Available on WU l Published and developed by Nintendo l Classified G l Supports 1-2 players
REVIEW IN BRIEF > While most would agree that the latest Pikmin is a lovely visual showcase for Nintendo’s struggling console, it won’t be easy to find consensus beyond that. For some players, the game’s clumsy controls and frustrating bosses will again be too much to countenance. For others, these flaws will barely rate a mention, as they immerse themselves in some charming exploration and puzzle solving.
REVIEW IN FULL by Karen Jacobson and Erin Marcon
Karen: After spending a few hours with the first Pikmin, it took me about a decade to give this RTS series another go. Unfortunately, I found Pikmin 3 to be just as disconcerting as the original. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the concept. I quite enjoyed the idea of crash landing on a strange planet and commanding cute little plant-like creatures to build bridges, attack enemies and pick fruit. The problem was that I became too attached to the little guys.
…my interest in the game was rejuvenated every time I discovered a new type of pikmin.
Erin: Nintendo clearly went out of its way to foster an emotional connection between these feisty foot soldiers and soft-hearted saps like you. While the three astronaut protagonists in the game seemed enamoured with the pikmin, I had to be more disciplined. Once I began treating the pikmin as a resource, and a renewable one at that, I was able to get more done. It wasn’t always easy to watch my herd being incinerated by a Fiery Blowhog or gobbled up by a Whiptongue Bulborb, but in times of war, I had to be prepared to make sacrifices.
Karen: Remind me never to go to war with you. After using a Wii Remote to play Pikmin 3 at PAX, I was hoping for a better experience with the Gamepad. It was definitely better (I could usually direct my little guys as needed) but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. The map on the touchscreen was far from perfect and at times the camera made it difficult to target enemies.
Erin: I became accustomed to the controls, but yes, the map was counterintuitive. I liked the idea of splitting up my troops and directing them to different objectives, but the touchscreen implementation made this a real chore. Instead of allowing me to draw a line to my destination, it forced me to move the map itself while the destination marker remained static. Bizarre. All that aside, though, I found the moment to moment gameplay deeply satisfying.
Karen: Deeply? That might be going a bit far, Erin. It started off fun, but it quickly became repetitive. I found the fruit. I built the bridges. I attacked the enemies. Then I woke up and did the same thing the next day. Fortunately, my interest in the game was rejuvenated every time I discovered a new type of pikmin. Each colour brought with it a special ability (blue pikmin, for example, could breathe underwater) that allowed me to access previously unreachable areas. The pikmin also had their own little personalities, with each colour behaving quite differently from the others. Given your careless attitude to leaving them behind, you may have missed this.
Erin: I wasn’t careless. I was pragmatic. From where I was sitting, Pikmin 3 offered up more than enough variety. The two new breeds of pikmin opened up new gameplay possibilities and I loved trying to find the right mix of pikmin to solve a challenging puzzle or conquer a stubborn enemy. The presence of three protagonists also served to diversify the experience, with some of the best puzzles requiring me to shuffle pikmin back and forth between the three astronauts. My real issue with the game involved the boss battles. While these gargantuan creatures were beautifully designed from an aesthetic point of view, they were often a chore to overcome.
My real issue involved the boss battles. While these creatures were beautifully designed from an aesthetic point of view, they were often a chore to overcome.
Karen: Love? Really? There you go with that emotive language again, Erin. I never felt that way about any facet of Pikmin 3. And yes, this was especially the case during the mind numbingly frustrating boss fights. I spent more time waiting for the Sandbelching Meerslug to emerge from its burrow than I did actually engaging it in battle. Boring encounters like this diluted how clever some of the other bosses were. On a more positive note, Pikmin 3 featured some of the best graphics I’d seen from a Nintendo console.
Erin: After catching a session of Dot and the Kangaroo as a wee nipper, I’ve always enjoyed seeing colourful and expressive cartoon characters interact with more realistic environments. I never grew tired of watching my pikmin dive into a shallow pond or scramble up a snowy embankment. For me, this game was never less than mesmerising. I also had a real soft spot for the stoic little cast. Brittany was probably my favourite. Her pathological obsession with fruit juice was nicely offset by her complete lack of social awareness.
Karen: Mesmerising? What is it with you? The graphics were pretty, the pikmin provided a decent level of variety and the human characters had some amusing quirks (yes, especially Brittany). However, the repetitive gameplay just couldn’t sustain my interest for 10+ hours. It would have worked much better as a downloadable title at a quarter of the length and price. Maybe then I would have loved it, found it mesmerising and formed a deep connection with it… just like you.
Erin: Considering your unhealthy attachment to the pikmin themselves, you’re in no position to judge. I was going to end by describing Pikmin 3 as the second great reason to own a Wii U (after the uncompromising ZombiU) but you’ve convinced me that this may not hold true for everyone. Yes, I was frustrated from time to time, but as a fan of Nintendo’s sensibilities in general, and this series in particular, I found it wonderfully absorbing.