestra and electronics are prepared to score all scenes containing the Plasm Wraith. The surprise of finding Olimar is intensified by harsh whole-tone strings, a cymbal slide, and a quiet reversed sample of an ocean harp. The strings hold on a high E to sustain the suspense of finding out the Plasm Wraith's next move. This tension is not easily released, however, as evidenced by the following loop.
Heard when the leaders explain finding Olimar. Only a celeste and a voice-like synthesizer play here, creating a very eerie lullaby mood. Given the context of the Plasm Wraith looking over Olimar, this piece is remotely fitting but still extemely tense. The tension built from the previous cue is not released here, as the music takes an almost opposite judgement to the leaders about the situation. The calmness and thinness of this piece is not referenced again, as the Plasm Wraith is never this calm again.
Heard when Olimar is initially released from the plasm ball the Plasm Wraith forms. A sweep up the strings and a horn blare establish the terrifying contrast that characterizes the now hostile Plasm Wraith. The orchestral power subsides as Olimar is left alone, with only violins holding E and F together to augment the suspense of the moment. This held note quickly evolves into a new loop.
Heard when the leaders explain how to handle carrying Olimar. From the initial held note this new loop appears, controlled by cellos and a doumbek. The violins waver in their notes slightly, which certainly makes the mood off-putting, but what really drives the tension home is the alien synthesizers that play. A ping-like sound and a synth bass play bits of the Mysterious Life Form's theme, which at the moment sounds very strange but which will soon sound familiar. In fact, it could be said that the Mysterious Life Form's theme releases the tension accrued and sustained by this theme.
Heard when the Mysterious Life Form materializes inside the Formidable Oak. This is the most aleatoric music in the game, beginning with the reversed sample of an ocean harp (to establish something wrong) and growing into a huge, rich, looping cluster of tension. High strings randomly rise while a horn cluster settles them, eventually just leaving a loop of low strings and horns playing imperceptibly together. The whole loop sounds like one sound, but it is a very rich texture that actually alienates the Mysterious Life Form. The dissonance of this cue makes the Mysterious Life Form seem more monstrous, and less adherent to anything else in the game.
Heard when Olimar is saved; the cutscene occurs this way no matter how much fruit was recovered. It begins with the Koppaites meeting Olimar, who is immediately characterized by the true "Hocotatian" motif played resoundingly in trumpet (and later echoed in a horn section and a flute). The bold texture for Olimar contrasts with a softer, thinner texture for the awestruck Koppaites, in harp, thumb piano, and flute. This friendly texture stays for the remainder of the scene, as Olimar and the Koppaites exchange friendly dialog. One other element receives musical attention: the cosmic-drive key: its appearance is almost comically chimed by a bell and the same choir used as a sound effect in the KopPad. When the S.S. Drake lifts off, an immediate orchestral theme erupts with full strings and up-beat horn textures. An electronic drum kit kicks in with a cymbal crash and a synthesized texture plays the S.S. Drake accelerating into the atmosphere. Next comes an orchestral elaboration of the "Koppaite" motif, which only becomes richer and more victorious with time. When the leaders look back at the Pikmin from the air, the texture suddenly thins out to solo strings playing molto expressivo. The texture builds as more strings and a mark tree enter the mix, until it all metamorphoses into a predominant version of the Pikmin 2 motif, sung by Pikmin over strings. The orchestral texture barges back in to repeat this texture as an extended dominant, until the final resolving F major caps the whole scene's fade to black. As the S.S. Drake leaves PNF-404 in the next scene, the music slows to an ostinato of quiet violins and basses, while woodwinds and cellos voice a gesture dissimilar to any motif; it is clearly building up to something. This something is a resolution in G major, with mainly a trumpet and crotales voicing what resembles an inversion of the "Koppaite" motif, followed by a simple scalar gesture in strings and glockenspiel. This repeats three times before the next orchestral hit, when Charlie tells Alph to prepare cosmic drive. The orchestra builds in the dominant key as the sound of cosmic drive intensifies, even switching to strange substitute harmonies, perhaps in the style of Gustav Holst. Finally, cosmic drive begins, and the orchestra hits several times in a whole-tone key of G, augmenting the weirdness of this science-fiction concept. A final triplet of hits from the whole orchestra plays before the S.S. Drake disappears in a flash; the music simply stops at this point, leaving one with the view and the aural nature of the void of space.
