A Biweekly Music Wednesday! first: two songs! While they're essentially the same, please be sure to take a listen!
Origin: Pikmin 3
Composer: Asuka Hayazaki, Atsuko Asahi, Hajime Wakai
Plays In: The Garden of Hope
Status: Original Composition
My first play session with Pikmin 3 back last August is by far my favorite 2013 moment. The hypnotic disbelief of playing a sequel I'd waited nine years for took held my mind captive in a blissful state, and hours flew by as I once again visited the beautiful world of the Pikmin. I was still dazed with euphoria for the rest of the day, not registering anything around me as my brain continually repeated, "I just played Pikmin 3. I just played Pikmin 3. I just played Pikmin 3, and it was glorious."
The theme for the Garden of Hope location played a major role in my ecstasy. Continuing the series' tradition of dividing area themes into morning, daytime, and sundown portions, Garden of Hope is quite reminiscent of the original Pikmin's Forest of Hope in they both share the serene, soothing nature like that of a lullaby. Garden of Hope takes it a step further though and instills a soft, gradual sense of realization into the player: that they've returned to the mysterious alien world that captivated them a decade ago, and oh, is it sweet.
The morning bit happens to be my personal favorite portion of the song. It's a pure, distilled representation of the isolated early morning, and I can practically feel the morning dew emerging on the flowers of a beautiful garden. In the context of Pikmin, it perfectly complements the series' beautiful tone of the fragile balance between and death, and I always sigh in reverie when this is reflected around 35 seconds in. As I attend a Christian university, it's actually what I imagine playing whenever the concept of Heaven crosses my mind, and it helped a lot in dealing with the third anniversary of my brother's death (which fell three days after the game's release).
The daytime version with the banjo is pretty damn great as well, building off the previous part with a more active feel. The laid-back plucks of the banjo steal the show, and yet the piece never loses its serenity. It's part of why Pikmin remains Nintendo's most eerily beautiful franchise: even as your Pikmin soldiers become devoured by the dozens, you fell giant beasts with explosions, and ample evidence of a post-apocalyptic Earth lie everywhere, it's all accompanied by beautiful, careful strokes of instruments like the banjo and piano.
And yet the player moves on, despite their mistakes. Life continues on in both the game and the real world, as the player laments the loss of their Pikmin and the in-game characters march on without time to mourn. The banjo continues plucking on, not discriminating against who dies and who survives. Rare is the video game track that embodies both the tone and the themes of a game, and Garden of Hope passes with flying colors.
So long as I continue to enjoy life despite the tragedies surrounding me everyday, I can move on knowing he's watching me.
Final Thoughts: Man, I'm so excited to begin my third playthrough.
11:56 PM.....barely made it. But at least I did it, even if I didn't get as deep as I would've liked.