Pikmin 3

In Pikmin 3 there are three characters trying to find food sources for their starving planet. They crash land and encounter little creatures willing to help them explore and gather fruit. Pikmin is a real-time strategy adventure; pikmin have different talents so you’ll need to tailor your squad to the situation and direct them to collect things, battle and bring the bodies of your enemies back to make more pikmin. Hey, nature is brutal.

Pikmin 1 had a very tight time limit of 30 game days, Pikmin 2 had no real time limit and Pikmin 3 strikes a balance between the two. You start with limited food supplies but after the initial desperate search you end up with enough to enable more adventuring. There is a finite amount of fruit to find, but it you should be able to see everything and very obvious care has been lavished on creating an imaginative, living breathing landscape that’s a joy to explore. Time management is important because you need to make the most of your day but you can switch between the three characters and split them up to complete tasks. Having three characters makes a real difference to what you can accomplish and means that you encounter some very clever puzzles.

Very obvious care has been lavished on creating an imaginative, living breathing landscape that’s a joy to explore.

Another big part of the game is battling. One of the most satisfying things in this game is swarming an enemy with pikmin and watching them utterly destroy it in seconds. However, the boss fights are wonderfully, army-crushingly difficult. There is a real horror at seeing something over five times the height of your pikmin rise up out of the ground and eat half of your squad, even more so if you’ve come unprepared. The boss battles are so big that you can’t always complete them in one day but thankfully the damage carries over and the spoils are always worth it.

While the game is difficult in places, it never feels impossible and you always know exactly what you have to do or where to go. It’s a testament to the game’s careful structure that you never feel out of your depth, but still feel challenged. The same goes for the tight level design – as with the previous games there aren’t that many ‘levels’ but they open up as you discover more pikmin. Backtracking is optional – the story can continue as long as you have enough supplies but if you don’t go back you’ll be missing out on a lot.

There are three control methods: the Gamepad is for the player who wants controls and map all in one place; the Pro controller offers the comfort of a pad and the Wiimote gives you precision control. I favoured the Wiimote because the point-and-click motion was much more intuitive than using the left analogue stick on the Gamepad or Pro controller to direct Pikmin and control a character. Whichever method you choose, the Gamepad is indispensable as your map and information hub. If you can, I recommend playing Pikmin 3 with someone using the Gamepad to act as your navigator and co-strategiser for a surprisingly fun experience. The multiplayer modes of the game are also best enjoyed as couch co-op – having to talk to your partner and work together to treasure hunt is a uniquely enjoyable, truly co-operative experience.

The only downside to Pikmin 3 is its length. I completed the story and collected 80% of everything in just under 15 hours. Sure that is a solid length for a game, especially since it’s so beautifully crafted and the last section of the story is fantastic, well worth the price of admission alone. Still, when you consider how Pikmin 2 was at least 30 hours, I was expecting Pikmin 3 to be a little longer. Pikmin 1 was very short, 2 was quite long, perhaps 3 is just right. The game was so good that I’m clamouring for more in the form of Pikmin 4 or at the very least some DLC. It feels like eating an excellent meal but like some dessert would have been the right thing to finish it off.

There’s no doubt that this is a great game. Of course the key question is whether it’s worth buying a Wii U for – an expensive console which at the moment is floundering for truly rewarding titles. If you love Pikmin you have to play this game, and you’re probably dying to. However, it should not be the only reason you buy the Wii U – think carefully about what else is currently available or maybe wait for more titles. If you own a Wii U already though, you need to add this game to your collection because this is easily the best game currently available for it. Run through grassy paths with a mass of colourful pikmin following you and some others bringing up the rear carrying big pieces of watermelon and the body of a giant mud crab, hear the pikmin cheerfully singing the theme song in unison, and you’ll understand.






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