The epilogues all feature the same music bed, with the narrator from the prologue narrating a different message based on how much fruit was recovered. The music is a loop not unlike a fanfare for a medal ceremony, with military percussion and rhythm underlaying a harmonic texture in strings and some woodwinds. Even a few spacey melodic sound effects join in to thicken the texture. Overall, this piece focuses on playing to the conclusion of the game, so it works over each message.
“Though not entirely satisfied, the explorers managed to secure a modest supply of edible matter for their home planet. Yet still they wondered, can this handful of seeds really bring salvation to the people of Koppai? Even if they carefully cultivate the seeds they've harvested, it may not be enough to support the entire population. This thought hovers over the explorers as they embark on their journey. Along with their cargo they carry with them a sense of unease.”
“And so the intrepid explorers succeed in securing a reasonable supply of edible matter for their home planet. If they carefully cultivate the seeds they've harvested, they just may bring salvation to the people of Koppai. However if they once again squander their resources, salvation may only be temporary. But fate will decide whether history repeats itself.”
“And so the intrepid explorers successfully complete their mission. After securing a bountiful supply of edible matter and learning the valuable lessons of planning and teamwork, the explorers are set to become the saviors of their home planet. Under their guidance, the seeds they've recovered will be used to kick off a sustainable cycle of cultivation and harvesting, thus bringing new life to Koppai. However, one question remains: what was the cause of the accident that sent the S.S. Drake hurtling to PNF-404's surface? Perhaps, it wasn't an accident after all.”
Heard after any of the epilogues, when the game is complete. This is by far the most varied of the credit sequences in the Pikmin series. Each scene in the credits' background has a different environment and different actions from the Pikmin, and the music adeptly scores each scene, while developing itself. The scenes are listed chronologically:
Like the previous games, Pikmin 3 has dynamic themes for its areas. Depending on certain parameters of in-game events, different mixes or versions of the theme play. These parameters are:
A new feature of Pikmin 3 is that these parameters are global; the active leader does not need to be nearby a gameplay event for it to trigger a musical adaptation. This actually makes music a helpful gameplay element, for example alerting the player as to when Pikmin not on screen are in danger with the enemy mix. Also, when the active leader is hiding, the music will fade out.
It should be noted that, unlike in the articles for the previous games' soundtracks, there is no instrument listed in bold. This is because the area themes in this game are very atmospheric; either many instruments take different parts of the melody or the melody is not clearly defined.
Alph's Crash Site
As Alph first discovers Red Pikmin, this music plays over the basic tutorial of Pikmin gameplay. The melody is simple and scalar and the toy piano sound adds to its toy-like mood, suggesting humble beginnings, even infancy. The elements in the level are expertly arranged so that the music develops in a satisfying way, which may somewhat aid the understanding of gameplay. A few parts of the melody and its context echo bits of The Impact Site's theme.
As this theme only occurs during day 1 where weather is always sunny and there is no time limit, there is no weather, afternoon, or sunset version of this theme.
When Alph first wakes up after watching the S.S. Drake crash, there is a brief musical cue followed by part of this theme (without melodica) played until Alph can be controlled. After this, the theme does not return until the Red Onion is freed.
Garden of Hope
The Garden of Hope's theme is a beautiful representation of the season of spring. The textures are soft (the harp gestures especially delicate) and the melodic instruments and dynamics smoothly transition between each other. Interestingly, the Garden of Hope is the only area to have a different theme for the afternoon. The structure is the same, but different instruments surface and the chord progression changes in several areas. The afternoon theme also has an anacrusis, rather than a small separate intro.
On day 2, the music will not begin until Pikmin are called out of the Onion.
The Distant Tundra's theme takes a lot of inspiration from the Valley of Repose's theme, mainly in gestural rhythms. However, this piece is a lot looser, with bouncy gestures, strange harmonic progression, and changing meter (although it always keeps its pulse) that all still carry the beauty of the frozen landscape. One secondary melodic instrument, the organ-like synthesizer, sounds remarkably similar to the one used in the Perplexing Pool's theme.
