Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today we look back at a game that is the exact opposite of 2020: the nice, soft, fun, and colorful world of Viva Piñata and its fantastic soundtrack.
Before Rare was making a game about pirates, but after it had created a game about shooting aliens, the developer released 2006’s Viva Piñata (gameplay / VGMdb) on the Xbox 360, a great gift of a game featuring adorable piñata animals and some surprisingly tricky achievements. But today I want to talk about the game’s lovely music. All of it was created by legendary composer Grant Kirkhope. You might not know his name, but you probably know some of the games he’s worked on. Stuff like Perfect Dark, Donkey Kong 64, Banjo Kazooie, and more recently, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
For Viva Piñata, Kirkhope tapped into his ability to create songs that instantly become hummable, even as you’re listening to them for the first time. Nearly the whole soundtrack is filled with songs like that.
A lot of these songs became burned into my brain after I spent a few weeks solid playing this game when it first came out. At the time, I remember folks I knew being confused why I was playing this game. Back then I still had a lot of shitty teen friends who thought anything with cute, colorful animals was a dumb waste of time. Oh, but they were missing out. I remember cleaning up my piñata garden and tending to animals each night while peaceful, quiet songs played in the background.
The night songs are some of my favorites. They instantly evoke that feeling of comfort and peace. Whenever night came in the game and these songs would start, I would instantly start slowing down a bit. I’d focus more on little details and making sure all my creatures were happy and ready to sleep.
The day songs are great too. Each of them could easily be ripped out of here and stuck into almost any big-budget animated flick and, aside from Viva Piñata fans, most folks wouldn’t notice. But here’s the weird thing: The best song in the game is hidden in the pause menu. Listen to this!
Folks, you know you have a good soundtrack when even the pause menu has a banger playing in the background. I hope we one day get a big sequel to Viva Piñata and its sequel, Trouble in Paradise. The world needs it. Hell, I need it. Please Microsoft and Rare, help us out.
That’s it for today’s Morning Music! 2020 sucks shit, but we can still listen to great music like this. They can’t take that away from us… for now. Anyway, let’s have a chat down below about this lovely soundtrack or anything else. See you tomorrow!