Pikmin is a Nintendo franchise that has exploded in popularity, like many Nintendo franchises have done in the past. Pikmin is an unusual game where players spend their time lobbing small, colorful alien-like beings at enemies, treasures, fruit, and other items. Many veteran Nintendo fans are already familiar with the cute little Pikmin, but there are other gamers who became fans of Nintendo during the Wii’s console cycle and may be new to the series. Pikmin 3, which was originally slated to release on the Wii, is finally here after years of development and is the defining Pikmin experience. Pikmin 3 follows Alph, Brittany, and Charlie as they try to find food and return to their home planet, Koppai. Longtime fans of the series and newcomers alike will have a blast playing Pikmin 3 on the Wii U.
Pikmin 3 is stunning in almost every aspect, but the graphical splendor that splashed across my television screen after popping in the game is astonishing. Pikmin 3 has some of the best graphics out of the current library of Wii U games. The fruit, flames, vegetation and other items in Pikmin 3 look almost life-like, and the game is a great visual representation of the Wii U’s graphical capabilities. The sound design in the game is also very nice and players will find classic Pikmin tunes as well as new, pleasant surprises (try running through a patch of tall, slender, red mushrooms). Pikmin from the first two games in the series make a return in Pikmin 3 and are now joined by two new types, pink and rock Pikmin. Pink Pikmin can fly, which allows them to carry objects over water, ledges, and hills. Pink Pikmin also help out by lifting barriers to grant access to new areas in the environment. Rock Pikmin can smash hard objects that other Pikmin cannot break through. Both of the new Pikmin are just as adorable and useful as their friends but also add an interesting twist to the game. Players will also take command of three main characters, Alph, Brittany, and Charlie, to solve puzzles throughout the game that can only be surmounted by using two or more of the characters. They can also be used to split up tasks so that players can make more efficient use of their daylight.
New Play Control! Pikmin 1 and 2, which were both released on the Wii, familiarized players with the Wii Remote & Nunchuk control scheme, and this setup is still available in Pikmin 3. When using the Wii Remote & Nunchuk, the GamePad or KopPad, as it’s called Pikmin 3, acts primarily as an interactive map but players can also find gameplay instructions/hints, information/status on Pikmin in the field, fruit information, and even a camera. Each of the features available on the GamePad functions very well and provides extremely useful gameplay information. The map, information about available Pikmin, and camera seemed to be the most useful features of the bunch. The detailed, interactive map is by far the most informative feature and allows players to pan around the environment and scope out their surroundings. One of the more interesting additions to Pikmin 3 is the GamePad’s camera function and affords players the opportunity to finally feel like they are in fact surrounded by Pikmin. When using the GamePad as the camera; players will hold the GamePad in front of them, use the GamePad’s motion controls look around the environment in first person perspective, and snap photos of the game world around them. These pictures can then be captioned and sent to Miiverse for the whole world to see. The GamePad can be used by itself instead of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controller configuration, but the controls are a little more complex and take some practice to master. Pikmin 3 can also be played entirely on the Wii U GamePad using the off-TV play feature, and the Wii U Pro controller, which has the same control structure as the GamePad, is supported as well.
The multiplayer options found in Pikmin 3 are limited to local, co-op play but actually offer a very expansive experience. There are two different modes, Mission and Bingo Battle. Mission mode is a cooperative experience that can be played by oneself or multiplayer with one additional player. In Mission mode players can work together collecting fruit, defeating enemies, or battling bosses. Each of the three events has several levels that are unlocked by obtaining medals from the preceding level. Bingo Battle is a competitive multiplayer experience where players will scramble to find the items on their Bingo cards before their opponent. In Bingo Battle there are different stages to choose from and even if players choose the same stage, they will start with different Pikmin and run into different enemies or obstacles. The multiplayer modes are a lot of fun and contain plenty of content to keep a couple friends busy for quite some time but co-op multiplayer during the Story mode would have been a favorable addition to an already great game.
Despite the feeling that Nintendo missed the opportunity to create a fantastic two player story driven experience in Pikmin 3, there is nothing I could find in in the game that I did not thoroughly enjoy. After so many years in development, Pikmin 3 exhibits the hard work that Nintendo has put into the game. Pikmin 3 is full of surprises, and everything from the Pikmin themselves to the frantic nature of the co-op multiplayer is just pure, unadulterated fun. Pikmin 3 is overall an outstanding game, and players young and old will find themselves lost in a world of Pikmin for hours.
See this Pikmin 3 review, along with other Pure Nintendo reviews in the August/September issue of PNM. During the month of August, Power Up with PNM and grab a FREE 1-year digital subscription to PNM. PNM is your source for exclusive interviews, game previews, concept art, game reviews, puzzles and much more directly from the world of Nintendo, delivered bi-monthly directly to you!