Letting the Weed Grow –
The original Wii received ports of Pikmin and Pikmin 2 outfitted with new motion play control but completely missed out on a new entry in the series. Thankfully, Nintendo has not forgotten about this beloved quirky franchise by bringing a new sequel to the Wii U. Overall the game is a blast and is a natural progression of the Pikmin franchise but the lack of online co-op just seems like a tremendous missed opportunity.
Unlike the strict time limit that was built around the original game, Pikmin 3 is player friendly as the story provides more incentive in farming these little obedient plant creatures. Instead of building a fortune for Captain Olimar’s greed, Pikmin 3 revolves around a trio new playable astronauts and their quest for their survival and the flourishing of their entire species. These new characters are on the search for fruit, instead of treasure, so they have sustenance to survive and surviving is always more important than treasure hunting.
The Pikmin series is probably one of the least complicated RTS titles around and I mean that in a good way. Unlike the gathering of resources and micromanaging all sorts of factories found in other RTS titles, Pikmin is easy to understand, control, and is very accessible. There are only a handful of environments to explore through the entire campaign but each stage plays out like one giant puzzle and will take several in-game days to fully explore. In-game days are probably around 15-20 minutes of real time and forces the player to multi-task and think ahead in order to get the most work done in the shortest amount of time. It is a balanced risk reward system that always presents a sense of constant accomplishment which makes the game so darn addicting. You will only be mad at yourself when you leave a dozen Pikmin behind as your ship takes off at sunset.
One of the biggest changes in this three-quel is the addition of three playable Captains and two new Pikmin types. The puzzle-like environments are designed around multi-tasking, which is made easier to manage through the Wii U Gamepad controller. Puzzles involve chucking your fellow crew members to a higher ledge or balancing out seesaws with the right amount of weight. Each in-game day always allows the player to push a little bit further into the environment which is very satisfying because you always feel like you have done something productive. Each day concludes with a typing Captain’s log that also provides personality to the mission and each of the playable characters. In other words, Pikmin 3 is charming, memorable, and provides a sense of accomplishment that very few games provide.
Rock Pikmin and Flying type Pikmin have replaced the heavy lifting purple Pikmin and the white poison Pikmin of Pikmin 2. However, these two other types make appearances in the optional Mission mode, objective type gameplay revolving around collecting treasure, killing enemies, or taking down a boss within a short amount of time. But the campaign is well designed around the strengths and weaknesses of each character. In fact, without digging into spoilers, the final stage is unlike anything that has happened in any Pikmin game before and will undoubtedly test the skill of all players. The conclusion is also pleasantly surprising, fulfilling and leave you hoping for a Pikmin 4.
Pikmin 3 can solely be played using the Gamepad controller but the Wii Remote and Nunchuk is definitely the easier and more efficient way to play. My only complaint with the control is the lack of direct control of the Pikmin which was originally mapped to the C-Stick back on the Gamecube. Although the AI is usually smart enough to do what you intend there are times when Pikmin will get needlessly stuck on the environment, get mistakenly left behind, or will walk right into that fire hazard.
For the most part, this sequel puts a checkmark next to the things that sequels require. New playable characters? Check. New types of Pikmin? Check. New levels and storyline? Check. Updated features and new modes? Check. But the biggest download of Pikmin 3 is the obvious lack of co-op and online support. Nintendo still doesn’t believe in online play which is a huge shame because a game like Pikmin 3 screams for this type of connectivity. Building up armies of Pikmin while simultaneously splitting up forces to expand and conquer begs for multiplayer support and could even potentially start to take on more of a MOBA style gameplay. Instead, the developers tried to make Pikmin 3 feel like a single player co-op with the use of the Gamepad but it can still be tedious and time consuming trying to do more than one detailed action at once.
Even though online play is glaringly absent, it is hard to knock Pikmin 3 because it is still addictively entertaining and currently stands as one the best exclusive Wii U titles. If you own a Wii U, you should own Pikmin 3. This is also one of the new Nintendo games to offer DLC available via the Nintendo eShop.
Not As Good As: having co-op online play
Better Than: Pikmin 1 on GC
Also Try: the New Play Control Pikmin games remade on Wii
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com