Incredibly, it's been 11 years since Captain Olimar first plucked a ruby red Pikmin from the soil of an alien planet and embarked on a quest to find the missing parts of his ruined ship, the S.S Dolphin on the GameCube.
The brainchild of Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto
subsequently spawned a sequel which catapulted the cult classic through
the arboretum into mainstream consciousness.
Evidence of the game's
growing appeal can be found by merely glancing at Nintendo's work over
recent years. Transferring data from the Wii to the Wii U was anything
but a slog thanks to a wonderful animation sequence involving the
plant-like Pikmin. Olimar and some of his Pikmin chums are coming to the
next Smash Bros game, they made an appearance in Wii U launch title
Nintendo Land and nabbing a Pikmin hat in Animal Crossing: New Leaf always brings a
Now, Pikmin 3 has landed on Wii U, bringing the much-loved
series into the high definition era for the first time and with it, a
whole heap of expectations from a Wii U audience starved of first-party
The people of Koppai are running out of food and
decide to launch a trio of intrepid explorers - Captain Charlie, Alph
and Brittany - into the vast vacuum of space on board the SS Drake to
search for vittles to feed their dying planet.
However, a near
disaster while entering a suitable planet's atmosphere scatters the
three astronauts and so begins the latest entry in the Pikmin series.
3's gameplay isn't a radical departure to what has gone before - it's
still an action/strategy hybrid, where your chosen astronaut romps about
beautiful environments, recruiting an army of Pikmin followers to bash
through obstacles and drag fruit and assorted trinkets
back to the safety of the spacecraft before
Once darkness falls, nocturnal creatures emerge,
chomping down any Pikmin that have been accidentally been left behind.
It can be stress-inducing as the sun sets and you frantically leg it
towards safety before suddenly realising you've left a handful of your
colourful charges out in the wild.
However, despite the grim outcome
once dusk settles over the land, there's no rush to accomplish tasks
and the player is free to get their hands dirty rooting around in flower
beds and snuffling out new paths to their heart's content - as long as
there is enough fruit juice on board the SS Drake to keep the pint-sized
space explorers sustained.
Fruit that was hastily abandoned in the
rush to get to safety the night before is still there the next morning
and by taking things at a more relaxed pace, you learn to appreciate the
work Nintendo has put into crafting this delightful world.
come in various flavours, each type having
its own strengths and weaknesses and choosing how best to deploy them
around the luscious gameworld lies at the heart of the Pikmin
experience. Red Pikmin, for example are fire resistant, while the yellow
blighters conduct electricity, while rock Pikmin are a dab hand at
smashing through glass barriers.
Squads can be split, put into groups
and divided among the three explorers and this focus on team work
becomes vital as you progress through the game.
Pikmin army and flipping between sets is easily handled but despite
Nintendo's best efforts to integrate the Wii U's controller, the old
Wiimote and nunchuk system works so much better than playing solely on
Controlling via the Wii U's controller is a fiddly and frustrating business
and it jars when compared to the fluid motion sensing control
option. It's something of a missed opportunity and the Wii U pad is
quickly cast aside, only ever glanced at occasionally when you need to
check a map of the level. Its one saving grace is that the pad can be
used to take pictures which can then be uploaded on to Miiverse for the
world to see.
The to HD has had a striking effect and while
I've never been one to get overly excited about visuals, seeing the
Pikmin world in full, colourful, eye-popping HD really is quite an
experience. Every new piece of collected fruit can be rotated and gawped
at and it can be a mouth-watering experience, while Nintendo prove once
again that when it comes to water effects, they are the best in the
Sound design also stands out and helps give
Pikmin 3 its quirky atmosphere. The off-kilter soundtrack plinks and
plonks beautifully in the background, while the main characters chirrup
away to each other in a garbled tongue in a similar style to characters
in Skip Ltd and Punchline's games such as Chibi-Robo, Chulip and
Aside from the main story mode, there are two
others to dive into: Mission and Bingo Battle. Mission is split into
three activities: Collect Treasure, Battle Enemies and Defeat Bosses.
These are wonderful little timed excursions and can be played either
solo or with a friend.
Bingo Battle is Nintendo at its best and involves a head-to-head competition where players are tasked with finding
specific fruit and enemies to complete a line on a bingo card. It's a
riot, with players scampering desperately around the level in a bid to
outdo their opponent. It's a simple idea, but Nintendo execute it
brilliantly and is a mode which will keep everyone laughing and shouting
long into the night.
When it comes to first-party titles, Nintendo
are hard to beat. Their core titles are consistently good across all
platforms and Pikmin 3 illustrates this perfectly. It might not be
radically different to previous games but the Japanese giant have carved
out a slice of delightful entertainment which shouldn't go
unnoticed. Wonderful and uplifting, Pikmin 3 is a gem.