Review: Pikmin 3

Nintendo brings the Pikmin franchise to new heights.

By Dustin Grissom. Posted 08/26/2013 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Beautiful worlds; fantastic presentation; engaging character dialogue; near perfect level design; great boss battles; addicting multiplayer
Poison Mushroom for...
Polarizing final stage; no online multiplayer

Nintendo games have something that other game developers just cannot seem to replicate. When playing a Nintendo game, such as Pikmin 3, it’s hard to wrap your finger around what exactly it is, or how the company made it that way, but it’s there. What is it? Magic, secret sauce, whatever you want to call it– that feeling of pure fun and excitement in your belly. Nintendo knows how to make it, and with Pikmin 3, the wonder, excitement, fun, uniqueness, and a variety of other adjectives come together in full force to make a truly magical experience that you can only find on a Nintendo system.

Pikmin 3 gives you a new perspective on the familiar environments of the two previous games. Yes, leaves and flowers still tower over you, but this new perspective is provided by the game’s three new heroes and their adventure on the planet “PNF-404.” I was always very immersed with the Pikmin series’ stories, world, and characters, but Pikmin 3 brings it all to a whole new level, for both the series and Nintendo. You control three characters from the planet Koppai, which has a serious overpopulation and over consumption problem, leading the charming trio of Alph, Brittany, and Charlie on a quest to a distant world to find dozens of fruit types, bringing the seeds back to Koppai to save their planet.

Pikmin 3 is a great showcase for what Nintendo is capable of in the realm of HD gaming. And no, it isn’t just the beautiful graphics– I’ll get to those in a minute. The presentation, from the cutscenes, the engaging banter between the three characters, the cinematic camera angles and bosses, and the beautifully intricate end-of-day segments all work together to make you realize that better graphics aren’t the only thing that comes with an HD Nintendo system, but a more polished, better game experience as well. Of course, this is all on top of the near, dare I say, photo-realistic graphics the game possess. Sure, there are some bad textures and geometry here and there, but the beautiful environments that are wonderfully affected by the weather, the detailed creature design, and the great use of depth-of-field really create a gorgeous experience. In fact, the game looks so good that Nintendo created a camera feature that lets you take pictures of the environment and creatures from the perspective of one of the playable characters. This will surely unlock the inner photographer in you, as well as have you waste away hours in Miiverse looking at beautifully composed photos taken by players from around the world.

You’ll develop an usual connection with your Pikmin!

The gameplay and the overall goal is similar to the two previous Pikmin games, but instead of ship parts and random treasure, you are collecting fruit on a daily basis. However, there is a catch, and a brilliant one at that. Pikmin 3 mends the freedom of Pikmin 2, but keeps the desperate, survival aspects of the original Pikmin. After every day, your squad must consume one bottle of fruit juice squeezed from a fruit you bring back to the ship. If you don’t keep an ample supply of juice, your trusty trio will starve, and you will have failed Koppai! It is a fantastic idea, but it is much too easy to stock up on dozens of bottles of fruit juice, making the tension much lighter than it could have been, only having a few days where the game really puts you on your toes. The game certainly could have benefited from a more difficult mode after you finish the main game, especially considering that some collected fruit can fill up to three bottles.

However, this doesn’t imply that the entire game is particularly easy. The game is littered with puzzles that make use of each type of Pikmin, and sometimes all three squad members, which will cause you to sit back and think for a bit. The enemies in the game can be a threat as well, as they possess different qualities about them that require different strategies and different types of Pikmin to take down, including the new rock and flying varieties. Another aspect of the game that’ll challenge the player are the boss battles. Pikmin 3 has finally gotten boss battles right in the Pikmin franchise. They’re huge, they’re cinematic, they’re challenging, and they all have their own unique strategies that require much more than just mindlessly throwing Pikmin and dodging attacks. The bosses are definitely a highlight in this game.

Efficiency can be greatly improved with the great use of the GamePad, allowing you to command all three captains at once simply with a touch of the controller, as well as scanning areas with an overhead view to plan your day out. However, it is worth noting that the Wii Remote is absolutely the best way to play the game, and even though the GamePad allows off-TV play, it is better suited to be on your lap while using the Wii Remote and Nunchuck during gameplay.

You’ll have to work together to get through the game’s many challenges!

The game is split up into four big, explorable areas in which to gather fruit, and one last area used as sort of a set piece. The first four areas are perfectly laid out, allowing for a great mix of exploration and efficiency throughout each day. These are the areas you’ll be spending the bulk of your time in, but the final area mixes up the formula quite a bit. You’ll be forced to sharpen your Pikmin skills and work under a huge amount of pressure, which is something you’ll either enjoy as a challenging change of pace or will perhaps push you away. Regardless, the game is near perfectly designed and will have you eager to play more once the credits roll.

And once they do, your time with Pikmin 3 is not over. Nintendo is trying to entice players to go back and replay days, a feature introduced in New Play Control! Pikmin for Wii, in order to save Koppai in a more efficient manner. This is something I never wanted to do, yet I can see the appeal for some. Where the real bulk of the post-game content comes from is the multiplayer. Bingo Battle and Mission Mode are wonderful additions to the Pikmin formula, the former being a one-on-one multiplayer mode where each player must complete a Bingo card using fruit and enemies as pieces, and the latter being a large set of cooperative missions and challenges. These modes, as well as the story mode, include the use of online leaderboards to compare your scores and times with players around the world, which is a very welcome addition. These extra features are a great way to extend your Pikmin experience, which you undoubtedly will want to do.

Pikmin 3 might not be the game that gets people rushing to buy a Wii U, but it certainly should be. The title, although with a few flaws, is simply another Nintendo masterpiece. This is finally the game that provides insight into what Nintendo is capable of with an HD console, and the future looks bright. Pikmin 3 is still a game like no other, and the many improvements over the previous two versions solidify it as one of Nintendo’s absolute best franchises, with the third and best installment being a game no one should miss out on. You’ll be left desperately hoping it is not another nine year wait until we get the next installment in the series.

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