GET YOUR GAME ON: ‘Pikmin’ back on Wii U and worth the wait

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First Posted: 8/12/2013

So far, there haven’t been too many games in the launch lineup of the Wii U aside from “New Super Mario Bros U.” Nintendo has a long track record of not cooperating with third party developers, but it’s always a big deal when a first party title comes out.

“Pikmin 3” was announced at last year’s E3 and was slated as a launch title for the Wii U with a ton of fanfare, and it’s finally on store shelves eight months after the Wii U release. I think “Pikmin 3” is worth the wait, though: the graphics are absolutely stunning, the music is fun, and the gameplay has been upgraded from the classic “Pikmin” games of the past.

The “Pikmin” series was created by Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario, Donkey Kong, and much more) in 2001 for the Nintendo GameCube, and “Pikmin” was one of the top games for the GameCube console. “Pikmin” is a very different type of game from the average Nintendo series. It isn’t about jumping on platforms or collecting coins. The concept is pretty ingenious; it’s just like looking down and observing what goes on in a microscopic world. “Pikmin” is a top down view strategy game starring a little spaceman named Captain Olimar. The Pikmin creatures themselves are little brightly colored plant-like beings that will follow Olimar’s commands in order to help him collect his missing spaceship parts.

The core of the new game is very familiar to previous titles, with a few new upgrades to the formula. The Pikmin can be directed to destroy obstacles, defeat enemies, and retrieve objects. There are several different types of Pikmin, all with different abilities. Red can resist fire, yellow can fly higher and use bomb rocks, and blue can swim.

“Pikmin 3” introduces a few new kinds of Pikmin. There is a new flying type that be thrown over hazards and a new rock type that can be used to break glass and other obstacles. The relationship you have with your little Pikmin friends is what the game is all about; you can’t just carelessly throw them at enemies or put them into danger because they will die. You need your brightly colored friends to collect food and other supplies. If you run out of food, you won’t survive the next day, which is why planning out your strategies and using your resources correctly is very important. “Pikmin 3” is much more generous with the resources and timers than previous entries, making it a bit easier in some ways. In other ways, it is more challenging.

The biggest change to be seen in this game is the introduction of some new characters, named Alph, Brittany, and Charlie. That means instead of having to play the game with one general, now there are three. It does make the game more complicated, but the new additions to the gameplay make the series feel very different and more exciting. You now have to split your resources up with the other two people in the team and they get to explore different sections of the much-expanded map. Using the Wii U touchpad, you can control all of your different generals at the same time, adding a different level of complexity to the gameplay. Another fun thing you can do is throw your friends across gaps to reach areas that you couldn’t explore before. The best part about having more generals is that you can accomplish more tasks during each day of your mission.

In addition to the main game, there are also many mission modes that can be played split-screen co-op with a friend. Most of these missions are about collecting a certain amount of items within a set time period or competing against your friends to see who can collect the most amount of fruit. These multiplayer modes are fun, but the single player game is where it’s at for me.

The only real complaint I have is when playing with the Wii U gamepad, the touch controls where not as receptive as I would have liked them to be, but this wasn’t a game breaker for me because I liked the way you could use the mini maps. You are going to want to play this game with the Wii Remote if you want to have better controls.

Overall, “Pikmin 3” holds its own in the classic series, adding some little modifications. The controls are finicky, but charming visuals and accessible gameplay make up for any of the technical flaws. Let’s hope the success of “Pikmin 3” starts to turn around the slump Nintendo has had putting out quality game titles so far this year.

-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]