Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s ongoing hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. We’ve got an odd one today: the soundtrack to a make-believe Nintendo 64 game hidden away in the Switch version of Firewatch.
Yep, if you’ve got the (I’m told, lovely) adventure game Firewatch on the Switch, there’s a little old-school platformer called Forrest 64 all hidden up in there. It came to greater prominence this past week when Cabel Sasser, co-founder of the company that published the Switch version, spilled the beans on this incredible Easter egg that many folks overlooked.
Find the secret in-game N64 cart, take it to a certain place, and suddenly you’re playing a late-’90s platformer. As the linked “longplay” shows, Forrest 64 (playlist / longplay / iTunes / Spotify) consists of three short segments: collecting tokens, collecting slightly more dangerous tokens, and winning a race against a UFO. Pretty impressive for a hidden bonus created “just for fun.” And it sounds like this:
Campo Santo / Panic (YouTube)
Sasser, the Panic co-founder, composed these little ditties especially for Forrest 64, starting from bits of Firewatch creator/composer Chris Remo’s original soundtrack before launching into full-on cartoon madness. As put by Sasser on Twitter, “what if I ruined @chrisremo’s Firewatch music but in a hopefully-funny way? Two opening chords here, a little Ol’ Shoshone there…the rest is Nintendo 64-style history.”
The main track here, “Forrest 64,” sounds exactly like you expect: generically pleasant almost to a fault, utterly familiar even though you’ve never heard it before. It’s the sort of unspectacular but also unpretentious game music you might look back on fondly, were it attached to the first stage of a game you binged as a kid. Truly the most N64 platformer music to never appear in an N64 platformer. As for “Forrest 64 Race,” if you’ve played Super Mario 64, you’ll find that Sasser’s parody-slash-tribute aims true.
Beyond a pair of incidental win/lose tracks, this tiny OST for a non-existent N64 game is rounded out by two typically rollicking remixes by Jason “Xoc” Cox. They’re fun and almost amusingly reverent considering the goofy parodies they’re remixing, and leaving behind the intentionally generic MIDI sound of the original tracks actually gives the melodies a little room to shine on their own merits.
Campo Santo / Panic / Xoc (YouTube)
Nothing earth-shattering, but it’s fun.
Bonus round? Bonus round. Along not-dissimilar lines, Xoc released an entire album of Banjo-Kazooie remixes, titled Xoc ‘N’ Swop!:
Xoc’s back catalog of retro remixes is impressively expansive and touches on some lesser-known classic games as well as unusual genre mash-ups.
If you’ve ever wondered what Metroid’s Kraid lair theme would sound like as a country song, Zelda II in the style of the Beach Boys, or uh, Chubby Cherub as sung by The Ramones, they’ve got you covered. And I gotta say this surf-rocky take on Sonic’s Marble Zone is to die for. I like the cut of this person’s jib, and it’s cool that I discovered their work through—tell me if you’ve heard this before—their contributions to a make-believe Nintendo 64 game hidden in a critically acclaimed narrative adventure whose PlayStation 4 UI theme my colleague Ian really loves.
I know, story old as time. Anyway, that is literally everything in my brain about Firewatch, so I hope it’s enough. Shoo, shoo.
That’s it for today’s Morning Music! A question comes to mind: How would you describe the Nintendo 64’s sound? Is it distinctive? It famously lacks a dedicated sound chip! Does that mean there’s less of an obvious hardware basis to give it an identifiable sound signature? (Ah, this is a whole ‘nother article itself.) Something to ponder! So, how’s your week looking?