It’s been quite a while since the Pikmin franchise has seen a new release, but in that time nothing’s come along to dethrone this quirky melding of real-time strategy and action adventure. The anticipation for the return of this unique title was high back at the Wii U’s launch when it was supposed to surface but we had to wait a little longer. Now finally the third title has hit Nintendo’s latest console, and it’s transition to HD is marvelous and well worth the wait.
Pikmin 3 puts you in control of a crew of three explorers. Having left their home planet to find a world rich in food, your ship crash lands on the mysterious Pikmin planet, compromising your ship and separating your crew mates. It’s up to you to bring the trio back together, find the missing parts of your ship, and gather as much food as possible to take home, aided by the titular ant-like creatures.
Gradually Pikmin 3 teaches you the skills you need to survive and explore this alien world, introducing you to the Pikmin and their skills relevant to their colour. The red Pikmin for example are resilient to fire and strong at attacking enemies, meanwhile the yellow Pikmin have an electrical charge that can be used to complete circuits to solve puzzles. New Pikmin, such as the rock Pikmin, have a hard shell and can smash through crystals and resist being squashed, whilst the winged Pikmin and fly objects over obstacles. As you progress more of these Pikmin will reveal themselves to you, and figuring out their strengths and abilities allows you to solve more environmental puzzles.
Indeed, in Pikmin 3 it’s not just about finding and carrying your ship’s parts back to your landing site, plenty of environmental puzzles are in your way. Bridges need rebuilding, barriers needs destroying and creatures need slaying. Fortunately your Pikmin are here to help you. However, there’s an extra challenge on top of the puzzles and combat. Each day you’re stranded on the planet you need to drink fruit juice to survive, so finding and carrying to your ship different fruit is an essential part of your exploration. additionally each day only last around 15 minutes, and once the sun sets it’s too dangerous to remain on the planet’s surface. You and your Pikmin need to get back to your ship and the Pikmin’s nest so to fly into orbit, any Pikmin left behind become meals for the creatures that come out at night. You need to plan your day’s activities and choose the right Pikmin to bring with you to achieve your daily goals. Mismanaging you time can mean having to abandon a boss encounter in the middle of the fight, or losing dozens of Pikmin that were carrying objects when the counter hits zero.
It can lead to some intense situations but restoring your Pikmin’s numbers isn’t a difficult task, just a time consuming one. Throwing your Pikmin at flowers then carrying them back to your landing site plants new Pikmin for you to recruit, so too do the corpses of any creature you fell. Figuring out what to do on each day and then managing your Pikmin effectively is a challenging and engaging task, and the choice to approach each day however you like provides a great sense of freedom, however the overall challenge is more of an internal one, relating to how many Pikmin you’re willing to lose. Of course hearing the screams of the dying and watching their spirits float away is more torturous than you may realise, and frequently I found myself restarting a day rather than accepting the loss.
This was especially so when encountering a boss. Defeating these towering and vicious creatures are a puzzle in themselves, as you search for weaknesses and throw your Pikmin at them to diminish their health. Their attacks can destroy dozens of Pikmin in seconds and they tend to switch strategies on you mid-fight to keep you on your toes. They’re terrific, intense and highly satisfying obstacles to clear. They’re also a challenge that better suits the Wii Remote and Nunchuck better than the Wii U Gamepad. The Gampad’s touch screen is brilliant for displaying and searching the map as well as sending one of your crew with a troop of Pikmin to travel elsewhere whilst you control another crew member directly, but it restricts aiming your reticule. Fortunately you can switch control methods seamlessly, leaving the Gamepad by your side for when you need it’s functionality and using the Remote and Nunchuck to gain absolute control over the reticule and your character.
After eight to ten hours your mission will be complete but you’re likely to want to spend plenty more time in this wonderful world. Fortunately you can take your Pikmin back to previous levels to hunt for fruit and secrets that you missed or previously couldn’t get to. Additionally you can take on the Challenge Missions which task you with defeating bosses or solving puzzles within a time limit in new areas, with only the Pikmin scattered across the map at your disposal. Better still you can tackle the missions cooperatively with a friend or take friends on competitively with the Bingo mode where you need to collect four objects to complete a bingo card before your opponent does. Taking on the missions solo is a enjoyable trial but bringing a friend along certainly enhances the fun, and the competitive mode is surprisingly compelling.
Pikmin 3 is yet another hit for the series and its new HD visuals look absolutely stunning. It adds enough new features to keep veteran Pikmin strategists on their toes and maintains all the charm and accessibility of its predecessors to bring new comers into the fold. There simply isn’t anything else quite like the Pikmin titles and if you’ve got a Wii U this is unquestionably the must have title for the console.
MLG Rating: 9/10 Format: Wii U Release Date: 13/07/2013
Disclosure: Midlifegamer were provided a copy of Pikmin 3 for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 2 weeks on a Wii U. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.