New Play Control! Pikmin
: Nintendo EAD
: Real Time Strategy
: E (ESRB)
:*March 9, 2009
Somewhere in deep space, a small vessel traverses the nightís sky. In it is a creature of small stature, his name is Captain Olimar. On his way back to his home planet, Hocotate, he passes by a blue planet, where out of nowhere a comet hits his ship and is sent flying to this planet. While crash landing, many parts from his ship separate and are scattered. When he regains consciousness, Capín Olimar sets out to recover his missing parts but needs to do so within 30 days for his life support system will only last that long. How is he going to do this all by his lonesome? The task at hand will require him to carry said parts and they are not on the lighter side. But whatís this? Olimar approached a small roundish object that resembled the onions from where he was from and thus named it an Onion. This Onion, when approached, sprang up and shot a small seed. The seed then sprouted into a small plant like object that swayed back and forth beckoning the captain to pluck it from its roots. With little hesitation, Olimar uproots the plant only to reveal that it was not really a plant but a creature like none he has ever seen. Because of its appearance, Olimar named this creature Pikmin after his favorite pikpik snacks. This Pikmin then follow Olimar where ever he went. Olimar knew that with the Pikminís help things might get easier. But then the Pikmin got excited over a flower that appeared to have a pellet. It attacked the flower and then proceeded to carry the pellet to the Onion that then absorbed the pellet and produced more seeds which matured quite rapidly into more Pikmin. Olimar then thought that with many more Pikmin, he might be able to get his ship ready before his life support system runs out. But will it be enough time?
The world in which the Pikmin live is a lush world filled with many terrains and creatures alike. Looking at the grass, rocks, and water makes it seem that you are looking through a vivid window. Crystal clear water leaves a fresh impression while the air fills the world with primal tranquility. The creatures are a bit on the zany side but that is what has been come to be expected by Nintendo. Bulborbs who are as big as Olimarís ship, Snagrets who are the bird like creatures that burrow deep underground, Mamuta with its ground slamming attacks are but a few of these creatures. It truly is a world of kill or be killed where the Pikmin are driven near extinction but with the help of Olimar, things can be turned around. As the day progresses, the lighting in the game is superb. The shadows give a sense of depth and the setting sun sets a sense of urgency for the night is full of danger.
Given this game, the choice of music is strangely befitting of it. The music in the Forest of Hope is easy and serene. You get a cool and moody tune at the Forest Naval. The Final Trial gives a sense of quiet dread with an ominous aura. While the battles are being played out, you are engaged in them but you never feel that everything is chaotic for the music keeps one calm and collected. An odd combination to be sure but it works, surprisingly well at that. The only times that you actually hear adrenaline pumping music is when you are fighting a really tough enemy (these are the bosses although it is not insinuated as such). Even then, the music blends well with the action on screen.
The Pikmin make many noises throughout and are well placed to the actions that they are doing. From doing a little marching sound when carrying an item back to the screams of horror when being burned, are drowning, or explode you feel attached to them even if itís just for a split second. The enemies also have their unique sounds. The footsteps of a Bulborb chasing after you are enough to give you a scare. The sound made by the leap of a Wollywog has you scrambling your Pikmin to get out of the way of its landing. The inhaling sound a Fiery Blowhog makes will have you directing your Pikmin out of danger that is unless you have Red Pikmin with you. All of these sounds and more are so well integrated into this game that they seem to come ever so naturally.
*Pikmin is a real-time strategy game that is displayed in a third person perspective to Olimarís position. With Olimar, you command your hoard of Pikmin from your ship onto the uncharted terrain of this planet. The Pikmin will follow you through thick and thin and are prepared to lay down their lives for your cause. To do so, as Olimar you can conduct their movements with the use of the Wii remote. The Wiimote will display a cursor on the television on which you can toss Pikmin onto by pressing the A button. You can also press the B button to use your whistle that will alert any Pikmin in that area to stop what theyíre doing and continue to follow you. As for those Pikmin that are following you, you can have them move in a certain direction from you without going too far by pressing down on the D pad. When the C button is pressed, the Pikmin will disband according to their groups. Knowing how to control the Pikmin is the key essence that will help you prevail in this game. While knowing how to control them, you will also need to distinguish them. There are three basic types of Pikmin: Red, Blue, and Yellow. The Red Pikmin are a bit stronger and can resist fire. The Blue Pikmin are a bit more durable and are able to breathe under water. The Yellow Pikmin are lighter which can be thrown higher and have the capabilities to carry Bomb Rocks, a type of self detonatable mineral used to clear obstacles. Aside from their color differences, the Pikmin also share a special trait. The longer they are left underground, the stronger they become. This is signified by their sprout going from leaf into a bud and finally a flower. Flower can also be achieved when the Pikmin consume nectar. A single Pikmin can easily be crushed but as a swarm they can take down many a foe. This is only possible with a few enemies but with the guidance of Capín Olimar, a well placed Pikmin could be the downfall even the great Emperor Bulblax. The way the Pikmin attack is by running up to the enemy and hitting it into submission and with Capín Olimar, they are able to be thrown onto the enemy and deal massive damage. Even with all of this said, the Pikmin are not only fighters. No, Capín Olimar also employs them to clear obstacles, raise structures such as bridges, and bring back to the Onions the spoils of their battles. They will also help Capín Olimar with his main objective to find and retrieve the missing parts to his ship. It is later stated that not all of the missing parts are essential for lift off but getting every single one is the safest way to ensure you can escape alive. All of this must transpire during the day time for the most ferocious of the planetís creatures are nocturnal and Olimar along with the Pikmin would not last the entirety of the night. During the last few minutes of light, Capín Olimar must retrieve all of the Pikmin and have them stop what they were doing. If any of them are left behind, only they know what horrors they have to endure. This only applies to those Pikmin that are uprooted; those that are still planted are safe.
Once you have completed the main story, a new game mode will be unlocked. This is the Challenge Mode. You are given one day on the map of your choosing to harvest as many Pikmin as possible. To do so, you start off with three of each color and some starting pellets. You must go out and kill as many enemies as possible and bring their remains back within this one day. As for the enemies, they differ to where you would normally find them. You might run into a Pearly Clamclamp at the Forest of Hope. Since this game is mostly a one player game, this is a good way to challenge your friends to outdo one another. Granted that you still have to do things one person at a time.
This is a short game but the feeling doesnít seem to be so. Every day lasts about thirteen minutes but you will lose yourself to the task at hand that you wonít even notice the day progression display at the top. That being said this game can be completed in as little as twelve in game days but for a novice player, the first play through might be a bit taxing to ask them to complete it in the full thirty in game days. On average, the game can be completed in about twenty-three in game days. Thatís roughly about a five hour game. Out of the thirty ship parts to be collected, only twenty-five are absolutely necessary to make lift off this in turn gives you three possible endings; one for collecting every part, one for collecting every crucial part, and one for not collecting every crucial part. This gives the game some re-playability. Also, as stated above, when the main mission is completed, you get the challenge mode thatíll give you some more play time and give others a chance to challenge each other.
Pikmin takes the real time strategy game in a different direction. Itís a good game to introduce someone into the real strategy genre without overwhelming them. Coming from the mind of Marioís creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, Pikmin will transport you to a wondrous world full of mystery and excitement. The only problem is how short the game is and the lack of multi-player also hurts it. A game that is charming and a good sit down game at that.