After a 9-year hiatus, Nintendo finally brings back their obscure yet addictively cute franchise, Pikmin. If you haven’t played any of the Pikmin games, the general idea of the game is all the same. As an astronaut, you crash land on a mysterious island inhabited by the cute and adorable pikmin in search of food and ship parts. Unlike the first two games though, you do not control the main protagonist Olimar. This time around, you take control of three different astronauts: Alph, Brittany, and Charlie.
The general idea of Pikmin 3 is to collect pieces of fruit spread throughout 4 different areas using the help of a variety of pikmin. There is a catch though. You are not allowed to explore when night hits so you must complete everything before the day ends or suffer the wrath of the nocturnal enemies of the planet. Each day lasts around 15 minutes and there is a meter on the top of the screen that allows you to know what time of day it is. This is a concept that has been in all three pikmin games and it does add a little difficulty.
Because you are stuck on the planet, you must begin to find your own source of food. Your characters use the pieces of fruit you have collected and create a fruit juice that allows them to survive. After a day passes, your characters drink one of the fruit canisters. This adds some more difficulty to gameplay as you must consistently ensure you have food supply, otherwise, it is game over. Although this was added to induce some stress, I was never in danger of running out of food supply.
There are five types of pikmin at your disposal in this game. The first three, red, blue, and yellow, have been around since the first game. Two new types, winged and rock, are introduced this time around and bring with them a whole new type of gameplay. Each pikmin has their advantages. Red pikmin are stronger and can walk through fire, blue pikmin can swim without fear, yellow pikmin jump higher and can walk through electricity, rock pikmin are hardy and can break crystals, and finally, winged pikmin provide flight and can reach higher items. It is incredible to see the depth of puzzles the developers have created. They definitely create clever ways for you to use each variety of pikmin, and some areas are blocked off until you discover a certain type of pikmin that allows you to access it.
Because this is Nintendo’s first foray into HD gaming, it is absolutely stunning to see the world of pikmin on an HD screen. The level of detail is incredible and it is nice to see a variety of different landscapes. As mentioned before, there are 4 major areas, with one final one for the final boss. Each landscape is different from the next one and it is amazing to see different details in each one. The enemies of the planet (and trust me, there are many stunning boss battles) are vibrant and pop with color and creativity.
If there were one drawback of Pikmin 3, it would definitely be the controls. Nintendo has allowed you to use the gamepad or the wii mote/nunchuck combo. The gamepad screen utilizes a map to allow you to see the areas you have discovered and what fruits are still left to collect. For the duration of my gameplay, I used the gamepad and found that sometimes, it was very difficult to control my pikmin. There would be instances where I would try to lock on to an enemy, but the controls were just not responsive enough. This would result in many of my pikmin to be eaten. There were just moments of pure frustration which made me wish the controls were a bit more refined. I have read that the wii mote/nunchuck combo fares better although it is very hard to access the gamepad’s (which must remain on) map.
Overall, Pikmin 3 was an enjoyable experience. It was welcoming to visit the pikmin world again, especially in HD. The game has a duration of about 13 hours with some side missions and multiplayer options available as an added bonus. Nintendo has recently added some DLC with a variety of extra missions which allows for some extra replay value. Although the gamepad’s controls are a little shaky, it shouldn’t deter you away from this short but addictive game.