The Pikmin series is one of the newer Nintendo IPs that originated on the Nintendo Gamecube and was later ported to the original Wii. The original concept for the Pikmin games focused on exploration of an unknown planet with the help of tiny alien creatures called Pikmin. These cute little wonders were small in size and weak in power, but as strong in numbers and courageous at heart. And while both games on the Gamecube were great titles for the console’s library, the little Pikmin have not been seen in a new adventure for quite a long time. That is until now. These charming little aliens have their time in the spotlight and bring a better quality gaming experience to Wii U owners.
The story of Pikmin 3 centers around 3 astronauts who looking to save their home planet Koppai from dying due to poor resource management. Alph, Brittany, and Charlie fly out into space in search of a planet they can generate food resources to save their dying planet, yet crash land on the planet when they arrive. The planet, PNF-404, is populated by tiny creatures known as Pikmin who help aid the young astronauts in their mission to not only save their planet, but make it home alive as well. The overall plot of the game is fairly simple with a few twists and turns, but never becomes too complex or convoluted to be a detriment to the experience. There are numerous references to the previous two Pikmin titles, some of which directly impact the overall story, but the game does a great job of getting players up to speed as you play through.
Gameplay is the meat of the entire game. Very similar to past Pikmin titles, players will have control of a small army of Pikmin that vary in color and abilities. The one major twist this time around is that control is given over all three main characters Alph, Brittany, and Charlie; where control can easily switch between them at any time. This is important in many parts of the game where certain obstacles, and even enemies, require you to split up the group and work together to accomplish a goal. While the puzzles can be elaborate at times, they don’t become overbearingly difficult or frustrating as the game does provide many hints and tips to help players advance through areas. Some spots will require a certain colored group of Pikmin to either break down an obstacle or find something important, encouraging players to manage the selection of Pikmin in their group.
One of the very unique aspects about Pikmin 3 is the control options available. Unlike many other Wii U titles, Pikmin 3 offers up to 3 different ways to play through the game. This includes the ability to use the Wii U gamepad, the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, and even the Wii U Pro Controller. Each style of control is smooth and works well when playing through the game, with little to no hiccups whatsoever. Deciding what control scheme is best can be a little tough however, as each one varies greatly and will feel different for anyone who plays the game. The ideal way is to use the Wii U gamepad since it shows the map and cutscenes on the tablet screen and can be used very similarly to the Pro Controller. Yet none of this is lost by utilizing any of the other control schemes as the gamepad can still display the same stuff even when not being used as a controller.
Pikmin 3 is a beautiful looking game on the Wii U. From the environments and enemies that populate them to the astronauts you play as and their minion army of Pikmin, everything in the game is rendered in beautiful detail. The lighting and water effects come together well to make some of the best looking level scenery ever created. There is a whimsical feeling that is given when wandering around the various areas of Pikmin 3. Levels feel alive and ooze out personality with each section on the map.
Multiplayer is a fun distraction outside of the main game. Players compete in a split screen competition called Bingo Battle. The object of the game is for each player to complete a bingo line on bingo card before the opponent. Players start out with a set number of Pikmin and work to accomplish different tasks in order to complete their card. Various power-ups help out or hinder when completing Pikmin, making for some fun and interesting games between players. While the game mode is fun for a short time, it can easily be glanced over and forgotten in favor of the main single player story. This is significant mainly due to the lack of online play for Bingo Battle. Had online play been implemented for Pikmin 3, Bingo Battle would have been a more significant part of the entire package, as the overall concept of the multiplayer is ideal for a game like this online.
Pikmin 3 is a special kind of game for the Wii U, one that is a great addition to anyone’s gaming library. Below a very light hearted and cartoony stylized impression lies a fun and charming game that many will love to play through. Wii U owners will find a game that not only utilizes many of the options the Wii U has to offer, but also an experience that gives a glimpse at the potential the Wii U can achieve. Even if you have never played a Pikmin game before, you will find plenty to love and appreciate here.
This review was based on a retail copy of Pikmin 3 for the Nintendo Wii U.