It does not rain in the Distant Tundra; its weather equivalent is snow, prompting a new version of the theme on any day that it is snowing; this theme is actually a passage longer than the main version.
The Tropical Wilds's theme follows a strategy employed by a few cave themes in the previous game: being overcomplicated so that the player's mind is directed away from the music. Using a large varied ensemble with complicated patterns of call-and-response, the theme actually directs attention to gameplay, rather than to the scenery and detail. The mind can only stream so much information at once, so it prioritizes this complex area's terrain and the elements within it. Thus, the music here could indicate a turning point for the difficulty of the game.
Twilight River's theme has the most defined swing rhythm of all the area themes in the game, bringing this theme closest to a jazz genre. Its meter is very free, but its chord progression is very distinct and follows a nice pattern of 5-1 resolution, albeit with a great number of odd turns that make the whole texture more interesting. This piece also demonstrates some very well-rendered instrument sounds, particularly the acoustic guitar and strings. The whole piece blends very well together; its leisurely mood complements the peaceful atmosphere, while its hidden complexity complements the gameplay intensity at this point in the game.
The Formidable Oak's theme, which is more an ambience than a theme, is all designed to build a high level of tension for the events in the interior, using unrecognizable sounds and minimalism. Since there are no enemies, obstacles, or fruits in the exterior area, there are no enemy, task, or carrying mixes; it also has no afternoon version. However, rain causes a rather dramatic change to the ambience, making it a definable theme with rhythm. The bass drops an octave lower, and a deceptively cheerful theme plays over the unnerving texture, in a style very similar to The Final Trial's theme.
There is also a specific theme for the sunset during rain. It is the same melody from the normal weather version, but shared between the detuned glockenspiel and celeste/wind chime sample, making it the thinnest theme in the game.
Every cave in the game, besides those in the Formidable Oak, use this theme. Time still passes in caves, but the theme does not recognize the afternoon or sunset, and no changes occur due to weather outside. The theme itself is minimalist but still rather complex, directing attention to navigating the cave rather than admiring its ambience. One of the instruments used here is the cymbalesque synthesizer from the first game, a sound unique to the Pikmin series.
This theme occurs whenever it is raining in an area other than the Formidable Oak, and it expertly captures the mood set by the rain. The steadiness of the piano texture puts the theme more in the background to gameplay events, but rain acts the same way, so the theme works very well. Since rain lasts all day, this special theme has its own mixes for gameplay events.
Boss themes have to build a lot more tension than normal gameplay themes, so they normally incorporate more orchestral textures with specific sounds that produce great intensity. A feature of most of the boss themes in this game, as in the previous game, is that the boss' actions determine changes or cues in the music. Except for the final boss' case, a boss theme will only play in the boss' vicinity, since the theme's dynamism is generally controlled by the boss and not the player.
For the Armored Mawdad, Sandbelching Meerslug, Scornet Maestro, and Quaggled Mireclops, the transition from area theme to boss theme occurs in this way: between the main game area and the boss arena is a passageway in which the area music fades into the sound of heavy wind the closer the player is to the arena. In the arena, the boss theme can begin out of silence.
Heard during a boss introduction cutscene; this particular intro is for the Scornet Maestro. There are two parts to the boss battle intro: A subtle tension-building ambience built on atonal strings and contrabassoon when the boss is beginning its appearance, and a hyper-tense stinger in full orchestra when the boss reveals its aggressiveness. As the Scornet Maestro's intro sequence is particularly long, the subtle parts plays twice; also, the intensity of its harp-beak sound effect changes with the intro's intensity.
The common boss theme. A powerful orchestra sound with blaring brass in low registers and resounding strings and brass in high delivers a high-contrast, high-dissonance thrill of a theme. Compared to the previous game's boss theme, this theme has freer percussion, now hammering out an irregular 7/8 time signature. The loop itself is not very long, because this theme normally does not last long before seamlessly transitioning into a different cue, prompted by the bosses' actions; once the cue is finished, this theme resets. Those actions and the cues they trigger are listed in the table below.
