Captain Olimar isn’t a household name. The vast majority of my acquaintances who I played Super Smash Bros. Brawl with in my early college years knew that he was from Pikmin, but that was it. Even my good friend who uses Olimar as his main squeeze in the fighter has never played the GameCube strategy games. I really can’t knock the good Hocotatian captain for his obscurity, though. Pikmin isn’t nearly as marketable as something like Super Mario or the Legend of Zelda– but it should be.
Anyways, this week, Pikmin 3 released for Wii U in North America (finally!). It’s been nine long years since we last saw the lovable plant helpers in a game of their own. It’s kind of a big deal for Pikmin fans, Nintendo fans, and Wii U owners– but does anyone else care? The stores I went to on August 4 indicated a very small launch with little fanfare. GameStop even told me they were only getting about 8 copies of the game. Is this Nintendo’s doing? Back in June, you could definitely tell that something like Animal Crossing: New Leaf was a hot launch. It doesn’t seem that way with Pikmin 3.
However, I’m not worried about it. The Pikmin games were never huge hits; in fact, the original release of Pikmin 2 for GameCube has become somewhat of a valuable item due to its relatively small print run. What worries me is that I think that Pikmin deserves more than this, and Nintendo seems to think so too in some respects. But truth be told, Pikmin 3 isn’t going to sell very many Wii U consoles.
Nintendo had enough confidence in this new game to have it introduce their 2012 E3 conference, where it shined the brightest out of all the Wii U launch window games. But the months passed, and delays took their toll on most of those games. In some ways, Pikmin 3 represents the difficult Wii U launch, being the first truly big first party title in 9 months. It saddens me to see that spark flare up so late. If only Pikmin 3 had launched back in April or May. Would we still feel the same about Wii U?
I’ve almost beaten Pikmin 3 myself; I’m stuck on the final area at the time of this writing. I can say with complete confidence that this is the best Wii U game yet. It might even be the best Nintendo game of 2013, if that honor doesn’t end up going to something that’s surprisingly good later this year.
Pikmin 3 really shows a side of Nintendo that we don’t get to see that much– it’s subtle, it’s clever, and it’s immediately gripping. A game like this has all the production value of a AAA Nintendo title without all of the flashy names. It’s refreshing to play something made by those developers that doesn’t involve a certain mustached man or his buddies. But what makes Pikmin so much different from the other Nintendo heavy hitters is exactly what keeps it from making it big.
I’m so glad that Nintendo put its weight behind Pikmin 3, but it breaks my heart to know that the game probably won’t get the recognition it really deserves. It’s great for current Wii U owners, but I doubt anyone is going to rush out to buy the console now. But games like Pikmin 3 should be why people want Wii U. It’s an amazing game that’s unlike anything else out there, and it’s only on Wii U with all of the unique features the console has to offer. At closer look, this really should be the landmark title of this new console. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until December when Mario comes to start seeing the bigger numbers.
I’m not suggesting that Pikmin should expand and become a huge series. It should remain as a quiet franchise that shows there’s still unique and interesting games out there. It’s just a shame that series like those aren’t the most well-known. So it shall continue– true space explorers like us will know and respect the good name of Olimar and his friends. I suppose that’s not too bad. Anyways, go play Pikmin 3, it’s great.