While Captain Olimar was flying the S.S. Dolphin on vacation at the beginning of Pikmin, it was hit by a comet and crash-landed on the planet of the Pikmin. During the crash 30 components of the Dolphin were scattered across the planet and Olimar landed with the wreckage of the ship and only 30 days worth of air. It was at this point that Olimar discovered the Pikmin and with their help luckily managed to find the engine of the ship, which allowed him to use the Dolphin to fly to various locations across the planet and recover the other parts of the Dolphin. There are 25 parts of the Dolphin which are mandatory for it to be able to launch at the end of the 30 in-game days, as well as 5 other parts which result in the "best" ending being shown at the end of the game, if they are also collected. Failing to collect the essential 25 parts at the end of the 30 days causes an ending to be shown where the Dolphin crashes. Interestingly the Dolphin's ship parts appear larger externally, but when brought back to the Dolphin the ship will shrink and self-fit the parts.
In Pikmin 2, when Olimar returns to Hocotate it is revealed that the President of Hocotate Freight has had to sell the S.S. Dolphin to help pay off the company's debts and the Dolphin is immediately taken from Olimar's possession, much to his dismay.
The following is a list of recoverable parts of the S.S. Dolphin in Pikmin:
The component which allows the ship to fly.
Uses batteries and solar cells to generate power.
Eternal Fuel Dynamo
Provides the Dolphin with an unlimited electrical supply.
Presumably acts as the ship's radar, but also unlocks the in-game map when recovered.
A very large bolt with red plating.
A weapon with incredibly devastating power. One of the non-mandatory ship parts.
Counteracts the shaking and swaying experienced in normal space flight.
Turns the dangerous radiation of deep space into harmless infrared rays.
Presumably used to measure radiation levels in the surrounding area, however Olimar admits he does not know the actual purpose of this component.
A gift from Olimar's son. If this component serves any vital purpose it is not mentioned, but it can be assumed it does as it is a mandatory ship part.
#1 Ionium Jet
This jet can apparently instantly propel the Dolphin to "escape velocity". Olimar also notes it outputs a foul smelling exhaust.
Manipulates the forces of gravity to give the Dolphin the final boost it needs during flight to reach "super light speed".
Some kind of gear which according to Olimar makes space piloting easier.
It can be assumed this is a flotation ring for emergency purposes. One of the non-mandatory ship parts.
Purifies the ship's exhaust to stop the output of pollutants. Apparently eliminating pollutants caused by space flight is a legal requirement.
A gift from Olimar's daughter. Identical to the Sagittarius and like the Sagittarius, despite being a mandatory part its purpose is never explained.
A computer that works outside binary restrictions to give the ship's computer more intelligence and emotional complexity. However it is noted that it makes the ship's computer quick to anger and only provides vague data.
The Dolphin's fin, which allows it to fly straight.
An automated satellite which guards the Dolphin. Olimar mentions that it has helped protect the Dolphin from space pirates many, many times.
A robotic component that can fix almost any problem on the ship.
A massage machine for the Dolphin. One of the non-mandatory ship parts.
A radio which can emit an S.O.S signal from the Dolphin. Olimar says it also broadcasts "voices from space".
A drive which utilizes the quark-binding metaphysical powers of gluon particles. Although Olimar doesn't fully understand the component, he does note it was very expensive.
A handheld ultraviolet light. It is apparently extremely bright and Olimar considers it "great for tanning". One of the non-mandatory ship parts.
A rotor made of rust-proof zirconium. Olimar says that zirconium is widely used in space ship manufacturing and that this particular component was very expensive to have installed, although he expects the mechanic overcharged him.
A cushion that functions as the Dolphin's pilot seat.
The nose of the rocket which gives it its sleek, aerodynamic shape. It was designed by Olimar himself and from above bears resemblance to a pokéball from the Pokémon series.
A reactor which converts permutations in the space-time continuum into pure energy. Olimar refers to it as "a strange new technology" and also says it works basically like "a big rubber band".
#2 Ionium Jet
Most likely serves the same or a similar purpose to the #1 Ionium Jet. Apparently it is very fuel efficient.
A large safe resembling a piggy bank. One of the non-mandatory ship parts.
- The S.S. Dolphin's name is a reference to the codename of the GameCube while in development, the dolphin.
- Upon recovering some parts of the Dolphin, Olimar will drop hints that not all ship parts are required to launch at the end of the 30 days.
- The colors of the two lights on the Dolphin change as Olimar progresses through the game. They are off when he crashes at the impact site, red after the Forest of Hope is unlocked, yellow after The Forest Navel is unlocked, green after The Distant Spring is unlocked, blue after The Final Trial is unlocked and purple after the secret safe has been recovered.
- From July 20th to August 3rd, to celebrate the Apollo moon landing, Nintendo distributed a replica Dolphin to players of Animal Crossing: City Folk.