Heard during a boss' characteristic attack. The extremely low registers of the normal boss theme drop out here, implying an added stress to this cue. The augmented chords in brass, woodwinds, and xylophone here also imply a sense of mystery to what the boss is planning, since the boss battles are rather dynamic.
Heard if Pikmin were captured during a boss attack, or during an especially dangerous attack. The extremely low registers return here, along with a heavy bass drum hit and dramatic rips in the horns. The high woodwinds and strings play a piercing punctual texture, almost as if expressively crying for help.
Heard during a chance to attack the boss while it cannot retaliate. With the full orchestra playing full-throttle in 4/4 meter, the music suddenly becomes emphatically major, with hints of the Pikmin 2 motif played in a new xylophone-like synthesizer, along with woodwinds and the xylophone. This theme can only happen if no Pikmin are in immediate danger at the time.
There are also several small cues based on the transition between these three sub-themes and the main boss theme. There is one for Pikmin dying during a boss attack, two for the end of a boss attack (one in which Pikmin died and one in which Pikmin were safe), one for a boss shaking off Pikmin, and a specific one for the Quaggled Mireclops smashing its body into the ground (it is an attack, but it is too short for the attack theme).
For the end of a boss battle, see the Vehemoth Phosbat section below.
The Vehemoth Phosbat has a unique boss theme, since its arena is not merely designed for engaging it in combat. Its battle is more of a puzzle to begin with, and moreover, it occurs in darkness, adding an element of mystery and suspense. The theme is still somewhat dynamic, but certainly less so than other main bosses.
The passageway to the Vehemoth Phosbat's cave still fades out the area music, but it stays silent until the player reveals the boss using the electrode. Then the boss battle intro plays, but the normal boss music does not follow.
Heard at the beginning of the battle, when no electrodes are activated. Played rather like a horror film or fantasy soundtrack, this eerie detuned theme makes the invisible boss all the more ominous. Although a beat is added, the Vehemoth Phosbat drawing near adds a spooky texture that alludes to the noises heard when Charlie was first captured. This added texture can be heard here.
Heard after any of the smaller electrodes are activated. Orchestral textures are added, but not in the normal boss manner. Many of the sounds present here are still detuned, or have somewhat alien qualities, to make the Vehemoth Phosbat appear more otherworldly and to increase the horror-like tension. Once again, when the Vehemoth Phosbat nears, it superimposes its odd texture over this, increasing the overall discordance of the theme. This added texture can be heard here.
Heard when the largest electrode is activated, making the Vehemoth Phosbat vulnerable. This cue sounds a bit more like a normal boss cue, with booming brass and percussion, but the unusual horror-element instruments are still present, further separating this boss from others.
Heard during the battle after the largest electrode is activated. This piece sounds like the Vehemoth Phosbat's theme and the normal boss battle theme spliced together; it contains melodic gestures and rhythmic structures from both. The boss' unique texture and detuned orchestra is present, but so is the rigid military percussion and string and brass patterns. Since the battle is now about combat in the light rather than strategy in the dark, this theme is effective at bringing the Vehemoth Phosbat back from the shadowy archetype of a dark, unseen threat to a real, tangible boss that can be defeated.
Heard when any boss is defeated; this extended version is for the Vehemoth Phosbat. Unlike the previous game that took a major Picardy third upon beating a boss, this game's boss theme chugs to a rather dissonant halt. In this extended version for the Vehemoth Phosbat, violins continue after the main cue is finished, slowly and continually ascending as the boss tries to fly away. This small gesture builds the final tension for the Vehemoth Phosbat's collision with the large light bulb, which truly ends the battle.
Mysterious Life Form/Plasm Wraith
The final boss of the game has two forms, with two very different themes. These two boss themes do not function like the normal boss themes; there is little (although still significant) dynamism that the boss can trigger. Also, since the Formidable Oak is entirely designed for this boss battle, the boss theme is global, and the second phase of it completely replaces the Formidable Oak's theme.
