The original Pikmin launched for the GameCube back in December of 2001. We were introduced to Captain Olimar after an impact with an asteroid scatters the remains of his ship all over the planet he manages to land on. On the planet’s surface he meets a race of creatures named Pikmin who he learns he can control and organize to help recover his missing parts so that he can return home.
The sequel, Pikmin 2, was released for the same console in August 2004 with more of the same. This time Olimar was joined by a second character named Louie and two new colored Pikmin to search for treasure on the planet’s surface. The general gameplay for both Pikmin games involved raising a band of Pikmin and guiding them towards you current objective/obstacle. Different Pikimin are useable for different situations (think Lemmings) and are used to combat the various beasts you run into on the planet’s surface. At the end of the day you round up all Pikmin and take off for a low orbit until morning. Any Pikmin left on the surface as the sun sets fall prey to the nocturnal creatures that come out at night requiring you to refill your ranks the following day somehow.
Nearly 10 years later the sequel has found new roots in the form of the Wii U as well as a host of new characters. Due to a population boom and resources running out on planet Koppai our 3 heroes; Captain Charlie, Brittany the botanist, and Alph the engineer, are sent to a remote planet in search of food. As they approach PNF-404 their ship, the SS Drake, malfunctions and jettisons all three crew to planet below before crash landing itself. The object from here is the same as the other with some slight variations. You need to get your crew together, find any missing parts, and collect enough food to keep your search going.
Was it worth the wait? I’m a diehard Nintendo and Pikmin fan so I can easily say yes. With all negativity directed towards the Wii U and its severely lacking library I think Pikmin 3 is a fantastic addition and a must buy. It keeps everything that makes Pikmin unique and ups the ante.
The original colored Pikmin are back with addition of a Rock Pikmin (think Hulk smash) and the flying Pink Pikmin, who can contend with flying enemies and obstacles. The onions (barracks) for all the different Pikmin actually merge into one at the end of the day instead of having separately colored ones. As the Pikmin are growing they will evolve just like the previous installments, leaf, bud, then flower representing their maturity and strength.
Obviously the addition of a few new Pikmin and some additional characters is all well and good, but the changes… er, refinements to the controls is what steals the show. You can still control up to 100 Pikmin on the screen at once, but now you also have the opportunity (once rescued) to switch between shipmates and control their Pikmin. In one Level Alph and Brittany are in two different locations with different Pikmin sets and must coordinate their actions before the day ends so they can move on together.
Combat is the big thing here so I need to go into the controls. The Wii U gamepad is a great tool, but is not utilized properly for Pikmin. I strongly recommend NOT playing with just the gamepad. Now, that being said, using the gamepad with the nunchuk and Wiimote is the best way to tackle this adventure. When fighting a particular nasty in the previous Pikmin you would throw an armada of Pikmin at the beast until they brought to justice. At that point you could have them haul the carcass back to base to dispose of and make more little friends to replace the ranks you may have lost. This time around you can aim where you want the Pikmin to go.
To give you an example, one of your first boss-like encounters is with a creature that appears to be encased in crystal armor. He runs around and tries to collect as many Pikmin into his mouth before he bites down killing them all. Now the new Rock Pikmin specialize in breaking crystal or glass so you could throw them all day, like the original game, but that would just remove the armor. Rock Pikmin aren’t the fighters, but the reds are, so once the armor is removed you can now throw the reds in to attack.
The scenario plays out much differently this time around. You start by throwing Rock Pikmin to break the crystal on the creatures head, once broken he starts rounding them up to take a fatal bite. This is where the Wii Mote becomes invaluable. You can now aim exactly where you want your thrown friends to go. So as my Hulk Pikmin are about to become lunch I switch to my red Pikmin group and aim for the beasts now exposed face (particularly the eyes). That’s right you can now aim at individual body parts of bosses and larger creatures. Once the Reds land on his eyeball and start tugging it forces his head back so my Hulks can escape. The ability to switch on the fly combined with the nunchuk/Wiimote controls for precision aim changes a lot. The gamepad is used as a fully functional radar and communications display. Again, you can play with just the gamepad, but you lose ease of use with the radar as well as that precision aiming. There is one nice feature of the gamepad as a radar and that’s what I call the “Go Here” command. If you’re looking at the map you can summon your Pikmin and press any location on the map and your whole group will just go there. It saves time (and Pikmin) at the end of the day when you have 30 seconds to get every one home and secured before the monsters come out at night looking for a Pikmin smorgasbord.
Now my favorite part of Pikmin 3 is the graphical and sound improvements. A lot of the Wii U games out now just haven’t looked that great, and up until now I was wondering when we were going to see a game utilize the newer hardware. Thankfully that time is now. The backgrounds, textures, and lighting are all top notch. This is finally a game for the Wii U that looks fantastic and sounds equally as good. The scenery and backgrounds bring the game to life in a very natural and organic way, while the sound effects and score go with it nicely.
I’m giving Pikmin 3 two thumbs way up. It’s a quaint adventure for all ages that takes everything from previous outings and simply improves upon them. Phenomenal controls, true HD graphics, MP support for certain game modes, all make this not only a great game to play, but a must have for any one with Wii U… plus Pikmin are just cute.