The highly anticipated Pikmin 3 has finally hit store shelves. The game was once a promising Wii U launch window title before being delayed until the beginning of August which has left some gamers concerned as to whether or not the final product is worth owning the console to experience. While there are a few issues with the finished game, Pikmin 3 is a fresh, charming, and quirky adventure that’s nothing short of a must-have game on the Nintendo Wii U.
For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the original Pikmin - which released for GameCube in 2004 - is a strategy game at heart that requires rigorous planning and resource management to excel in. Players take on the role of a galactic adventurer who encounters alien creatures known as Pikmin. Quickly realizing the potential these things have when in swarms, the player begins to amass an army of the adorable plant-like beings to combat the hostile wildlife found on the planet and to transport massive pieces of treasure – All the while being mindful of the limited time they have to obtain these goods each day.
Pikmin 3 doesn’t try to change the formula that’s made past entries so enjoyable, but instead expands upon the premise of its predecessors. Ousting series regular Captain Olimar from the starring role, the third Pikmin puts users into the space boots of three new protagonists: Alph, Brittany, and Captain Charlie. These new characters are tasked with recovering food for their starving home world of Koppai – thus begins their desperate bid to find fruit and save their ailing race.
The underlying themes of Pikmin 3 make for a stronger narrative, but it’s the implementation of the three characters themselves that changes up the core mechanics dramatically. Building off of what Pikmin 2 started with the addition of a secondary character, Louie, Pikmin 3 will have gamers jumping between Alph, Brittany, and Charlie in an attempt to cover more ground and procure sufficient amounts of giant planet-saving fruits. Jumping between characters and juggling the daily workload can be an incredibly challenging task at times, but executing this feature correctly will net players a heap of fruit and additional troops.
All of the standard Pikmin that made their debut in the original return (with White and Purple Pikmin making an appearance exclusively in the game’s ‘Mission’ mode), and they’ve retained their trademark abilities. Red ones are still immune to fire, Yellow creatures are unaffected by electricity, and Blue Pikmin are capable of trotting through water. While all of these creatures have their practical uses, Nintendo has also added Rock and Winged varieties. Rock Pikmin can be hurled at glass walls and crystals (effectively dispatching the barriers), while the pink Winged Pikmin can fly – enabling them to carrier items over obstacles and take down flying foes with ease.
A majority of the fresh content that series regulars will enjoy comes from the unique abilities that these new aliens possess and the new scenarios that accompany them. Along with new obstacles and enemies, the need to find sustenance for the crew of explorers has become the highest priority. In order to keep exploring, players must have enough juice to feed the main cast of characters, and this is only obtainable by gathering the aforementioned massive fruit sprawled out across each area. Certain types of fruit will provide players with different quantities of juice, and Alph and friends will consume one canister of the vitamin-packed beverage at the end of every day.
While the challenge of finding consumables every day to survive sounds thrilling, the execution isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. There’s an abundance of fruit available, making a juice build up a very likely scenario. At one point during my playthrough, I accumulated a buffer of 35 days – meaning the game could have been left on for over a month of in-game time with supplies still left to spare. Pikmin 3 does offer challenges in other areas, but very little of it can be found in the gatherer aspect of the title.
Another grief that gamers will immediately encounter upon booting the game up is a lack of precision controls when tossing Pikmin. The Wii U GamePad, which offers an overhead map of the area for users, is an incredibly important device for players hoping to plan their method of attack for each day, but the fact that Ninty has mapped the movement and aiming reticule to the left joystick can cause frustration at times. The Wii Remote/Nunchuk combo offers gamers more precision when throwing their leafy allies, but the precision comes at the cost of the ability to swivel the camera and the map that works so well on the GamePad’s touchscreen. Fortunately, the game manages to shine despite these control issues, and it’s easy enough to grasp once becoming familiar with the controls themselves.
Pikmin 3 also includes local co-op and versus modes. For players hoping to team up with a friend there’s ‘Mission’ mode, and that allows users to collect treasure, battle enemies, or defeat bosses from the main campaign together. After completing a task, Pikmin enthusiasts will be awarded with a bronze, silver, or gold medal depending on how efficient they were at completing the task. Mission mode is a great option for fans who want something else to do after the main story has come to a close, or even if they just want to play with friends.
A second mode called ‘Bingo Battle’, on the other hand, will have players squaring off against one another in a bid to complete randomly generated bingo cards. These cards can be completed by securing the items pictured on them and creating a line, which makes for some really enjoyable times and a little heated competition. The only downside to both multiplayer modes is that a maximum of only two gamers can participate simultaneously, and the lack of online modes is partially a failure.
Pikmin 3 is an essential game for Wii U owners and it manages to pack a very serious punch with its adorable little stars. Whether it’s the wonderful aesthetic and graphics prominently on display within the title, or the fun-filled campaign and co-op features, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this game. Pikmin 3 has been a long time coming for Nintendo followers but, like the flower-inspired creatures that appear within the game’s vibrant world, the game has taken the extra development time and blossomed on the Wii U.
Pikmin 3 is available now, exclusively on Nintendo Wii U.
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