Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame: Ari Pulkkinen

The man who put the music into Angry Birds

Hall of Fame: Ari Pulkkinen

Ari Pulkkinen is an award-winning composer and a sound designer with a long career in games industry. 

His work includes many critically acclaimed games like Angry Birds, Resogun, the Trine series, Dead Nation, Outland and Super Stardust HD.

Pocket Gamer: What were your favorite games as a kid?

Ari Pulkkinen: Let me think... Mega Man and the Mario series on NES were awesome.

Then Streets of Rage 2, Turrican 2, Doom 1-2, Warcraft 1-2, and the original two Fallout  games.

And let's not forget (analog) Stiga table hockey! Oh the sweet, sweet memories...

When did you realize you wanted to make games as a career?

After briefly studying engineering, I realized that basic office job just wasn't my thing. I wanted to create something of my own...

Do something artsy and have fun in the mean time!

Frozenbyte offered me an in-house music and audio director position in 2003 and I've been working professionally in the industry ever since.

After my first commercial game Shadowgrounds  was released in 2005, I realized game development was my career of choice.

What was your first role in the industry? How did that turn out?

The first game project I ever participated was a huge freeware game called StarFight VI: Gatekeepers in 1999, for which I created music and audio.

The game was featured in PC Gamer in the UK and Germany and soundtrack gathered a lot of positive feedback. When working on the project I got to know a lot of people from the so-called demo scene and all the few Finnish game developers of the time.

What do you consider your first significant success?

In my opinion the first commercial game I participated on (Shadowgrounds, PC 2005) was a success. I created an hour-long soundtrack for it, lots of sound effects, and surprisingly even a few world and character designs. After the game was released, I felt like a real pro!

The second really important game for me was Trine. It was a very important project for me as a composer and the soundtrack was very well received.

When did the potential for mobile games become apparent to you?

After the first games in mobile devices, such as Snake  from early Nokia phones conquered the world. Also, Nintendo's Game Boy was a real deal!

Angry Birds - the game that took mobile gaming audio to a new level

I've never been surprised about the success of mobile games; it has always felt like a natural progression.

What do you think is the most significant event in mobile gaming to-date?

My opinion might be a bit biased but I really think Angry Birds made mobile gaming mainstream.

It connected everybody; kids, teens, adults and elderly people were now playing the same game and obviously having fun! It came out in a right time and it was a really polished and well-thought product.

To-date, what are you most proud of? Any regrets?

I'm really proud of all my work, but if I would have to pick something in particular, as a musician I am most proud of my work on Trine  and Resogun.

In term of sound design I am incredibly proud of Angry Birds. It is incredible that over a billion people have heard my pig-style laugh on that game.

Which mobile games have you most enjoyed recently and why?

I like slower games on mobile, so I've enjoyed mostly tower defense games such as Kingdom Rush  and tactical games like Plague Inc.

Everyone loves Hearthstone

From recent games, Hearthstone  is my newest favorite!

What are your predictions for the new big development in mobile games?

Let's go nerd crazy here! When we are able to enjoy our mobile devices with virtual reality glasses, I really do look forward to blasting some virtual enemies in real world situations.

How about running around in a forest with your friends carrying airsoft guns, playing synchronized co-op war-games with some scary-ass monsters showing up in your VR glasses? That would be so sweet.

In which area of the industry do you hope to make a difference in future?

I really hope that I will be remembered as a great video game composer, but I'm also really looking forward to create some reality-bending sound design for virtual reality games.

P.S. check out a VR game called Reset!

Starting out in simple monochrome in the days of Snake and WAP, the past decade has seen the mobile games industry kaleidoscope into a glorious, multi-billion dollar sector that's driving global innovation.

So it's high time we celebrate some of the people who helped make that journey possible - something PocketGamer.biz is doing in its regular Mobile Gaming Hall of Fame feature.

You can read our previous articles here.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.