Pikmin usually has a cutesy vibe to it; I mean, just look at the little bastards! They’re all goddamn adorable! However, people who’ve played Pikmin know that the game has a much darker side to it than people think. Above ground, you’re met with very relaxing music that reflects the beauty of the area around you, but everything changes once you delve into the depths of sinister caves and haunted burrows. When you go underground, you’re cut off from any surface supplies and resources, left with whatever you brought with you as your only means of collecting the treasure. One of the more famous caves in Pikmin 2 was the Submerged Castle and trust me, it got a reputation for a reason.
Track Name: Submerged Castle
Game: Pikmin 2 (2004)
System: Nintendo Gamecube
Composer: Hajime Wakai
The entrance was located at the bottom of an undrainable lake, adding underwater phobias to the list of shit you had to repress. If that wasn’t enough, you could only enter with Blue Pikmin, who are the only Pikmin who could breathe underwater. That means that every other kind of hazard, like electricity, fire, and poison, would constantly keep you on edge, looking for the next trap. Littered around the cave are spider-like creatures that present a constant threat to your squad with numerous elemental hazards. Hearing your Pikmin being snatched up and turning around to find nothing in sight can make even the most seasoned explorer draw a bead of sweat. But the absolute worst part? Worse than stumbling in a dark, nightmarish cave with this sinister music looping constantly?
You’re being followed. The. Entire. Time.
The game gives you no mention or warning of the impending Waterwraith, and the concept of being stalked is never used in any other cave systems. At random times, the invulnerable Waterwraith will crash down from the ceiling and proceed to chase you and your Pikmin all while humming an eerie tune with overwhelming joy. Your goal is to loot the treasure hidden in the cave while making your way to the final floor, where they key to freeing yourself from the Waterwraith’s ghostly grip awaits you.
It reminds me a lot of the first time playing Metroid Fusion. Making my way through the space station, all while keeping an eye out for the sinister SA-X is a great example of tension created by being stalked by an overwhelming enemy, and this theme is just a grim reminder that despite Pikmin 2’s life-like environments, you are not alone in the Submerged Castle.
You’re never alone in the Submerged Castle.