With the Wii U selling less than Nintendo’s lowest expectations, many have been waiting for a consistent release of premium titles. Is Miyamoto’s new Pikmin the game that can open the floodgates? You can decide right now with the help of this review!
After such a long delay, everyone is expecting this game to be amazing in every aspect. In terms of the visuals, Pikmin 3 does not disappoint. You could waste your days away just admiring how beautiful the fruits look and wondering how the textures you see would feel when gliding your fingertips along the skins of those juicy resources. The game gives you a moment at the end of the day just to examine the fruit you’ve collected; no matter what angle you look at it from, the detail is impressive. In addition to the fruit, the enemy and character designs are done well. It’s as if anything you would use the in-game camera to take a picture of has been created to be observed and appreciated. While this is a positive for Pikmin 3, it also ends up being a negative. What is one thing you almost never want a picture of? Right, the ground beneath you. The textures of the ground wouldn’t be a problem if we weren’t already seeing some thorough details in the objects and living creatures around it. When something as remarkable as the fruit textures are juxtaposed to the ground textures, you can’t help but feel disappointed and ask yourself, “why doesn’t the floor look as good as the rest of the game?” Luckily, this is a flaw that eventually escapes your attention, and for good reason. There is so much to see in every area of Pikmin 3. No space is wasted in these densely populated regions. Wherever you go there will be enemies, fruits, bosses or items to be gathered. There may not be many areas, but each is detailed so greatly that it makes up for that.
For those of you who are used to the typical way Nintendo gives its characters voices, you won’t be surprised by the strange sounds that the main characters consider their language. They communicate using mostly nonsense words with a few that can be recognized. That’s more than can be said for the pikmin who use less complicated sounds to express themselves. Other sounds you can look forward to hearing a lot are the sound of hurling pikmin and using your whistle to recover them. Unless you’re someone who really can’t stand the same sound reverberating in your ears, the repetitive whistling shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Another thing you’ll notice that is repetitive is the music. If you’re expecting a game that is thriving with musical prowess, you’ll be let down. Though there isn’t much variety, the music that does play is enjoyable and is intense when it needs to be. If you don’t know you’re in a boss battle by the size of the enemy, the music will tip you off to the situation. When it comes down to it, what’s coming out of the television and gamepad speakers won’t win Pikmin any awards, but you’ll want to keep the volume up as the music sets the mood.
Story and Gameplay
This is the third time around for the Pikmin franchise, and the first change that players of the first two will notice is that you’re controlling new characters. Instead of scavenging a foreign planet with the veteran Captain Olimar, players will control a new squad consisting of Captain Charlie, botanist Brittany and astroengineer Alph. The S.S Drake, their ship, crash lands on the planet PNF-404 and leaves the crew scattered. Your first mission is to rendezvous with the rest of your crew members with the character you’re controlling. As time passes, it may seem as though each astronaut has a different goal for being on a foreign planet, but the main goal is to retrieve the cosmic drive key that allows the ship to return home and collect as many fruit to bring food back to their home planet.
Once you get past the intro, the actual flow of the game will begin. At the beginning of each day you choose what area you want to land on. What follows is what makes the game so special. Planning how to spend your day is vital to your survival. You’ll ask yourself: “do I have enough pikmin?,” “do I have enough fruit?,” “can I proceed with the main mission and still gather that lemon I’ve been trying to turn into juice for 3 days?” When you finally have your day planned out, you can go to the onion where the pikmin take shelter during the night. That’s when you’ll ask yourself, “what kind of obstacles will I face today?,” “do I really need any yellow pikmin today?,” “can I safely escort this many pikmin back to the ship at the end of the day?”
After the big strategizing part of the game is done, the action part of the game takes over. There’s no telling what kind of enemies you’ll encounter in new regions. You’ll be making your way through the day as the land starts to become covered in a blanket of darkness. The pressure sets in. As the nighttime looms closer and closer, panic ensues. You become especially nervous when you can’t seem to find that group of pikmin you left to carry a bulborb back to the ship. With the rest of your squad safe for the approaching sunset, you set out to save those few pikmin with your favorite crew member. When you finally find them, you realize they could have never gotten back to the ship without moving one particular obstacle. You retrieve your team of pikmin and make a mental note; that obstacle becomes the first thing to deal with on the list for tomorrow. Oh no, the clock is counting down. And with just 3 seconds left, you lead your group of pikmin into the safety circle for the night. The end of the day cutscene plays. The characters and the pikmin get into their respective shelters for the night and the spaceships fly into the sky. But something has gone wrong. You’re watching the end of the day cutscene when you see one lone pikmin running back to the already departed ships. Helplessness overcomes you as you watch one of your friends be devoured by nocturnal creatures.