Heard in the Formidable Oak's interior, while the Mysterious Life Form is giving chase. While this composition is all about building tension, it also needs to build a mood of futility, as the Mysterious Life Form is invincible and garners a great deal of control over the environment. Thus this piece has a very atonal gesture, the Plasm Wraith's motif, that repeats in two synthesizers. Over this, a theremin solos, creating an avant-garde but still highly tense environment. The futility comes from the fact that this intensity level is kept no matter how far the player manages to get from the Mysterious Life Form, in a way saying that it will always catch up. An added sense of urgency also comes from the constant pounding of bass and tenor drums, along with the off-rhythm triangle-like percussion.
Heard when the Mysterious Life Form is close to Olimar. This theme is extremely tense, perhaps the most tense in the game. In addition to the alien texture heard before, the percussion has been beefed with metal sheets, a polyrhythmic metal bar (perhaps the tensest element of them all), and dissonant staccato notes in basses. A new aleatoric texture has settled over the theme, as if the mood were not dissonant enough. The clutter is enough to give the Mysterious Life Form a real element of fright, and certainly enough to spell out the danger it poses to the Koppaites and Olimar.
Heard when the Mysterious Life Form is escaping with Olimar inside of it. Now the tension and dissonance of the theme has backed down a little, but the Plasm Wraith's motif is still there and now a full orchestra is playing the urgency of rescuing Olimar. Fast brass stabs and string gestures articulate the commotion of quickly battling the Mysterious Life Form, while percussion still pounds on to the same rhythm as before. In addition, a strange choir-like sound can be heard in the background, similar to the ambient noise heard in the Formidable Oak's theme. If Olimar is freed, the theme will return to its normal state (far from Olimar) until the Mysterious Life Form rematerializes, after which it can get close to Olimar once again.
Heard when the leaders and Olimar make it out of the Formidable Oak's interior. This is the transition between phases of the boss battle, and although the first phase was tense, this transition cutscene needs to show that it is over. It does this with small iterations of the "Hocotatian motif", a motif that is major standing alone but in this context is made an atonal gesture. It does offer a small mood of victory over the Mysterious Life Form, but then the boss appears with its motivic instruments and figures until it transforms into the Plasm Wraith, its appearance accented by a blast of low horns and trombones. After this, the Plasm Wraith absorbs all its excess plasm to become larger, and an ostinato in strings builds new tension for the impending phase of the battle, during which leaders and Pikmin are on the offensive side. Since the player is given power to combat the boss, the texture is of natural instruments and not alien synthesizers associated with the Mysterious Life Form.
Heard during the battle with the Plasm Wraith, anywhere in the Formidable Oak. This climactic theme features a very eclectic collection of instruments and textures. It seems to contain sections: the first is an orchestral section of string ostinatos while an organ synthesizer and Hang drum play small repetitive gestures; the whole sound is very dramatic and carries a close intensity to the normal boss battle theme. Soon the Plasm Wraith's motif arises, and attaches to nearly all of the orchestra until every instrument plays it in unison. After 5 iterations (the fifth including percussive accents), the orchestra holds on an altered dominant chord, with a harp glissando and dissonant string flourish. The theme then switches to a new section of less intensity, featuring smaller-scale instruments and a thinner overall texture. Bassoons and cellos have a legato melody, followed flute and saxophone, until strings finish it off and the texture builds back up to full-orchestra steam. This tension allows it to come full-circle to the rich accents at the beginning of the theme.
This is the extent of the theme; neither the Plasm Wraith's actions nor the player's actions instigate any dynamic change to the theme. While it does not score a dynamic battle as effectively as the other, more dynamic themes, its rigidity could be considered more climactic and certainly ultimate to the game, similar to the final boss theme in Pikmin.
Heard when the Plasm Wraith gives up its inner cube, which reveals Olimar and ends the game. This cutscene begins with one last iteration of the Plasm Wraith's motif in synthesizer and then in horns. It stops on an F midway through the horn iteration however, indicating the immediate end of the boss's threat. This F is sustained in high tremolo violins, and suddenly switched into a B♭ major dominant context as the cube begins to open. The orchestra chimes in with more major harmony and trilling woodwinds and arpeggiating synthesizers, until Olimar is fully revealed with a grand orchestral four-note gesture in the C Lydian mode. The music then cuts, leaving the echo of synthesizers, before the conclusion begins.
