Earlier this week, we posted our interview with Dan Hess, the talented genius behind the Pilotwings 64 soundtrack. You should give it a read, if you haven’t already, as Dan’s experiences give a fascinating insight into what early Nintendo 64 game development was like and how the soundtrack came to be.
Despite our in-depth interview, we still felt the need to take our exploration of Pilotwings 64′s musical offerings one step further. That’s why we’ve been listening to the game’s soundtrack all week and reliving those classic memories of crashing into a wall, missing a bonus ring and getting shot down by Meca Hawk.
Below, we’ve listed our favourite tracks from the game and have given a bit of background into why we think they’re great. Of course, you can have a listen for yourself and you may disagree, but then that’s what the comments section at the bottom of the page is for! Before we get started, it’s worth noting that these aren’t rank in any particular order.
Dan mentioned in his interview that Makoto Wada, Pilotwings 64′s game director, was looking for “floaty-fluffy” sounding tracks, and it’s fair to say that the Hang Glider theme does a good job of evoking that feeling. This game mode is typically much slower paced than the rest, mainly because it incorporates some exploration elements and also because hang gliders aren’t as fast as gyrocopters.
This track helps to make you feel completely at ease while soaring through the sky; well, that is until you unwittingly crash into the side of a mountain or something.
Never has a character select screen been as difficult to get past as the one that features in Pilotwings 64. It’s perfectly user-friendly and admittedly it isn’t too difficult to choose a pilot you like either; it’s just the music which plays is so damn catchy! It’s funky and entirely in keeping with the game’s quirky presentation.
Pilotwings 64 may feature extremely intricate gameplay that requires the utmost precision, but the important thing is that it’s also a heck of a lot of fun, which this track most certainly emphasises.
We can’t help but think that when Dan was creating this track, he somehow magically turned into Stevie Wonder. Full of soul and really upbeat, it goes hand-in-hand with the constant up-and-down nature of the Rocket Belt sections of the game.
Dan has also uploaded an original demo of this track to his YouTube channel and we wholeheartedly recommend you check it out.
Jumble Hopper is quite different from the other tracks that feature in Pilotwings 64. It’s a chirpy tune and one that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Mario game (or even Banjo Kazooie for that matter), which makes sense given that the Jumble Hopper tasks are all about jumping across the the game’s vast, virtual landscapes.
It’s difficult to describe just how wonderful this track truly is. The Birdman activity is all about chilling out, having a relaxing glide around one of the islands and doing very little else. There are no game objectives or challenges to complete; simply enjoy what’s on offer and maybe take a few photos while you’re at it.
What better way to complement this than to throw a soul groove over the top of it? It’s as dreamy as a Barry White love song, which makes it all too easy to lose yourself in this game mode for hours. This is easily one of the best pieces of music to appear in any Nintendo 64 game and it certainly was a technical achievement given that the entire game weighed in at a mere 8 megabytes.
What’s your favourite piece of music from Pilotwings 64? Which other N64 game soundtracks do you love listening to? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.