Pikmin 3 Review
Pikmin 3, released in July 2013, developed by Monolith Soft and Nintendo, probably strikes most gamers upon initial observation as being a rather odd looking game. However, this being the third game in the series, Pikmin 3 continues to demonstrate just how truly enjoyable this franchise is, not only establishing itself as another must have game for the Wii-u through solid game design but showing that Nintendo are able to create games that focus on something other than the many classic mascots they have relied upon for many of their releases (I’m looking at you Mario!). But what does Pikmin 3 bring new to the table from the previous games and why the heck should you buy a game that has cute leaf people serving as your troops? Well, before I can get to that, I should probably start with what this game is actually about.
Pikmin 3 sets the scene without Olimar, the previous main character of the last two games, by telling the story of the population inhabiting the planet Koppai who, due to poor levels of management and planning, are on the brink of starvation. In desperation they send out a probe to locate sources of food on other planets with almost no success until at the last moment they locate the not so close planet, designated as PNF-404, as containing viable food sources. From here, three explorers are sent off to locate and retrieve the food from this alien planet in order to save the lives of every Koppaite, however upon arrival something goes wrong with the landing leaving the explorers separated not only from their ship, but each other. These three explorers are the main characters you control throughout the course of the game, with the starting priority being to re-unite and locate your ship before retrieving food needed for not only the survival of your home planet, but your own survival on the mysterious planet you find yourself stranded on. As you might imagine, the pressure to do well feels quite high early on.
Fortunately right from the get go you encounter the Pikmin who are crucial to not only your survival but pretty much everything you need to do on the planet, from fighting off nasties to bringing fruit back to your ship. After the game guides you through the tutorial, while going through a couple of notable events such as the discovery of your ship, the classic time limit representing a day in the game begins (set at about roughly 20 minutes) as you race about, throwing your Pikmin at the various threats that roam about, searching for any device that could help your ship locate the rest of the crew and of course, gathering food. However, if you fail to take account of your Pikmin by the end of the day, both your own ship (with you in it) and theirs will fly up out of the planet’s surface to safety while the stragglers are left behind to be consumed by the tougher predators, heart wrenching stuff. Your explorers also go through one lot of food at the end of each day, so if you haven’t got fruit stored away it’s game over, however with one exception this is rarely ever a problem as it’s usually very easy to gather at least one lot of rations within a day from the fruit available to gather.
In the same way the Pikmin are needed for your survival, they require you to give them orders, such as collecting pellets or the corpses of your recently defeated foes back to their ship, referred to as an Onion, in order to create even more Pikmin, crucial to their own survival. More Pikmin can then be used to fight bigger foes and carry bigger objects, leading to a formula that gets addicting very quickly, however only 100 Pikmin can be on the field at any one point in time. The strategy to the game comes in a few forms, one of the main ones being the various types of Pikmin you encounter as you progress further into the game. For example, red Pikmin are the best at fighting and have full resistances to fire while rock Pikmin, new to the series, do more damage when thrown and are unable to be crushed by the bigger foes you encounter in the game. Also new to the series, flying Pikmin are able to hover over water and, well, fly, however they are very fragile meaning care must be taken to avoid them encountering anything other than airborne enemies. There are 5 total types of Pikmin to encounter during the main game which eventually leads to some clever combinations required in some of the tougher areas, such as using rock Pikmin to smash through the armour of a tougher foe before tossing in red Pikmin to do large amounts of damage to the exposed flesh.
It’s moments like these where the controls can be both easy and frustrating to use. A is to throw, B is to dismiss Pikmin, the joystick is to move, pretty much all the controls work as expected. The problem comes in with where you aim, which when using the gamepad (which I primarily used) is shared with the controls for where you walk, so at times you’ll find yourself juggling with running from the enemy while trying to throw pikmin to attack and calling back any who are in danger of being eaten. Pikmin deaths are sad, especially as their existence is very much dependent on you and they are your sole reason for being alive, so when they die due to you being unable to call them in without running smack bang towards danger it can be quite aggravating. Speaking of controls, Pikmin 3 is one of the few games that actually makes good use of the Wii-u gamepad, allowing you to view the map, watch videos received from transmissions and more easily multi task between the explorers when found, an advantage of having 3 main characters, by assigning points for them to automatically walk to. It’s so well implemented that it’s almost difficult to imagine the game without it.
In practically every other aspect, Pikmin 3 does well. The graphics have been updated from the previous games to look even better in the giant earth like setting you romp around in, the music will alternate to match with whether you’re peacefully roaming about or engaged in battle and on top of collecting fruit, some of which involve defeating various bosses, there are data files placed throughout the areas you explore which makes for plenty to do. Days can also be replayed, which I always took advantage of by finding new ways to more efficiently manage my explorers and gather fruit in the fastest way possible, although this made apparent how easy the game really is when I had 66 days worth of rations upon completing the game. There are also missions to complete that range from defeating enemies or gathering treasure and a competitive multiplayer mode that allows you to challenge your friends in using Pikmin to collect certain items that appear on a bingo card. Neither of these modes are particularly worth going into, but they are there and certainly nice additions to what is already a great single player experience.
So in summary Pikmin 3 is a relatively easy but enjoyable game with a single player story that provides several hours’ worth of entertainment, even more for the hardcore completionist. The varying Pikmin allow the game to challenge you with a range of situations and enemies that are satisfying to overcome. The controls can cause the occasional frustrating (and somewhat agonising) Pikmin death and the inability to choose any difficulty other than what is presented by default may make the game overly easy or hard for some. But overall Pikmin 3 is a solidly enjoyable game that should be a mandatory part of any Wii-u gamer’s collection.
All images used in this review were taken from other sites.