Mid-bosses in Pikmin 3 are smaller bosses in the game that are larger and stronger than most enemies but that do not contain an important plot element. These are the Shaggy Long Legs, Burrowing Snagret, and Bug-Eyed Crawmad (the Baldy Long Legs does not trigger mid-boss music because it does not appear in story mode). They get their own theme that plays whenever the active leader is near, similarly to how boss themes worked in the previous games. The theme itself is a new rendition of the previous game's boss battle theme. The new theme is less brass-centered, with the melody in strings and a few muted horns instead. The percussion and synth bass are also more articulate.
The mid-boss themes also include new renditions of the same cues used in Pikmin 2 for boss attacks and defenses, as well as a new rendition of the ending Picardy third. However, the attack preparation and long attack tracks are absent from this game.
Mission Mode in Pikmin 3 is considered non-canonical, and as such the music does not necessarily reflect the normal compositional style in the main game. The themes used here are not to address the scenery of a particular environment, they are meant to encourage gameplay and strategic thinking. At times they can be simpler so as not to clutter up the Mission Mode experience, or at other times they can be very complex in order to direct the player to the game rather than the music. Either way, the music still changes dynamically based on Pikmin battling enemies, carrying items, or overcoming obstacles. So even if the music does not direct a lot of attention, it can still help categorize what is going on in a Mission Mode stage. The themes of Mission Mode play continuously throughout a stage, and transpose up one half-step and accelerate at one minute remaining.
The theme for Mission Mode stages 1-10, in both "Collect treasure!" and "Battle enemies!". The bed under which the melody plays is familiarly inspired from the Awakening Wood; the melody itself is a variation and elaboration of the Pikmin 2 motif on penny whistle. The general texture adheres mainly to aerophones: brass and woodwinds, and seems rather thin. But it does not stay this way long before an enemy, task, or treasure mix fades in; in fact, this naked theme, after a few associations, can warn the player that their time is not being used efficiently. At one minute left, this theme's tempo accelerates to exactly 120 bpm, meaning it is synced with the clock (when the clock counts down from 0:10 it will be in time with the music). This synchrony is easily broken using the KopPad's Go here! function, since the music still plays while gameplay is paused.
The Fortress of Festivity has a unique theme. It appears to be the same theme as that of Mission Mode levels 12-15, but with new instrumentation to reflect the holiday theme. Several different bells, handbells, and glockenspiels replace the normal penny whistles and synthesizers that make up the usual theme.
Heard in Mission Mode stages 12-15, in both "Collect treasure!" and "Battle enemies!". This quaint theme again has penny whistle playing the majority of the melody, which is another variation and elaboration of the Pikmin 2 motif. One important element to note about this theme and its counterpart is the sense of scale that the mood creates. Without consistent bass and with small noises scattered about a very thin texture, the whole mood feels on the small scale of Pikmin and leaders as they traverse the rather recognizable environments of stages 11-15. The small scale and quietude of the piece seem almost ironic, backdropped against the very complex stages. But this theme's simplicity also allows it to stand by, secondary to focal gameplay.
Heard when a Mission Mode stage is completed, with a platinum medal. A grand flourish of brass, woodwinds, and percussion brings about this victorious rendition of the Pikmin 2 motif. It works especially well with under one minute left in stages 1-10, or with over one minute left in stages 12-15, since those are both in the same key of F#.
Bingo Battle in Pikmin 3 has quite a different compositional style from the rest of the game, appropriately for this non-canonical mode. The themes used here certainly suggest battle but in a very friendly sense; the modes and keys are all major and the music all reflects the small scale of the Pikmin, the leaders, and the fight itself. The main Bingo Battle themes and the One Away! theme are dynamic by one parameter. If Pikmin are carrying their opponent's Victory Macaroon, they will start chanting the name of the planet to which their team leader belongs. "Koppai!" on beats 1 and 2 (or 1, 2, and 3) for Alph; "Hocotate!" on beats 3 and 4 (or 3, 4, and 5) for Olimar. This also occurs if Pikmin are carrying the item their team needs to score a Bingo, which is only heard during the One Away! theme.
