Something struck gamers when the original Pikmin debuted on the Nintendo Gamecube back in 2001. It’s sweet, enjoyable experience that brought something a little different from what the Market offering. The level of attachment you grow to these cute, miniature and odd creatures is unlike anything else as the immense amount of disappointment you feel when you fail to successfully protect those who will do anything for you. Pikmin 3 does nothing to stray from its predecessors and will please the fans of the older games while will certainly bring a smile to the new comers as well.
The story sets up the gameplay as you control a Koppai, named Alph who crash landed on a planet after being sent out into space last ditch effort to save their home in search of fruit. How an entire planet consumes so much fruit that there isn't any left is beyond me….but hey, who am I to say. The fruit also is needed for consumption in order to progress through the story or else you’ll end up with a big fat game over.
Alph is also accompanied by two other but they have been scattered due to the crash. Once you find your crew you’ll be able to search more effectively as you can split up your members and take control. This helps making the most out of your 15 minute days. Although the concept is nice and promotes a level of strategy, it just never worked out that well for me as I just ended up with everyone sticking together. Later on in the game I made a conscious effort to split up the squad, but you will just naturally lose track and become worried of possible attacks that you can't see.
There are some instances where you need to split up due to some environmental puzzles crafted from lovely level design. While exploring the early levels you’ll noticed that you can’t quite do a certain puzzle because it might take 2 or 3 members so going back and exploring earlier stages is something to look forward to.
Now shame on me for taking this long to discuss the main attraction of the game, and those are the cute little creatures that inhabit this earth like planet—the Pikmin. Your survival would be minimal if it weren't for these extra-terrestrial’s. They put their very existence on the line for yours by ganging up and taking down foes, gathering fruit, or building bridges and tearing down any obstacle that stands in your way.
Failure to protect them often results in sadness so you strive to take care of the ones that do all they can for you. As the day ends stranded Pikmin are vulnerable to nocturnal predators and will be faced with a horrific death. Keeping them close with assure them of safety so don’t forget the stranded Pikmin!
You have your basic Red, Yellow and Blue Pikmin as well as 2 new additions, Rock and Fairy Pikmin. Red can handle fire and are better fighters, Yellow can conduct electricity and excel at digging, Blue can breathe under water and save drowning Pikmin, Rock can destroy crystal/glass objects and are impenetrable against some attacks, and the Fairy Pikmin can fly making them free from the hazards below.
The overall designs of the Pikmin are nicely balanced as you will always feel the need to equally carry around all the types. The different types of species of course have their strengths but also have weaknesses too. Strategizing is important especially when facing the stage boss or some of the sub bosses that roam around.
It sounds like nothing but praise for Pikmin 3 but there were some issues I had. The controls were awkward at times. Aiming was difficult as it was responsible for moving around and lining up your throw, locking on was unreliable at times...found myself dismissing my party on occasion; and as I mentioned before, splitting up your squad never worked out as well as it should have. Also, more types of new Pikmin species would have been nice. Two just doesn't seem to cut it.
And finally, the lack of online MP hurts the games replay value. The competitive MP feature is fun as you go up against a buddy in a game of Bingo, or help either other by taking on missions (collecting fruit or beating bosses). Unfortunately, I don't always have somebody to play with so that is where an online option would have been great. It's a shame Nintendo is lagging so far behind in this department.
Anyway, with that said, Pikmin 3 was still an enjoyable game from start to finish and was filled with nostalgia of the previous installments. The adorable Pikmin, wonderful crafted world with lush, vibrant greenery, that makes exploring, strategizing and problem solving much more engaging. Pikmin remains one of those unique experiences that are unlike most. If you can make me scour the level for strayed Pikmin and injecting a miniature panic attack…you’re doing something right.