Oh Pikmin, how long we’ve waited to play with you. Not since the Gamecube days (not counting the Wii re-releases), have we had the opportunity to command you in order to help our cause. Fortunately, Pikmin 3 has arrived on the Nintendo Wii U, and it’s fantastic journey through an alien planet with crystal clear ponds, lush greenlands and snowy plains.
In Pikmin 3, you get to play as three astronauts who have been sent out on a spacecraft from their home planet of Koppai, in order to look for more resources. Unfortunately for them, their craft crashes, which splits up our little alien friends and players will work to bring them back together in order to solve a variety of puzzles along the way. This of course, is the first Pikmin game in which players have three characters to use. Each character can control their own group of Pikmin or even launch each other to other platforms, which makes certain obstacles a little easier to tackle.
Then there are the Pikmin themselves, who come in a few styles. There are yellow Pikmin who are resistant to electricity and can also conduct it as well. They also have the ability to get thrown higher and further than the other Pikmin. You’ll also find red Pikmin who are resistant to fire, while rock Pikmin can break crystals and glass. Players will also come across pink Pikmin, who have the ability to fly. Each Pikmin type comes into play during the game and may times, you’ll find yourself backtracking in order to get past a previously unpassable area, once you’ve come across that particular Pikmin.
The level design in my opinion, is well thought out. It’s as if though every area, platform or obstacle serves a particular purpose and nothing seems to go to waste. You’ll sometimes even run into areas that seemed out of place, until you realize that something can happen, such as finding areas where yellow Pikmin can dig through.
Players have the choice of using either the Wii remote and nunchuck combo or the Gamepad. Personally, I enjoyed using the remote and nunchuck as the aiming mechanism was more intuitive and responsive. However, using the Gamepad, you get a full map of the area, which is invaluable for figuring out what to do. You could also use the Wii remote and nunchuck, while keeping the Gamepad at viewing distance, so you could get the best of both worlds.
As with previous games, you’ll need to find food to keep going through your exploration, namely fruit that gets turned into juice. You can always go back to a previous day if you feel like you have a better strategy, though once you complete a previous day, you can no longer go back to a future day, so it’s up to the player to be as strategic as possible.
Perhaps the core of the game is the relationship you seem to build with the large groups of Pikmin you encounter. Many times, during battles, they would perish, which made me feel like an a-hole. Also if you don’t get them back to your ship or if they aren’t in your group when the sun comes down, you’ll see them get eaten by the various critters that roam the planet, as if to remind you how much of a jerk you are if you don’t take care of them. Sure you can always find more and pluck them out of the ground, but there’s a certain sense of responsibility with the Pikmin that makes you care.
While the focus of the game is on the story mode, which for me took about 11 hours or so, there’s also a Mission mode that challenges you and even a friend to complete levels that are clearly tougher than what you find in the story. These missions are fast-paced and also introduce other Pikmin type to mix things up.
Aside from Mission mode, you also get a local multiplayer mode called Bingo Battle, which pits two players against each other, as they try to fill out a Bingo card with fruits and enemy types. Veterans of the game will remember this mode in Pikmin 2, albeit with some changes in the rules.
Nintendo has developed yet another winner with Pikmin 3, that while short and not super challenging, is fun, engrossing and beautiful to look at. It’s a can’t-miss game for any Wii U owner and a much needed addition to a barren Wii U library.
Final Score: 4.5 out of 5