Pikmin 3 Review
You can’t get more ‘Nintendo’ than Pikmin 3.
And while recently being ‘Nintendo’ seemed to refer more to a company struggling to adapt to the times, Pikmin 3 proves all the qualities that we had previously loved about the developer.
Nintendo is a company devoted to quality; and it’s easy to forget that in light of the Wii U’s barren selection of games. Don’t worry though, ‘cause Pikmin 3 is a reason to get a Wii U.
Fans of the series likely won’t be very surprised by what is on offer here; you play a tiny spaceman exploring various landscapes using his newfound Pikmin allies to collect up all the things. And we mean all of them.
Each stage is separated into days – lasting around 15 minutes in total – and it’s up to you to use that time wisely. By the time sun sets you need to get the hell out of there, and any busy – or stranded – Pikmin are lost to vicious predators.
There’s a pang of guilt when those Pikmin are left scrambling for their lives. Partly because that means your forces have dwindled, but mostly because those cutesy death cries will haunt your sleep.
Nothing that adorable should be capable of such terror.
New To Pikmin 3
Pikmin 3 really makes use of its visuals, too. The Wii U proves it is capable of some gorgeous graphics here, and the level of detail in the environments are exceptional, making its make-believe universe all the more credible.
The effort Nintendo has gone to to bring its strategy-lite gameplay over to the Wii U should, as expected, be commended. Despite the potential depth Pikmin 3 is capable of, it’s introduced at such a pace that you’ll likely forget you’re playing a strategy game at all.
But there is strategy, and it’s surprisingly complex when it wants to be. At its most base this means the familiar task of splitting up your force – up to 100 Pikmin at most can be available on the field – to learning which units should fight and when.
New Pikmin in the form of Rock and Flying aren’t especially revolutionary, but they add to an already fully-featured palette that makes Pikmin 3 all the better.
Rock Pikmin do more damage when thrown – good for knocking those blighted bees out of the sky – while Flying Pikmin are generally softies but can carry items back to base quickly and with relative ease.
This combines with the traditional Pikmin, such as the Red Pikmin – immune to fire damage – or Blue Pikmin – can go underwater – to provide a decent choice of possible units.
The trick then, at least in later levels, is to understand the map, plan out your expedition and equip the relevant Pikmin. It’s all part of the need to plan your time efficiently.
Three Playable Characters In Pikmin 3
Meanwhile the ability to switch between one of three characters has two additional effects.
Firstly, you’ll be able to access more places – often hidden – by chucking your compatriots over ravines. A risky venture, perhaps, but you won’t grab all that tasty, tasty fruit otherwise.
Secondly, it means you can split your efforts. If you want to get more done in a day then you’ll need to keep on top of three different characters to ensure as few Pikmin are lost as possible.
You’re already splitting your forces by sending them off in different directions, losing any could make it a challenge to complete anything with any real efficiency.
This is particularly important when setting out to defeat a stage’s boss – these challenging battles can take quite some time – but the best bit about it? It’s all entirely optional.
You could just as contentedly take up extra days completing a level, and while the need to collect fruit to sustain your expedition (each day consumes one jar of fruit) quickly becomes less of a concern, Pikmin 3 never feels like a lesser game because of it.
It means that gamers of all abilities are able to get involved, and Pikmin 3 enables a sense of personal drive and freedom that few games manage to achieve successfully.
Is The Wii U A Good Fit For Pikmin 3?
As for its Wii U functionality, there’s admittedly little here to sell the platform. Using the Wii U Gamepad can, at times, feel a little awkward – part and parcel of a controller designed to be twice as wide as a traditional one.
Though Pikmin 3 includes a twee Gamepad replica in-game – the Koppad – to make use of the dual screen functionality, it’s never used for anything more than map and menu navigation and the odd communication between characters.
Useful, yes, but not quite the level of innovation we had hoped to see from the Wii U at this stage.
Not that any of this really matters. Pikmin 3 is just a brilliant, high-quality, well-rounded videogame and you need to play it. Simple as that.
It might look a little colourful for all you ‘hardcore’ gamers, but to its credit Nintendo has done a fantastic job of making a game that appeals to every taste – and that’s in a game where a cherry is named Cupid’s Grenade.
And really this is the key point to Pikmin 3. It might be part of a franchise, but it still feels fresh.
Part of that is because there has been very little to match this very unique style of game, but mostly it’s because – unlike Mario – Nintendo hasn’t drained as much as is humanly possible from these walking, squealing plants.
It hasn’t changed all that much from the Gamecube version and yet still Pikmin 3 manages to feel original, and for that reason alone it’s worth your attention.
This is Nintendo. This is what we want to see. Brilliant ideas, well executed. Give Mario and co a well-deserved rest, Nintendo, it’s time to let that brilliance shine again.