Pikmin 3 is a long awaited title for the Wii U, from a series last seen on the GameCube (excluding repacked Wii versions). With Pikmin 3 picking up the flow of games from Nintendo, I was excited to say the least. The first game I had for my GameCube was the original Pikmin and I can still remember running around with my little army trying to piece back my spaceship for hours and hours. With good memories playing the original, the only thing I could do was hope that this new edition to the family is the best yet.
Our story sets off with a narration, explaining everything you need to know about your home planet and how it is being consumed by overpopulation and suffering from an insufficient food supplies. Ships have been sent out all over space to find another planet that save the population with a bountiful supply of food.
This is where we meet out team; Alph is an engineer, Brittany, a botanist and Charlie, the captain of the SS Drake. One planet has shown signs of being a suitable home and this planet is called PNF-404 which looks suspiciously like Earth. During entry into PNF-404’s atmosphere there is trouble and all three explorers and ejected from the Drake and left scattered.
PNF-404 has an abundance of fruit that the team could use to save their species, however the fruit is too big for you to carry. This is where you end up roping in the native folk, Pikmin, to help out. From here the story plays out and you’re given 100 days to complete your mission. Plot-wise it’s nothing too special and there is clear environmental issues being hinted at to us from the game, but boy is this game fun to play.
There is a running theme in Pikmin 3 and that is fruit. You need to find fruit everyday to build up a stock pile to survive and scan every piece of fruit to report back to Koppai. There is sixty six pieces of fruit scattered across PNF-404 for you to find, giving you a total 100 days to land, do your business and get back home. One thing that seemed strange was how the SS Drake could possible get juice from fruit like bananas and avocados. Maybe it is just me being picky or these aliens really can turn anything into juice.
With the Pikmin games being so similar it can be expected that a lot of the techniques have been used before but there is also a few new that are introduced. The main is the introduction of voices for the character who will speak to themselves or have conversations with each other, even though they are talking in their own language (a bit like The Sims) it adds a whole new dimension to the game.
A great new addition is the targeting. You can now lock on to an enemy, scan them to find out all you need to. You can send your whole force at them in one blow but you can target a specific part of the beast and destroy them in seconds but this can be a bit frustrating. Once you’re locked on, sometimes you will have to unlock the target yourself instead of it being automatic, this can get very sticky in battles. With there being three captains you are free to send one off with a group of Pikmin to one are while you set off with a group of your choosing, allowing you to get all that you need to do in a day. While planning your day it is easy to plan your route with the birds eye view featured on the GamePad. If you have a full day planned and you come across some unexpected enemies, it is simple to take them out quickly with swarming all your Pikmin to gather and unleashing them on the unexacting beast and if things get a little tricky you can command all your Pikmin to quickly roll from left to right to avoid damage and losing your army.
Organisation is key to this game. There were times I stumbled into a boss and couldn’t attack because I have the wrong type of Pikmin! So you need to think ahead and be ready for what ever comes for you so you best plan those routes, be ready to solve problems and try and get everyone back home safe. If I left any Pikmin behind at the end of the day I really felt sad for them.
I was blown away when I ran into the first boss, all of them are amazingly monstrous and more difficult than anything I have encountered on Pikmin before, although they do retain the damage you have given them over night so you can swoop in during the morning and finish them and do what you have to for the rest of the day.
A new edition I really liked in the game was when you find new onions. At the end of the day they come together to make a master onion to store all your Pikmin instead of having to ponder over to the blue onion for blue Pikmin, then to red. Different situations call for different Pikmin as each kind can’t do the same task as others. Red are fire proof and the strongest fighters, blue are water proof, yellow can use electricity and are lighter, rock Pikmin can smash crystal and rock walls and winged Pikmin can fly to carry fruit and dead enemies above the ground and over water. It allows for a great variety of gameplay and adds to the strategy.
Pikmin 3 may seem a friendly game but there is a lot of dangers out there with enemies like the Whiptounge Bulborb who will suck up five Pikmin at a time with its tongue, the Bearded Amprat that gives off electricity, the Puroclasmic Slooch which is basically a slug drenched in fire and there is also Packish Aristocrab, Skutter Chuck, Sputtle Fish and the Skeeterskate who needs the blue Pikmin to defeat them.
From the start line everything feels a little rushed, you locate a signal then you are on to the next and then the next. That is one of the very few problem I have with this game, coupled with an overall play time that’s just shy of 10 hours. I very much enjoyed the game and I was fully immersed in it but it leaves a lot to the imagination.
Controller-wise, there are many ways to play Pikmin 3, the main of course being the GamePad and the TV. There is also off-screen play, the option to play with the Wii U Pro controller which gives a GameCube feel to the game with the map on the GamePad and there is also the Wii Plus remote and nunchuck option, clearing up the screen and allowing more accurate aiming.
The first thing you notice as soon as you start Pikmin 3 is the sheer beauty of it. It is the most beautiful in the franchise by far – HD and this game go together like Gordon Ramsay and his bad language! I don’t think I have seen water look so refreshing and crystal clear in game and the fruit looks plump, juicy and ready to burst. Even the Pikmin look more adorable than ever, and they’re even a little bigger to make them stand out more. When I saw the first boss I was stunned, it was so well designed and each component that required different Pikmin locked together perfectly, I was intimidated to say the least.
While in caves the atmosphere was dull, gloomy and dark but as soon as you step foot outside, it was as if someone flipped a switch. Suddenly it was bright and colourful, making this game just a joy to play. With a game so beautiful, it was a shame that the screen was just a little too cluttered with the day countdown, Pikmin counts, fruits collected and everything else.
There are two way to play with your friends, there is a co-op feature for missions which you are given a set number of Pikmin to defeat bosses and enemies and collect gold in 7-10 minutes. The other is Fruit Bingo, which is a two player round where you and a friend have to collect enemies’s bodies and fruit to fill a bingo card faster than your opponent. Even though it is great fun, the person with the GamePad has a clear advantage, being able to see where everything is.
There is two types of Pikmin available in the multiplayer that are not in the main game. One is the white Pikmin which are fast paced with fast attack and also release poison when in danger and the purple Pikmin who are the heaviest and therefore slow, but they also can’t be blown away by wind.
To sum up
Pikmin 3 might have been a long wait for some and might be a little short on time but it sure does give a great big smack to your old memories of the first game. For me, this new edition blows its predecessors out of the water with beautiful HD, well designed maps and brutal boss fights but falls short on story and timings.