Developer: Nintendo | Publisher: Nintendo | Review Platform: Wii U | Also Available on: N/A | EU Release Date: 26/07/13 | NA Release Date: 04/08/13 | Genre: Real-Time Strategy | Players: 2 | File-Size: 3.85GB | PEGI: 7
Pikmin 3 is rough. You’d think that a game so colorful and cute would be marked up to just another of “Nintendo’s Kiddy Franchises”, thrown into the “rehashed series” bin and forgotten about. “It’s the same game as the last two, isn’t it? Why bother with it?”
I’ll tell you why. It’s one of the most intense, stressful games I’ve ever played in my life. One that manages to carry a heavy weight, a looming deadline, but still keeps things manageable. It’s the perfect balance.
Pikmin, for those who don’t know, is a series centered around commanding (enslaving?) an army of specialized plant-men to help you with whatever specific objective you need to accomplish. The original Pikmin was about the bold Captain Olimar crash landing and having to find his ship parts and leave within 30 days, lest his precious air supply deplete. Pikmin 2 was about the same Olimar returning home only to find his planet in financial ruin. With the help of his partner Louie, they return to the planet and find treasure – enough to bring their home planet of Hocotate out of the debt they’d accumulated.
In regards to Pikmin 3, I can’t say I was impressed with the new story arc. A new crew crashes into the same planet, wanting to save their starving home by scavenging fruits. This made the story a little bit disappointing and dry, but the data files found around the planet bring to life a complete new arc of its own, connecting the new and old crews, which is incredibly exciting if you’ve played the GameCube originals.
As the game progresses, you find yourself in the possession of three different captains, each one able to lead Pikmin to different areas. Having 2 different captains in Pikmin 2 seemed extremely overwhelming at times, what with having to control both at once, and – while controlling 3 may seem daunting – this is where I felt the Wii U’s brilliance really begins to shine. By using the GamePad as a mini-map, you’re able to oversee every uncovered place of the area where you’ve landed. You’re then allowed to pause the game, plan your day, and begin. The captains can move places simply by tapping on the screen and giving the command, and an overhead view of the area lets you see what’s going on constantly, and at the end of a day, you can replay your trip and try to trim down any unnecessary mistakes you may have made, going so far as being able to travel to any previous days to tighten up your schedule. The three captains will sometimes pop text out on screen to let you know they’ve arrived at their designated location, or to let you know that your Pikmin army is in trouble. It works wonderfully well when using the Wii Remote and Nunchuck with the GamePad sitting in your lap.
On the other hand, they’ve also given you the option of using only the Gamepad/Pro Controller to control. If you’ve played the GameCube titles before, you should be familiar with how it handles. The trajectory and aim of your throw is controlled with the left thumb stick, as well as your movement, meaning to throw at a specific area, you have to circle around to make sure your target is lined up with where you want it to be. It’s entirely frustrating, given the precision you’re sometimes required, however, to switch in between the control schemes is instantaneous, so even if you are struggling, all that’s required to do is press a button on the controller you want to use and off you go.
On a side note, they’ve also allowed Off-TV play with the GamePad by simply pressing the minus button on the controller, and it works insanely quickly to change between the two. However, you are not burdened to play with the GamePad controls if you’re Off-TV, as they’ve finally found a use for the Infra-Red sensor built into the controller, meaning you can still use the Wii Remote/Nunchuck controls solely on the GamePad screen.