Pikmin 3 is my first experience of the much-loved series and going in, I had no idea what to expect. I hadnít seen much beyond the box art of the previous games and although everyone told me that I should play them, I never considered them to be essential titles so I let them pass me by.
I was surprised at what Pikmin
is. I didnít expect a streamlined real time strategy game with horrific undertones.
What I did expect, though, was that it would look great. And it does.
is a bright, colourful game that pops from the screen to melt your heart. The Wii U might not be the most powerful console that next-gen has to offer but Nintendo knows how to handle its hardware.
does more than enough to feed your eye with candy. As you and your army of Pikmin explore the planet of PNF-404 your eyes will wander to plants, leaves and flowers blowing gracefully in the breeze while butterflies naturally fly down onto them, or to the rippling living ponds full of dangerous life and secrets.
Thereís also a clever use of lens flare and focus blurring. They're techniques weíve seen time and time again in gaming, but here Nintendo just uses little flashes of it where itís needed. Itís never out of place, and thatís important.
Itís little touches that make this world feel alive. This is despite the very videogame-ish layout to the levels forcing you down paths (paths that can be made shorter if you spend the time breaking down walls). As your Pikmin trail behind, following your every move and attracting attention, you feel as though youíre watching an animated cartoon as opposed to playing a game.
Your mission appears simple at first. The planet of Koppai is running out of resources fast, so three astronauts have been sent to neighbouring planets in order to gather supplies. When they crash-land on the home planet of the Pikmin our three heroes are split up and youíre tasked with reuniting the trio by controlling Pikmin (and their assorted special abilities) via your astronaut avatar.
Or so it seems. You see, Pikmin 3
ís story is actually quite a dark one. The player is left with moral choices to make and, unlike other games, these choices are completely organic. Youíre never really told what to do in Pikmin 3
other than the basics of control and the rules laid out by the game. Each choice you make is one made in reaction to your situation.
The game is broken down into days and your time to complete tasks depletes quickly, leaving you with that ďjust one more dayĒ feeling as dusk hits. PNF-404 isnít only inhabited by Pikmin. There are nasty monsters and wildlife to discover, all of which would love nothing more than to eat you and your hundreds of colourful friends.
Whatís worse is that when the sun sets, the real bastards come out to play, so youíll need to evacuate as soon as possible before you all die a grizzly death. In order to save the Pikmin you must return them to their base before nightfall.
At the end of every day your astronauts must eat to survive, and that will mean gathering and then guzzling down food throughout your explorations. All this leaves you with various different goals to achieve, and ones that canít all be done in a day.
Towards the start of the game I was faced with a tough decision. After defeating a boss I had three things that I could salvage. A mobile phone that I could use to boost a signal in order to help captain Charlie (one of the missing astronauts), a dead foe that I could carry back in order to bring life to more Pikmin, or an over-sized fruit so that the spacemen could survive a few more days on their ship. I had enough Pikmin to hand to deal with only one item.
I would have sat to consider the situation a little longer, but the time bar at the top of the screen was getting smaller and smaller. I took action and returned the phone. Once that was done I looked at the time and tried to work out if I had enough to go back for the fruit. I decided I did. I got lucky, really, as the timer got down to 1 in its countdown from 10 as the last Pikmin arrived in the safe zone.