Platform: Nintendo Wii U
Pikmin 3 is a game I have been looking forward to for a very long time. I loved the first two back on the Gamecube, and was hugely surprised when a third didn’t show during the seven years of the Wii. But to my delight Pikmin 3 was finally announced for Wii U. It’s actually only the third game I’ve picked for my neglected machine, but it’s definitely one I’ve been waiting for.
If you’re not familiar with the previous offerings, Pikmin is a game about planetary exploration. Doesn’t look that way does it? Then inhabitants of Koppai have almost run out of food, and three inhabitants, Alph, Charlie and Brittany are sent out to search the galaxy for a new way to sustain their planet. After crash landing on planet PNF-404, they find an abundance of giant fruits. However they are two large to bring back to Koppai, and in the end they decide to try to get some seeds home in order to grow their own humongous fruits. They discover the friendly Pikmin of the planet and by growing more Pikmin they could utilise their new found friends to help them on their mission.
The visuals are absolutely gorgeous. Like most fans I’ve been waiting for HD Nintendo games for a long time, and Pikmin 3 is the best looking one I’ve played so far. The surreal yet familiar locations are fantastic, miniature landscapes that really stand out in the Wii U. There is rich flora and strange and deadly fauna around every corner. The creature design is wonderful and the alien life forms are both familiar and unrecognisable. The soundtrack by Asuka Hayazaki is charming and the sound effects are loveable and endearing. As you’d expect with most Nintendo games the music is unforgettable and sticks with you for days after you’ve switched off.
The gameplay hasn’t changed at all since the first two games. Essentially it’s an RTS where you throw your Pikmin at whatever you want them to interact with. Throw them at a fruit and they’ll carry it back to your ship. Throw them at the almost always hostile wildlife, and they’ll defend you with their lives. I actually felt quite bad at points where huge numbers of my little troops were wiped out. The level design is great. Often you start a zone at a crash site and very quickly learn your surroundings, normally running into obstacles that you can’t quite get passed yet. As you explore further you’ll find new types of Pikmin with abilities to help you get through, and more importantly find new treasure and fruits.
The big difference in this latest edition, is you control all three explorers rather than just the one, and this is where the one and only Wii U gamepad feature comes into play. It displays a rather helpful mini map, this also lets you see where all of your squads of Pikmin are, and where the other two members of your team are hiding. It also allows for you to order your teammates to different positions on the map while you control the other. It also has a strange first person camera that seems to terrify the Pikmin, as you can imagine I only used this once.
The last feature I’m going to talk about is the incredibly fascinating multiplayer. It’s basically fruit bingo. Each player has a card at the bottom of their screen and the idea is collect your fruits like you were playing a game of bingo. This can be slightly unfair however because whoever is using the game pad can see the map, knowing where everything is.
My only gripes with this title are the controls and the length of the game. The lock on is pretty fiddly with gamepad, which can get very frustrating, especially if you miss a lock and then throw some Pikmin at nothing, causing them to stand still and almost certainly get annihilated before you can retrieve them. It’s much easier to aim with the Wii Remote and nun chuck, however this a huge disadvantage as you no longer have the mini map. The other problem I had is that I felt the game was over way to soon. The challenge just started to get difficult and I was beginning to feel confident I could take on something harder, when unfortunately the game came to an end. It’s not too short, but short enough that you notice.
I love this game. While it’s nowhere near perfect, it’s the best game you can currently buy for your Wii U. If you’re longing for something to play on your dusty little machine, I would highly recommend this. You can do a lot worse for your money and if you shop around a bit you can pick it up for roughly £30. It’ll keep you entertained until Christmas!