Recently, Nintendo games have been fairly concerning, especially those on the Wii U. No longer are the franchises we once knew and loved: Metroid has no Samus, Star Fox has terrible controls, Paper Mario has no story, Smash doesn’t have the same controls that it used to, and Captain Falcon is dead in more ways than one. However, all is certainly not lost. A mere three years ago for the Wii U was a game that was great, and I feel was overshadowed if not totally ignored by the gaming community. Pikmin 3 shows that Nintendo still has some ideas as to what makes games great.
I know, I know, “What da heck is a pick-man?” Shut up, it’s not called that and Pokemon aren’t called pokey-man, Bill Cosby. Pikmin are your best friends on the planet you’ve crash landed on. Based after carrots, pikmin are little alien lifeforms with special abilities that can’t do much on their own, but become quite strong in large numbers with their impressive leader, You. As you try to find a way to get off the planet filled with creatures far larger than yourself, you are forced to rely on and grow an impressive army of pikmin before you run out of food and resources.
This game focuses on the idea of food, as your goal is to collect all the fruit in each area as fast as you can while rescuing previous protagonists, Olimar and Louie. The more food you have, the longer you can search for Olimar and get off the planet without dying of starvation. This food is hidden in impressive locations most of the time, forcing you to think critically on how to best use your pikmin and entices you to explore the landscape.
You take down obstacles by quite literally throwing pikmin and your 2 astronaut teammates in your path using the touch screen to aim and fire. Throwing pikmin might sound abusive, yet it’s the same as when you move your dog with your foot to go in the right direction; it might look like kicking, but, frankly, nobody’s calling animal control. By pressing the minus button you can switch the main display to be on the television or just your gamepad. If you want to experience the amazing graphics, the television option is what you want, yet for the best controls it’s important to see exactly where you’re touching. In summary: controls=gamepad while graphics=television.
The interesting parts of the games design show themselves when you begin to realize two things: a) the planet isn’t big, you’re just small and b) this planet just might be Earth. This is not directly addressed up front and in-game, but you begin to notice how leaves are twice the size of your body, insects are gigantic monsters, and there are quite literal paper bags lying about blocking your paths. An entire level has wires and lightbulbs installed in its many caves. You begin to think just like the characters: just what is this planet?
The replay value of this game is high, as there is an online ranking system where you can compare the days it took to clear the game and gather all of the fruit. The first time playing it might take many hours, but you get substantially better with each play-through, learning how to manage your time, leaders, and pikmin efficiently. You will most likely never get a game over, as the 30-day time limit has been replaced with the “up to 100 day time limit,” removing some of the challenge, yet exploring and getting rid of obstacles proves to be too fun to care.
Ignoring the pointless bingo multiplayer minigame, Pikmin 3 is a modern gem that takes aspects of the other pikmin games and brings them forth into the current generation. True, it needs work, but it’s more important to count what Nintendo is doing right recently on the Wii U than what it isn’t (which is quite a lot, by the way). Pikmin 3 gives me, and should certainly give you, some hope for the future of Nintendo.