Review: Pikmin 3
Posted 22 Jul 2013 at 17:01 by Ashley Jones
Fans have waited nine years, and two consoles, for another Pikmin title and now finally you can once again command an army of plant-like creatures as you fight fearsome foes in the pursuit of the planet's fruit. Pikmin 3 is a good mix of new and old, with fresh gameplay elements making the third instalment a welcome addition in the franchise.
Pikmin 3 sees a trio of new space explorers shipwrecked on the mysterious home planet (that looks a bit like Earth) of the Pikmin. The game sees you initially take control of Alph, the engingeer of the group, after you have all been seperated. As you play through the game you meet Brittany, the fruit-loving one, and Charlie the captain.
The additional characters aren't just for deocration however, as levels will require you to throw your teammates to unreachable ground, and fling a few Pikmin at them. This rather small addition helps to create new puzzles and challenges so that anyone who has played the previous titles won't become complacent.
You can also split them all up and theorhetically send them on separate missions, although its easier said than done. It is quite useful to be able to have someone back at the base collecting Pikmin that are returning items, or to frantically send them in the search of stray Pikmin as the end-of-day timer ticks away.
Gone are the purple and white Pikmin from Pikmin 2 (although they are in Mission Mode), and instead the trusty red, yellow and blue Pikmin are joint by new grey rock and pink flying Pikmin types. Each type has their own unique ability; red is immune to fire, yellow can conduct electricity, blue can swim, rock makes a better weapon and flying can, rather obviously, fly.
As with the new team members, these new Pikmin provide new challenges. Rock are the only ones that can shatter crystal, which often contains important pickups, while flying ones can reach new areas and fly above bodies of water. Their skills are also needed for particular enemies, encouraging you to always have a certain amount of each type in your party at all times (although the 100 Pikmin max rule still applies).
The Pikmin characters are some of the most endearing that Nintendo has created in recent years. Their designs are relatively simple, but now that you can view them from the explorer's point-of-view, you can see that Nintendo has put in a lot of nice touches to make their personalities pop. Using the camera you can see the Pikmin up close, and it is in doing so I saw them playing, grooming and resting. It's a tiny thing, but a wonderful touch and makes their inevitable demise more poignant.
As soon as you take a photo you are presented with the Miiverse post creation screen, allowing you to add comments or drawings, and share it with the community. The implementation is seamless, although because it automatically does this after every photo you take it can get a bit cumbersome if you just want to take some photos. Regardless, it is a fun little feature. The camera also comes with zoom, flash and the focus point can be selected using the touch screen so you have some power over the image.
Speaking of the Wii U GamePad, while it is utilised in a number of ways you can also play using the Pro Controller or Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuck. When using the GamePad, a map of the area is displayed on the screen, and you can navigate around it using the touch screen while the TV displays a birds-eye view. You can also use this to draw a route for your character and tap 'Go Here', at which point they go into auto-pilot. This can be helpful at times, but be warned that if any enemies are on route it can be deadly. You can stop the auto-pilot by blowing the whistle though, which makes it a handy feature if you want a brief break.
The Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuck combination plays just like it did on the New Play Control Pikmin 2, and seems to be Nintendo's preferred control method. The Pro Controller plays in a similar fashion to the GamePad, only without the touch screen ability. I found myself primarily using the GamePad, simply because I liked being able to utilise the map and 'Go Here' command and switching between two different controllers to do this is fiddly. Although increasingly towards the end I found myself resting the GamePad on my lap and accidentally disbanding all my Pikmin.
In addition to the Story mode, players can play through Mission Mode and Battle Bingo either alone or with a friend. The Mission Mode is split into three sections; collect items, defeat enemies or boss battles. The first sets a monetary value to reach, with each item worth varying amounts, while the second is pretty much the same except each defeated creature is worth points. Finally, you can take on the bosses again if you want to put yourself (and your Pikmin) through that trauma again.
While off-screen play is also available in the Story mode by pressing the '-' button at any point during gameplay, when playing with a friend the TV screen is split in two. Perhaps Nintendo had a good reason why you couldn't use the GamePad screen instead of going the split-screen route, but it is a disappointing omission nonetheless.
Pikmin 3 is representative of Nintendo's current position as a company that has recently entered the HD sphere. Nintendo has admitted that there has been problems adapting, and in some ways this shows. Pikmin 3 is a beautiful title, there is no doubt about that, but if you look beneath the surface you can see corners that have been cut.
The ground textures have been discussed ad nauseum in our forum, but aside from the surface details other cut corners can be found. For example, the Pikmin drop off a high surface carrying an item, but there is no sense of impact when they land on the ground. It's not a big issue, obviously, but it would have been nice to see some more realistic physics in the game. These are issues not raised to criticise Nintendo or the title however, but rather to highlight that we are still at the start of the Wii U and in some ways it shows. If Nintendo can create a title such as Pikmin 3 now (even if it did start a few years ago on the Wii), we look forward to seeing what they release in 2017 (maybe Zelda will be out by then).
Overall Pikmin 3 is quite an achievement so early within the console's life. The charm and challenge of the previous titles remains, with the added elements provide new challenges for even the most experienced players. The Pikmin franchise has always mixed elements of the strategy, puzzle and adventure titles quite well and continues to do so with great effect in Pikmin 3.
If you enjoyed the previous titles, you'll certainly enjoy Pikmin 3. The previous titles are alluded to, but new players can pick up the story quite easily. The controls feel natural, which is helpful in times of crisis, and the Pikmin remain as endearing as ever. Pikmin 3 is a strong title that will keep you occupied for between 6-20 hours, depending on if you want to collect everything and how good you are. This is a title the Wii U has been asking for and we're grateful that it is finally here.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Pikmin 3 is exactly the kind of title Wii U needs right now; it is a solid meaty title that offers a visual spectacle. Fans of the franchise would be foolish to miss out and newcomers need not feel that they won't follow along.
Plenty of new additions since Pikmin 2
New gameplay elements
Enjoyable multiplayer modes
Seamless Miiverse integration
Some texture issues
Minor physics issues