Pikmin 3 Review: Plucky fun

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pikmin 3

Title: Pikmin 3
Price: $59.99
System(s): Wii U
Release Date: August 4, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Nintendo (Nintendo and Monolith Soft)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone 10+” for Cartoon Violence

Pikmin has always been considered an iconic Nintendo series, despite the fact that there have only been 3 installments in 12 years. When Pikmin 3 was announced as a Wii U launch title, it was an exciting moment. Not only was the series going to be resurrected 9 years after Pikmin 2, but it would be among the first next gen Nintendo games.

Unfortunately, there were some delays, which lead to Pikmin 3 missing the launch window. Despite it all, the game was absolutely worth the wait. While it isn’t perfect, it’s just what Wii U owners need.

pikmin 3

Koppai needs fruit!

The Koppaites are in trouble. The planet of Koppai experienced a massive population boom, and is in dire need of food supplies to support the people and prevent mass starvation. Exploratory SPEROS were sent out and one planet was found with viable foodstuffs – PNF-404.

A crew of three was sent out on the S. S. Drake. Their goal was to explore PNF-404, searching for as much food as possible to retrieve seeds for Koppai. Except there was a problem. As the ship entered the planet’s orbit, there was a malfunction that separated the crew and caused the Cosmic Drive Key to disappear onto the planet.

Pikmin 3 begins with players controlling Alph, the S. S. Drake’s engineer, as he attempts to find his companions, enough fruit to make juice to survive, fruit seeds to save Koppai, and the Cosmic Drive Key needed to get home.

pikmin 3

Recruit some Pikmin, find some fruit, and beat some baddies.

Pikmin 3 is a real time, strategic adventure. Players control the three Koppaite characters, Captain Charlie, Botanist Brittany, and Engineer Alph, as they use Pikmin to traverse PNF-404 in the search of fruit and the Cosmic Drive Key. Players use each character’s whistle to round up Pikmin, and can then throw the colorful characters at items, fruit, or defeated monsters to take them back to the S. S. Drake or Pikmin’s Onion. Pikmin can also be charged with destroying obstacles, creating bridges, defeating enemies, and other tasks to safely proceed through the world.

The thing is, you don’t have all the time in the world to accomplish tasks in Pikmin 3, and you must make sure you have the right Pikmin for the job. Players get about 15 minutes on PNF-404, before they have to return to the ship for the night. Food’s running low, so enough juice must be found each day to keep playing. On top of that, certain tasks need certain Pikmin. Only yellow Pikmin can work with electricity. Red are fire resistant and better fighters. Rock Pikmin are needed to shatter glass and crystal. Blue Pikmin can swim. Flying Pikmin are best for item retrieval.

Just be aware that Pikmin 3 can be stressful. The deadline, the constant search for food to keep Alph, Brittany and Charlie alive, the switching between characters, and some of the boss fights made my heart race. I never felt this kind of pressure in Pikmin or Pikmin 2, and it left me twitching like Tweak from South Park. A little challenge and pressure isn’t bad, but in the beginning of the game, I constantly felt this weight on my shoulders and it hampered my enjoyment of the game. Once you know where fruit is in areas, the anxiety is alleviated, but I would have liked a little more of a safety cushion so I didn’t feel so rushed. Granted, Pikmin 3 does eliminate Pikmin and Pikmin 2‘s stricter time limits, so that is a blessing. Just within the first two hours of play, I felt overly consumed by the quest for fruit.

pikmin 3

After that initial, harrowing few hours, Pikmin 3‘s only flaw appears. The control scheme isn’t that good. I began by trying to only use the Wii U GamePad, but the throwing mechanic is lacking if you only use the tablet. It’s hard to aim precisely. Using the Wii remote and nunchuk is much more natural and accurate, but then you have to have the tablet nearby, perhaps in a lap, for checking maps, supplemental texts or occasional communication between characters.

These control issues are even more of a hinderance in the supplemental Challenge and Bingo modes. Both are additional gameplay modes designed to offer additional experiences, with Challenge allowing one or two players to attempt to reach certain goals within a certain amount of time, and Bingo seeing which player(s) is better at direct Pikmin. In each case, accuracy is key. Sloppiness can cost you precious time or lose an item needed to complete a bingo grid. In each mode, the person with the remote and nunchuk will have the advantage. Both multiplayer modes are also only available for local co-op, and while that’s fine for Bingo mode, I think it’s a missed opportunity for the Challenge missions.

Still, aside from controls possibly making the Challenge and Bingo modes a little more difficult, both are fun little additions to the overall Pikmin 3 package. I preferred Bingo mode myself, as it was fun to attempt to gather all of the right items before my opponent, while also making a nuisance of myself to assure my victory. However, I’m confident Challenge will test those who enjoy edge of your seat, can I manage to accomplish this goal, missions.

pikmin 3

Pick Pikmin 3

Pikmin 3 does have some minor control issues and online multiplayer support would have been nice, but it’s still an incredibly solid Wii U game. In fact, I would say it is definitely a good reason to pick up a Wii U. Pikmin 3 is a lovely game, with adorable characters that belies its difficulty level. The campaigns’ missions are broken up into perfectly sized bites, meaning someone could consume the entire game at once, drinking in its delightful story, or savor it over the course of a few weeks or months. Not to mention the Challenge and Bingo modes provide incentive to invite a friend over for some fun. Pikmin 3 is a must-own Wii U game, and I hope more follow.

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