There is a lot going on in this unique game. First is the tactical aspect. Besides deciding what to do with your day, strategy elements lurk around every corner in Pikmin. Each of your pikmin will sport one of many different colors. The color will represent the pikmin’s competence in many different areas. For example, a red pikmin is resistant to fire and deals a lot more damage to enemies when attacking while a yellow pikmin is lighter (so they can be thrown into higher places), resistant to electricity and digs faster but is not a very strong fighter. This is a great way to incorporate planning into both the puzzles and the fights you will encounter.
A big part of the strategizing that wasn’t part of the past Pikmin games is the ability to control three characters at a time. With a touch of the gamepad screen, you can tell individual characters to move to specific spots on the map while you take care of another task. This is the type of feature Wii U owners want to see in their games at the very least. It adds something to Pikmin 3 that could never be offered elsewhere. By mastering the gamepad planning ability, collecting fruits and pikmin becomes a cinch. In fact, not using this ability can be fatal. If you take too long to collect fruit, your character can be left to starve. An important goal of the game is to make sure you have food for the night approaching. If you don’t, it’s game over. If you’re going into a new day, and you know you’ll never be able to collect enough pikmin and fruit in time, don’t worry. You can always go back a few days and start over; but be wary. Doing this will erase the data that was saved past the selected day. It’s a fair give and take feature that will keep you from having to restart the entire campaign. Unfortunately the same feature is used to start a new game. If you finished the story, and want to start again to get a better score, you’ll have to delete your previous play-through.
The next part of the game is the action aspect. When you encounter an enemy, it’s your job to decide which is the best way to go about battling it. Some enemies will use fire while other will stay in the water. Using specific pikmin for specific situations is what makes the action part of the game special. One thing that can be concerning is the way you can get out of planning for certain enemies. It’s rather disappointing to think once you have enough pikmin to fight with, there’s no incentive to fight hostile creatures with the pikmin that is best used to defeat them. Instead of fighting an enemy that uses electricity with ten yellow pikmin, you could decide to use 50 red pikmin. A lot of enemies end up being so overwhelmed that they spend all of their time trying to shake the pikmin off. Once all 50 converge, your enemy never had a chance. You may have lost two or three pikmin; however, once you have a large number of pikmin of every color, it’s difficult to feel like you have a responsibility to make sure they all stay alive when you can last with the ones you have and grow more at a whim. With numbers, strategic battling becomes unnecessary.
Fortunately, this isn’t the case for boss battles. You can repeatedly hurl the wrong colored pikmin at a boss all you like, but it will never work. If the monster requires you to use rock pikmin, you can’t succeed even if you had 100 red pikmin. Every single one of them will be gobbled up, and you’ll be left defenseless. With that said, the boss battles will likely take you more than one game day if you’re not completely prepared or you’re trying to do other things simultaneously. Each of them are very different and require persistence. If you’re not impressed by the sheer size of those monsters, you will be impressed by how many pikmin you lose if you’re not on your toes. It’s nice to see that these enemies don’t hold back. One thing that many turn off hardcore gamers is that a boss will not recover any health if you fight it one day and come back the next day. You can’t expect anything different from a company that wants their games to be friendly to every gamer. If you are a gamer who wants a challenge, there is nothing stopping you from forcing yourself to defeat a boss within a day’s time. When defeating a boss, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment because you’ll be able to gather a special fruit and its body for a larger amount of pikmin than any other enemy offers.