Heard as a battle is beginning, when the bingo cards appear. The small cue is entirely synthesized and very simple; the tension it builds for the bingo cards is there but not extreme by any regard. The appearance of the cards is accented by a synthetic horn section fall.
Heard in the Shaded Terrace, Stagnant Sea, Twisted Cavern, Arid Metropolis, Blooming Terrace, Parched Brook, Buried Pond, and Sandbox Kingdom. This quirky theme has a catchy melody in pizzicato violin, rare in the game but appropriate for establishing a sort of "Bingo Battle" motif. The texture resembles a matured Alph's Crash Site theme, but certainly borrows inspiration from The Impact Site's theme. The theme is very clean and not very complex, and it does not build tension for a battle, but rather stands aside for the battle and plays the scenery of the small-scale environment.
Heard in the Rusted Labyrinth and Corroded Maze. This theme has a highly mechanical mood, based on its almost entirely metal percussion and servo-like melodic synthesizer. And yet, the underlying beat is not mechanical, but electronic; its small sounds aid the whole texture sounding small, as with the Mission Mode theme for stages 12-15. The synth bass gives the piece a little more solidity and contrast than the other Bingo Battle themes, and the many different metal percussion sounds keep the piece interesting (there is one unique hit that only plays the beat before the theme loops).
Heard in the Jigsaw Fortress and Jigsaw Colosseum. This piece unmistakably takes inspiration from the "railroad" sublevel theme in Pikmin 2. Above the thin electronic beat are synthetic and sampled sound effects that sound like they are played on toys: a party horn and cash register bell can both be heard. The majority of high-register squeaks and bells makes the whole theme seem very small and contained, and the rigid gameplay reflects the perfectly square rigidity of the environment.
Heard whenever a player is one item away from a bingo. This is a more intense version of the "nature" Bingo Battle theme, that plays regardless if the stage is nature-themed or not. The theme is certainly meant to sound ridiculous, with bass melodica in bass and rotary organs providing harmony and melody over a polka-esque beat. This will continue to play even if the item needed to win is no longer available; it will only stop if the triggering player's bingo card is shuffled such that the one-away condition stops.
Heard when the battle has gone on for eight minutes; Cupid's Grenades stop spawning and Lucky Marbles start spawning. The intro cue to this theme seems to have a style that would fit in Mario Kart Wii, given that it is completely synthesized and based on chord/bass substitution. After the intro, the music thins out to a simple, electronic percussion beat with shaker, in order to stop playing the environment and begin playing the anticipation for the battle's end.
Heard when one player gets a bingo and the battle ends. Again, this cue and the loop afterwards are entirely synthesized and entirely major, and qualities and high registers of the synthesizers give off a small sense of scale. During the loop, a sine-wave-like synthesizer plays the main melodic motif from the nature-themed stages, now in a 4/4 meter.
These small jingles indicate specific in-game events, but do not interrupt gameplay. Their musical cues give them more character.
Heard when an obstacle, such as a gate or bridge, is overcome. This jingle is very similar to the previous game's obstacle jingle in that its structure resembles the charge fanfare. In this game however, it has a noticeable echo, helping with the feeling of the sound being global.
The Sun Meter makes various noises at quarterly increments throughout any day. At a quarter and three fourths through the day, the Sun Meter will briefly jump with a handbell ringing sound and a church bell chime, to accent the significant amount of time that has passed. At noon, the handbell and a two-note (A and F) chime on church bells play. Close to sunset, the HUD will display the message to gather stray Pikmin, accented by the whistle sound and church bells playing a chime similar to the Westminster Quarters half-hour chime, which in Japanese schools represents the beginning or end of a period. Inside of a cave, all of these chimes slightly modulate in pitch.
Heard when a Pellet Posy grows into a flower and pellet. A glockenspiel plays a unique inversion of a C sus 4 chord, no matter the size or color the pellet becomes. This little jingle gives the Pellet Posy more character than being a simple gameplay tool. This jingle can be most easily heard in the Distant Tundra, especially at the moment Brittany first emerges from the cave containing Yellow Pikmin.