It’s been a long wait (10 years to be exact) but Pikmin 3 is finally here! For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Pikmin 3 is a real-time strategy game developed in-house by the video game legend (and personal hero) that is Shigeru Miyamoto. The player takes the role of one of three captains Alph, Brittany or Charlie and must collect fruit, beat enemies, solve puzzles and defeat bosses.
The story is simple. The main characters come from a planet called Koppai which is currently having a food shortage crisis. Thus they set out on a mission to find other planets that may provide a sustainable food source for Koppai. This is how they come to crash land on planet PNF-404, which is speculated to be Earth and is the home of the Pikmin. The Pikmin and captains spark a mutually beneficially relationship; Pikmin collect fruit, which turns out to be a viable food source for the captains and the captains keep the Pikmin organised and safe from the predators of the planet. As such the captains actually use these Pikmin to perform the mentioned tasks. Throw a Pikmin at a fruit and he will attempt to bring that fruit back to your ship. Throw a Pikmin at an enemy and let the fighting commence!
The Pikmin come in many varieties. Each different coloured Pikmin has their own set of skills along with advantages and disadvantages. For example, the winged Pikmin hover above the ground and so can carry objects across water and other obstacles. But, they are terrible fighters and so it’s not advisable to pit them against the larger enemies. A key part of a good strategy is choosing the right Pikmin for the right task.
The game is split up into 15 minute bursts which encompass a day in-game. The goal is to gather as much fruit as possible before the day ends. At the end of the day said fruit is turned into fruit juice and consumed by the captains. If you run out of juice, then it’s game over. The overall goal however is to try to complete the game in as few days as possible. Your day count gets added to an online leader board to see how you rank up with the rest of the world.
Another key part to the strategy of Pikmin is choosing the right control scheme. There are three available to the player. First is the gamepad, second the wii-mote/nunchuck combo and third the pro controller. Which is the best comes down to personal preference. Personally I actually found both the first and second schemes good for different situations. I never felt like there was any reason to use the pro controller, however. I took some footage to show what I mean. First up is the wii-mote/nunchuck combo. I used this scheme typically only for boss battles. The advantage of using it is the precision that comes with motion controlled aiming as opposed to aiming with the analogue sticks. Also with the gamepad you can only aim in front of you, with this scheme you can aim and target at things behind you too by simply pointing in that direction.
Next up is the gamepad. I think a little discussion of its uses is needed to understand the footage. The game refers to your gamepad as the “koppad”. Using the koppad the player can split the captains and Pikmin into three different groups. The player can then switch between each group by tapping the “Y” button. Once in control of one of the three groups we can tap the gamepad’s screen which instantaneously pauses the game. On the gamepad screen is a map of the area. We can mark out an place on the map we want this group to go to and then send them on their way. Then we tap “Y” and repeat for the next captain. Thus this lets us do three things simultaneously. Honestly it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experience before in a video game. It really brings a whole new level to strategizing. Playing in this scheme, I understand what Miyamoto meant when he described the Wii U as a machine made for Pikmin. Here’s the footage to show you what I mean. I hope it’s not too blurry
Do you see what I mean? It’s just awesome. By the end of the clip I had my PIkmin doing 3 different things for me. Continuing on like that and the player can manage their time super efficiently. Another benefit to using the gamepad is the full 360 degree camera rotation you can do with the right analogue.
The game is visually stunning. The levels are beautiful and well polished as expected by a first party Nintendo title. Miyamoto’s genius shines through with the level design. The music is simple and ambient, which really captures the feel of each area. As the game progresses and you acquire a bigger Pikmin army it because immediately apparent why that boulder is there or that piece of fruit was put on that particular ledge. Players can tap a camera icon on the gamepad, this takes you into a first person mode. Here you can snap pictures of your Pikmin in the environment and post them to miiverse for all your friends to see. Here’s a particularly funny one
Finally there are two other modes for the player to enjoy. One is bingo battle and the other are missions, both are single and two player. Missions can be anything from collecting fruit in a particular time limit, defeating enemies or replaying boss battles. At the end of each mission the player is awarded points and/or a medal. I absolutely loved the mission modes. Me and my girlfriend had a blast playing them together and still play them from time to time. I actually grabbed some brief footage of one of these missions. I wanted to show off the gamepads off tv play too, here it is (Cover your ears at the start!)
Again, sorry about the blueness, I may sort out getting a new camera!
Pikmin 3 is just one of those games where it becomes immediately apparent why it HAS to be on a Nintendo system to get the best possible experience. I’m putting it down as my favourite game of the year thus far. Its mechanics are fresh and innovative and showcase Nintendo’s vision of the gamepad.
I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on the game. I’d love to hear about yours so please drop a comment. If there is anything else you wanted to know about the game, ask away! I definitely did not cover all that could possibly be covered.
Again thanks for reading