Pikmin 3 Review
Nine Years! Nine Years! That is how long Pikmin fans had to wait for a new installment in this much beloved franchise. Sometimes, Nintendo you grind my gears to the point of rust. As much as you irk me at certain moments, I cannot stay mad especially when time after time again you deliver extraordinary experiences. Pikmin 3 is, without a doubt, a worthy entry to the franchise and currently one of the best experiences on the Wii U.
Only Nintendo can sugar coat a story of invasion and slavery with a whimsical tale of collecting fruit. It is a perfect loo, to disguise Ninties plan for world domination. Koppai, a distant planet on the far edge of the universe, has mismanaged their resources and is now on the verge of starvation. To advert this catastrophe, koppai sends three brave astronauts; Captain Charlie, Engineer Alph and the rock Brittany on a mission to retrieve precious food resources located on am unknown distant planet coded as PNF-404.
Following the typical tropes of space odysseys – the small crew crash lands on the terrestrial planet but now worst of; as food supplies have gone missing during the misadventure. The three explorers are in a difficult predicament – not only are they burden with the mission to save their home planet but have to collect enough food to themselves or face starvation.
The concept of Pikmin 3 differs from many other real time strategy games. In Pikmin, you manage the Pikmin between the three explorers to collect the fruit. Performing well depends how well you micromanage tasks. For example, in most cases, it would be unwise to clump Charlie, Alph, Brittany and the Pikmin in one group to complete one specific task. To be efficient, you need to delegate the task to each explorer – set Charlie and his crew to build the bridge (or destroy obstacles) and finally have Brittany’s Pikmin forage for spicy berries and Alph’s Platoon are responsible for discovering fruit.
Management is made so much easier with the gamepad. Firstly, let me say one thing, I recommend using the Wii Remote and nun chuck set-up over any other available control scheme in Pikmin 3. Unlike, other games that use the gamepad arbitrarily – the gamepad – more specific the map is a necessity for Pikmin 3. The gamepad displays a live top view of the area, with that; you can see each individual Pikmin walking around and accurately locate areas that need to be explored. I appreciated the option to pause the action to take a moment to plan out my next move – time is precious, and there is not enough of it to waste.
Pikmin 3 has a level of anxiety rarely seen in video games. Like in previous games, you are bound by time. It is dangerous to explore at dusk, so the only option is to go out under the protection of the sun. Trouble is, the day in Pikmin world that is, only last a measly 13 minutes. Essentially, you need to manage your time well to collect food in order to finish the mission and forage enough food to feed your brave explorers at the end of the day. Strangely enough, there is a constant voice behind the back of your head reminding you of the quota. I set myself the goal, at the very least; collect one fruit a day, so my supply of juice does not deplete.
The fruit in PNF-404 is enormous – far too large for Charlie, Alph and Brittany to carry by themselves. Like all invaders, the trio recruit the native inhabitants to do the hard labour. Pikmin sure do lack the brains to think for themselves – anyone with a whistle – Pikmin will do whatever is commanded by their enslavers even run to their deaths. In Pikmin 3, there are five species of Pikmin. Series staples such as the Red (impervious to fire, good fighters), Yellow Pikmin (can be thrown far, conducts electricity) and Blue Pikmin (can survive underwater). The two new species are Rock Pikmin and Winged Pikmin. Rock Pikmin, obviously with the appearance and hardness of rock, can be thrown to shatter crystals. The Winged Pikmin, on the other hand, can fly over water and lift obstacles out of the ground.
Pikmin 3 is beautifully paced – introducing each Pikmin and the game designs brilliantly without rushing the players. Despite the time limit nature of the game, you are given efficient time to understand the mechanics. Consequentially, Pikmin 3 is both accessible and deep – an addictive strategy game like no other. Deep into the game I was collecting on average 3-4 fruits a day. The sense of growth in skill was rewarding and I could vast on the massive stockpile of juice – no longer worried about running out.
But I do wish there was more variety in the gameplay. Once deep into the game, you will be performing the same task as you were in the beginning of the game. Throughout the entire story mode – for the most part – you will be collecting fruit, finding ceramic tiles to build bridges, destroying dirt walls, taking down electric fences and cracking crystals. Occasionally, you will find the odd environment puzzle involving balancing Pikmin on scales. But that is about it? I can’t figure my finger on it, but I do wish there was more to do in Pikmin 3.
Perhaps, what I enjoyed most about Pikmin 3 is commanding my army of Pikmin into battle. It is empowering throwing the loyal cute Pikmin to carnivores – then watch them gnaw away into the flesh and even die for the sake of the master. I love the cute war cry the Pikmin scream when you command them to charge into an enemy. The final piece of the puzzle is the creative design of the enemies particularly the bosses. The artist at Nintendo should be given a lollipop for the good work in Pikmin. Only in the crazy minds back at Nintendo HQ could a splice monster between an onion and a crab could be created. How about a Bird that burrows itself underground? A Whale centipede? Pikmin 3 is artistically brilliant.
Much has been said about the graphics of Pikmin 3. It is a lovely looking game; very pleasant to the eyes. Obviously, one cannot ignore the look res textures on the floor but the character models and certain visuals effect particularly in Twilight River are jaw dropping. If Nintendo churns out beautiful games like Pikmin throughout the Wii U life, then the power difference between the next gen rivals would not bother me one bit.
Unfortunately, Pikmin 3 is a short game. Story took 8 hours to beat, and it took 15 hours to collect every single piece of fruit lying around. Apart from the main story mode – you can spend some time on Mission mode and the sublime Bingo Mode.
Mission mode tests all the skills learnt in the story – with 3 distinct objective; gather the fruit, defeat the enemies and boss battle. So your efficiency in management and leadership in battle will be tested. The fun comes from aiming for lucrative high score. Enough of mission mode because bingo mode is where all the fun is at. This is a cute play on Bingo – essentially, you need to collect fruit to make a line of 4 on the bingo card. The craziness comes from the competitive nature of the game. You can’t help but try everything in your power to get that line before your opponent. I can imagine this would be a perfect mode to pop in during a party.
Pikmin 3 may not light the charts on fire but it does light up the heart. Pikmin 3 is a game foremost about collecting fruit and slaughtering worthy beasts. It is charmingly violent, accessibly deep and colourfully gloomy. A one of a kind game. Enough with the oxymorons – Pikmin 3 is a unique experience and to date it is the best game on the Wii U.