Pikmin has been one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises since it first debuted on the GameCube. It’s been nine years since the last Pikmin, Pikmin 2 on the Gamecube, so it was shame to find out that Pikmin 3 was delayed many months than was previously expected as it would have been a prime candidate for a day one buy for me. There’s just something so appealing about unleashing a bloodthirsty pack of ferociously cute Pikmin upon your enemies. I’m a fan of RTS games so I wanted to see how this new iteration of Pikmin played on the Wii-U.
Olimar has taken a break and been replaced by three new characters: Alph, Brittany (a girl, previously unheard of in the franchise), and Charlie. All characters are controlled simultaneously. The basic premise of Pikmin 3 is to command various Pikmin to do your bidding. Pikmin come in a few different varieties; some are red, some are yellow, and some are blue. Their colors determine their properties. For instance, red Pikmin are more powerful than the other two types, and yellow Pikmin can be thrown higher. The new rock Pikmin are useful for breaking rock formations containing items, and deal more damage when they are thrown at enemies. Flying Pink Pikmin known officially as Winged Pikmin are useful for carrying items over otherwise impassable terrain such as rivers. Pikmin are used to gather spaceship parts, fruits, and bodies of defeated enemies that are all taken back to your ship for points. When Pikmin carry items to the ship they don’t return on their own, but thankfully there are shortcuts such as a vine formations that serve as a slide which immediately takes you to your ship without having to backtrack.
Pikmin are controlled in an RTS manner by selecting small to large groups of them, depending on how long you hold the button, and using them to destroy walls and enemies. Something new to Pikmin is that rather than just throwing Pikmin willy-nilly at objects and enemies, players actually have to analyze the subject as it may have certain structural features that makes them easier to take down. Walls attacked from the top and broken on the way down are more quickly destroyed, and enemies may behave differently if attacked in sensitive areas such as the eyes. Objects require a certain amount of Pikmin to be thrown at it in order for the object to be picked up and taken to the ship. When more than the necessary amount of Pikmin are ordered on an object, they’ll naturally do the job faster. While I played using the Wiimote, the Wii-U touchscreen has been shown to provide a map to the player revealing nearby objectives and displaying your character and attached Pikmin. With the Wiimote, I had to aim at any objects or entities I wanted to interact with, such as hovering the target circle over a group of Pikmin to whistle them over.
There is something rather charming about Pikmin. The art style is cute and colorful and the Pikmin sort of grew on me that I didn’t want them to die. Pikmin 3 is simple, yet strategic. There are certain times when you are surrounded by enemies that you may be inclined to just launch all available Pikmin at once. While that works, it’s not the most effective way. Switching on the fly between Pikmin and sending certain types to the enemies who are most affected by them is definitely the way to go. The new rock Pikmin and winged Pikmin provide the player with more strategic options when encountering enemies and carrying objects in the midst of battle.
Look forward to playing Pikmin 3 on the Wii U August 4th, 2013.