Hello all and welcome to my first review on my new site, obviously the site is under some construction but myself and my Pikmin comrades are working together to hopefully bring you something special, so with further ceremony lets take a look at the newest outing for Nintendo, the return of the beloved Pikmin series, for those unaware of the series, sit down and take a pen and paper and lets dive into Pikmin 101. The class is in session.
Pikmin History Lesson
For those unfamiliar with the ‘Pikmin’ series, it is another beautiful flower of a game series from Nintendo which sprouted from the green fingers of Shigeru Miyamoto, The original ‘Pikmin’ was released in 2002 for the Nintendo Gamecube. This cute single player Real Time Strategy game was met with a great reception overall, receiving several prestigious awards and achieving a metacritic score of 89/100.
The game was based on a plucky space captain named Olimar, who while on vacation in space, has his ship damaged by meteors which force his ship to crash on a strange planet inhabited by strange plant like creatures known as Pikmin. As he awakens he realises many of his ships vital components are now missing, being scattered planet wide during his crash, after a brief scan Olimar soon realises his life support will only last him 30 days, which adds a ‘timed element’ to the game. So Olimar, using the help of his new Pikmin comrades seeks out to gather the parts before his time runs out. Each day lasts roughly 13 minutes, during which you must battle indigenous creatures, solve puzzles and gather parts in an attempt to get the necessary 25 parts minimum before the days run out.
In 2004, a sequel followed again on the Gamecube, unsurprisingly titled ‘Pikmin 2’, as per the classic Nintendo formula, they took an existing game and dressed it for another outing, this time featuring new characters, settings and even more adorable Pikmin to throw into vast arrays of dangerous situations. Once again the title bloomed and provided another success story for Nintendo, combining rich graphics, updated gameplay and various streamlining features as well as an enjoyable multi-player mode. Once again the game was met with critical acclaim scoring a whopping 90/100 on metacritic and considered by the majority to be superior to the original.
After escaping the distant planet in the first game, Captain Olimar returns to his home planet Hocotate to learn that the company he works for, Hocotate Freight, is in severe debt, after a payload of golden carrots was supposedly stolen. Because of this debt, the company was forced to sell everything, including Olimar’s ship. Shocked, Olimar drops a bottle cap that he brought back from the Pikmin planet. The nearby Hocotate Ship determines that the bottle cap Olimar retrieved from the distant planet has a considerable value of 100 pokos. The company president, hearing this, decides to send Olimar and his co-worker Louie to seek out the planet where they quickly reunite with the Pikmin creatures, who help in scavenging the treasures, in order to pay off the debt. The game follows the same gameplay dynamics as its predecessor, however with more streamlined features/controls and a multiplayer mode. I will discuss the gameplay mechanics of the series in the review shortly.
Alas after a whopping 7 year gap we are now met with ‘Pikmin 3’, amazingly one of the few video game series from Nintendo to actually miss a generation of consoles without another release. Considering the advances in technology we are now met with a real development for the series, the use of the WiiU gamepad, while in 2004 would have been the thing of fantasy, is now a very real and innovatively fun reality.
So after that ‘brief’ history lesson, lets talk Pikmin 3.
Once again we find ourselves with another planet in peril, the inhabitants of the planet ‘Koppai’ are suffering from food shortages. Meaning that two inhabitants from the planet, Alph and Charlie, along with a representative from the colonised moon Kopali, named Brittany, are sent out in search of a new food source and as luck would have it they crash-land on the Pikmin planet (PNF-404), and find that it has an abundance of fruit, but because the fruit is much larger than expected, they cannot retrieve the fruit themselves. Meaning they have to turn to their new friends the ‘Pikmin’ to help them harvest the fruit and return the seeds to their home world to prevent their people from dying of starvation.
Brittany, Alph and Charlie
The story is typically Nintendo, which as always a great thing, there are lovable characters, great dialogue and plenty of interesting and fun references spread throughout the game to keep old and new Pikmin players alike interested.
Lets talk gameplay, Pikmin 3 follows the same gameplay as the previous titles, the premise is to use the several different types of Pikmin available to solve a variety of puzzles and problems as you traverse across the suspiciously earth like planet. In Pikmin 3 we see the return of the 3 ‘Original’ Pikmin Types which have featured in every game in the series. These are Red, Yellow and Blue Pikmin.
Red Pikmin are immune to fire based attacks/hazards and powerful fighters, a useful ability to dispatch enemies throughout the game.
Yellow Pikmin are immune to electrical attacks/hazards and can be thrown higher than other Pikmin to reach new areas and items.
Blue Pikmin are immune to water attacks/hazards, they are the only type who can traverse water and also they can save other drowning Pikmin.