Other things to consider and Game Modes
It is important to remember the things that cause frustration can be dealt with by being aware and having played enough to know how to avoid annoying situations. When playing, you can think of the pikmin as your loyal followers. Whatever you do they will do even if it means death. This can be very unsettling. Knowing how closely they follow you, you may choose to walk a very specific path. This can lead to several possibilities. An example of a possibility that is an obvious error is when pikmin will mindlessly follow the exact path you took even though new monsters or hazards have appeared in that spot. This possibility is not so much of a problem because the pikmin are programmed to walk your path; it’s when they don’t walk your path that’s even more infuriating. Understanding the mechanics, you will usually decide to walk a specific path despite the fact that it may be a slower path. One reason you would do this is to avoid water. However, sometimes your pikmin will make you feel like it’s a waste of time. Even though you walked completely around the water at a distance that gives your pikmin enough space to walk when they’re traveling in droves, you’ll have to keep an eye on them because sometimes spontaneously a few pikmin will try to complete the route faster and walk through water despite the self-destructive aspect of that choice. This wouldn’t be so irritating if it was something you should expect and it didn’t stop you from completing your goals in a timely manner. Another possibility that can result from a slight miscalculation is that you’ll send your pikmin into danger when you use the gamepad to send a team to a specific spot. This is usually not too big of a problem because the other characters will alert you if there are pikmin in trouble. You can then switch characters and save them. The problem that rarely arises is that the warning will come too late. If you send a team to a specific spot with only yellow and red pikmin but didn’t realize your character was going to walk through the water as opposed to taking the bridge, the warning could come after all of your pikmin are in the water and some have already drowned. Like I said, these situations can be avoided if you stay aware of those possibilities.
The driving force of the Pikmin games is the story mode. But what happens when you have finished the main story? Miyamoto has prepared plenty to do after you have finished. The first thing you can do is obvious – collect every fruit on the planet. There is a good number of fruit to collect, and if you plan to collect them all that will take you a significant amount of time. If that doesn’t take up enough time, there are global rankings. Want to be the best? You can see how your best time measures up to players around the world. If this isn’t enough to keep you busy, there are files scattered and hidden around the different areas. Ten of the files are secret number files that open a secret video on a website that is only accessible from the Wii U browser. Yes, it’s possible to find on the internet; but if you’re a competitive gamer, you’ll want to be able to say that you found all of the secret files yourself. If none of these goals are enough to keep busy, you can make up your own goals. Want to finish the game with zero perished pikmin? You can try, and the game will keep track for you.
If all of the options in the story mode aren’t enough to keep you busy, there is mission mode and bingo battles. Mission mode allows you to go solo or with a friend. There are multiple missions under the three categories: “collect treasures,” “battle enemies” and “defeat bosses.” A medal is awarded under two different categories: “solo” and “co-op.” Don’t think that a platinum medal can be won effortlessly; if you want the best medal, you’ll have to perform at a near perfect level. Whether you’re trying to earn the highest score in a mission, defeat all of the bosses at a “platinum medal” rate or play a cooperative mode with friends, mission mode has something to offer.
Don’t want to play cooperatively? Bingo battle takes everything you love about Pikmin and creates an incredibly enjoyable and competitive mode. Whether just trying to have fun with a friend or show who the best is, bingo battle can create a lot of laughs and competition. Your goal is to fill in a line of a 4×4 bingo card using the usual Pikmin mechanics. Sometimes there’s only one of a specific item, so it can get a little hectic. To add to the chaos, players can collect power-ups to attack each other with a large scale weapon. The only complaint for this terrific mode is that there’s no online mode. If there’s no one around to play with, you cannot take pleasure in a game of bingo battle.
|A lot of fruit to collect
||Bad floor textures
|Global rankings increase replay value
||No incentive to keep pikmin alive makes some enemies a simple task to defeat
|Secret files increase play time
||The pikmin don’t always follow the path you took
|Boss battles have both action and puzzle aspects
||Warnings about losing pikmin sometimes come too late
|Missions give you a chance to test your skills alone or with a friend
||No online Bingo Battle
|Bingo Battle gives a competitive aspect to the Pikmin formula
|Wiimote and nunchuck combination feels very natural for controlling the characters and the pikmin
The Acosta Statement
Want a game that can be played casually and competitively? THAN THIS IS THE GAME FOR YOU! Want a fun multiplayer experience? THAN THIS IS THE GAME FOR YOU! Want to invade a foreign planet and strip it of its natural resources to save your race? THAN THIS IS THE GAME FOR YOU! Pikmin 3 has a lot to offer, from a colorful kid-friendly game to strategic action game. If only there was an online mode for bingo battle, it’d be near perfect. If you have a Wii U, and you’re not buying this game, than what are you playing? C’mon, hurry up and join the crowd!
(In game photos taken with the in game gamepad camera)