Nintendo kept us waiting for the third instalment of their odd, genre bending adventure-strategy game. Pikmin 3 recently landed on the Wii U around the world, however has the wait been worth it?
The main adventure mode is single player only but there are additional modes that let you play either co-operatively or competitively with a friend.
If you have played either of the first two games you will feel right at home in the adventure mode. Unlike most strategy games you actually control a main character and not a cursor, in this case one of the three captains Alph, Brittany or Charlie. As you explore the unique environment you are given the impression you are a tiny creature in a massive world. The HD graphics and extra horse power of the Wii U really go along way in helping build up the realism in the environments. It’s great to see Nintendo able to flex their graphic muscle in this more realistic manner. The characters and creatures that inhabit the game take a contrasting style to the surroundings in a more Nintendo-like fashion. Despite this difference in styles nothing looks out of place and the unique combination of both make for a memorable visual theme.
You can control Pikmin 3 using one of three different control schemes, however none is perfect. The GamePad has you moving and aiming with both analogue sticks, the advantage here is the touch screen is used to show an interactive map. The Wii Remote and Nunchuck has you aiming your Pikmin with pointer which is very accurate but you will still need to grab the GamePad to use the map. Finally you can use the Pro controller which has the same button layout of the GamePad without the touchscreen.
Shortly after you crash land on planet PNF-404 you meet the Pikmin. These are small, colorful creatures that come in different types. They will follow your captain if you whistle at them, stay put if discarded and most importantly can be thrown. Throwing Pikmin is your main action and throwing them at different things will accomplish different tasks. Throw Pikmin at enemies to take them down, at fruit so they can carry it back to base or even at an earthy bridge to bash it down to clear the path. Success in these tasks will come down to having enough Pikmin and sometimes of the right types, the more you have the faster the task will be completed.
The goal of the adventure mode is to collect as many fruits as possible. In this world fruits are many times the size of the captains so they need the assistants of the Pikmin, the more you have the easier it is to drag fruit back to your ship. Fruit is squeezed and turned into juice at the end of each day. You need a pot of juice each night to survive, so as long as you keep hold of a single pot you can adventure on for another day. With the amount of fruit scattered around the planet you shouldn’t have to worry too much about going hungry.
Each day on the planet PNF-404 you will find a healthy balance of enemies to fight, puzzles to solve and secrets to find. The trick is to focus on one or a few specific tasks as your time you can spend on the planet each day is limited. You can even split up your party, assigning specific routes for your captains using the Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen. Enemies come in a variety of different designs and sizes, each having a specific way to be bested. Larger foes can be like puzzles themselves, with a wrong strategy could see you losing a significant portion of your Pikmin army. The bosses take this a step even further. Each is unique and never repeated. Boss battles can be stressful as it is all too easy to loss Pikmin while trying to figure out its weakness. It can even take several in-game days. In the end though these fights always feel satisfying and never cheap.
To relieve your stress from the often dangerous world of PNF-404 you can always take to some photography. One of the new features the GamePad brings is to be able to take in-game photos by holding up the GamePad and moving it around like a camera. This is the first time we get to see the world of the Pikmin from this point of view and the creatures, pikmin and the environment itself all looks very different from this angle. You can even post your snaps straight to Miiverse, of course you may have more fun browsing the most popular snaps already online.
The challenges mode is made of set stages split up into three types. Collecting fruit, fighting enemies and finally a boss attack mode. Stages in the challenge mode are unlocked as you progress through the main game. The stage designs are exclusive to this mode and on the compact variety. To increase reply value there’s local and online scoreboards for each stage.
If you’re bored of co-operation you can go head-to-hard in a Bingo Battle. This mode is local multiplayer only and has a surprising amount of depth. As you begin you are given a bingo card each filled with different objects, fruits and emeries. The goal is to score Bingo by clearing a line horizontally, vertically or diagonally by dragging your items of choice back to your base.
There’s real strategy to be had in Bingo battle, you can choose to focus on growing your Pikmin population before heading out into battle, try and grab your items as soon as possible or even scoop out what your opponent will be after next and block their Bingo buying you more time to finish your own. Although local multiplayer is not as accessible as online multiplayer this mode is well worth the effort of meeting up the old fashion way to duke it out in this strategically addictive multiplayer mash up.
So has the wati been worth it? Your Pikmin 3 adventure will take you between 10-20+ hours, depending on how many fruits you collect, challenges you complete and Bingo-battles you wage. Each mode has allot of content but can be raced through quickly and seems to be built with replay-ability in mind. Overall Pikmin 3 is an evolution of the Pikmin template instead of a revolution, but it’s well rounded resign, charm and unique gameplay still cannot be found elsewhere.