However we also receive two new types of Pikmin. Flying and Rock Pikmin.
Flying Pikmin as you can guess can fly, allowing them to reach new areas/levels and bypass hazards or lower/raise bridges, however they are weak physical fighters.
Rock Pikmin are literally rocks, unlike other Pikmin they cannot ‘latch’ on to enemies, they can only be thrown to do direct damage or be used to break rock/crystal structures to solve puzzles throughout the game.
The idea is to use these Pikmin to your advantage over the time you spend on PNF-404, to solve puzzles, find fruit and carry it back to your ship for consumption and of course to battle the many indigenous creatures. You are able to have 100 Pikmin on the map at any one time which are retrieved from a single ‘Onion’ – a small ship which spawns Pikmin if given the right materials. This is a change from the original formula as the previous titles used individual ‘Onions’ for each Pikmin Type, however this does not alter gameplay significantly but it does save time and hassle.
Using the 3 Characters, you can share the numbers of and types of Pikmin and separate different team members to different tasks, adding whole new levels of versatility and allowing you to make the most of your relatively short days, remembering that if you are not back to your ship with your Pikmin by the end of the day the Pikmin left on the surface will be eaten by monsters at night. This game again uses a ‘Day system’ however you are not limited to a set number of days, you can have use as many days as you like but at the end of each day you must sacrifice one portion of food to keep your team alive, meaning that while you can enjoy the game at a reasonable pace, survival is still key, and making the most of your day as important as ever.
Overall the gameplay remains simple and fun, being able to spread your tasks and automate other characters, meaning that you can really achieve plenty each day with minimal hassle, this combines flawlessly with the WiiU gamepad, allowing for a tactical map and resources for keep track of Pikmin numbers and location. As mentioned the gameplay is maintained but enhanced to smoother, Pikmin really don’t tend to get as easily ‘stuck’ like they used to. There are several new and unique types of monsters spread across the planet in which to do battle and several new bosses, each more fun, unique and challenging as the last.
Visuals and Development
As mentioned earlier, the Pikmin series is renowned for its unique and unbelievably cute graphical style and Pikmin 3 does not disappoint, utilizing the WiiU’s HD capability to create a visually striking and beautiful game, this only gets more enjoyable as you scatter your 3 teams of Pikmin around the lush areas.
In terms of developing the series, Pikmin 3 doesn’t really break new ground, it sticks to a reliable formula with the addition of some HD visuals, a new control system in terms of the Gamepad and 2 new types of adorable Pikmin to launch into the jaws of doom. There is also a new ‘Challenge Mode’, which allows you to complete scenarios with limited numbers of Pikmin which can be fun and equally challenging as the main story if not more so. The multiplayer also returns with a few tweaks but remains as fun as ever.
In terms of flaws, Pikmin 3 like its predecessors has few to no flaws. Occasionally you will find the odd Pikmin pathfinding problems which can really be disheartening when you go to end a day only to realize you’ve left 5 Pikmin trapped behind a small wall somewhere which are inevitably eaten. Otherwise the only real flaw is the Wii Remote / Nunchuk system that can be used to control the game, it is quite hard to wield and has several camera issues, but considering the all round awesomeness of the gamepad for this game, you’ll probably never touch those controls anyway but player 2 may suffer some minor rage issues.
While I can understand that some Hardened fans of the series are disappointed with the lack of newer content, I think the new changes allow this game to be accessible to new players of all ages and skill, while remaining equally fun and challenging for returning players. I wouldn’t regard this as a flaw but it needs to be said as it is a valid point.
In conclusion we have another fun foray into the world of Pikmin with streamlined controls, a wealth of new and beautiful landscapes, monsters, characters and themes. While overall it is not a groundbreaking development for the series, it continues to maintain the near perfect Pikmin formula. This should delight returning fans and be a great introduction for new gamers. Having just finished the game’s story mode tonight, I can honestly say I couldn’t have been happier with the game, and the last boss battle adds a real layer of tension and ingenuity the likes of which I’ve not seen in a long time, I won’t ruin the battle but safe to say if you get to this point you will no doubt be as scared and delighted as I was. 469 Pikmin died in my 42 day journey through the story mode, please try to top it, the guilt is unbearable.
This game is a breath of fresh air in a market currently dominated by FPS’s and RPG’s, this is one of the best games made available in the last few months and serves as a great ‘other’ game to be playing. This game is borderline art in terms of visual elements, made all the better by fun and productive gameplay and controls. The only improvements I feel that could bump that score up are more challenges, a slightly longer story mode and maybe a few new gameplay mechanics would have been nice.
Thanks for reading and look out for more reviews soon!