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Pikmin 3 Review

Cart: Pikmin 3
Cab: Wii U
Coin: Nintendo EAD Group 4

The original Pikmin was as close to being a perfect gaming experience as possible. With hectic time and resource management mixed in with real-time, action packed gameplay, all set in a beautiful miniature world, the game ony lasted seven hours, but that felt just about right. The story was a major part of the game mechanic, as you had 30 days to collect enough ship pieces to escape an alien planet.

If you didn’t do it in time, that was that; you had failed. One of the few games that I have played from start to finish many times, Pikmin was one of the stars of the GameCube era. The sequel, Pikmin 2, gave you a lot more freedom to explore, added a whole load of levels, as well as extra modes, including multiplayer support. While it wasn’t quite as magical as the original, it was a fuller, more robust game.

The detail packed into every inch is incredible

The detail packed into every inch is incredible

The long-awaited third game, Pikmin 3, is finally here, and it is not quite what I expected. I had imagined that it would expand on Pikmin 2 in a similar way that game had expanded on the original, albeit with the bonus of HD graphics, and I thought the magic of the original Pikmin would be diminished further still, even if the game would be technically ‘better’.

I was wrong, as Pikmin 3 not only manges to add more levels, characters, gameplay options and modes, but it still manages to capture the spirit of the original game, that lovely feeling of being lost on a strange planet with only the company of an adorable cast of walking plants, a feeling that Pikmin 2 just didn’t have.

In doing so, this becomes Wii U’s best game and reminds us that Nintendo can still make classic games, when they have a mind to.

Pikmin 3 puts you in control of three astronauts, who have arrived on a strange world, looking for food and supplies for their own beleaguered planet. They crash-land and soon come into contact with the Pikmin, who are a race of walking plants, automatically obedient to the three and consummately helpful.

The game is similar to the previous two games in the series in terms of basic gameplay, and feels a lot like the GameCube games, when played with the Gamepad, although you can plug-in a Wii Remote if you want to play in a similar way to the New Play Control re-releases. The Wii Remote offers better, more accurate control, although you will only notice aiming difficulties with the Gamepad when trying to bring down small flying enemies. Incidentally, the multiplayer modes requires Wii Remotes to work, although you won’t need the MotionPlus gadget.

There are now three characters to switch between, which not only means that you can multitask more efficiently, but that there are some complex puzzles to beat. The nature of the day/night cycle means that any puzzle is further complicated by the need to judge whether you have enough time to take it on, much like the wide variety of new nasties to take on.

Thankfully, Pikmin management has now been streamlined, with just one onion housing them, and picking planted Pikmin is also far quicker, although there is still the very rare mix up with some enemies that forcibly plant Pikmin mid battle, as the ‘A’ button is used for both throwing and picking, meaning that you can sometimes set of the auto pick function when you are just trying attack.

There are more areas than ever to explore, and they are simply stunning to look at. Nintendo haven’t just upped the resolution, but packed in some sumptuous details and extras. Butterflies move from leaf to leaf, waterfalls trickle over the Pikmin, the grass and leaves sway and move in and out of focus, and the creatures move gracefully yet awkwardly in a breathtaking tiny world that only points to the joys that lie ahead for patient Wii U owners.

You WILL care about each and every one of those little creatures

You WILL care about each and every one of those little creatures

The music is as joyful and evocative as ever, and the whole thing is an effortless and stunning action strategy game that puts more serious and po-faced games to shame. Not once will you think of your Pikmin minions as units, not once. You can have hundreds and hundreds of them, all stored away in your onion, yet you will spend the last couple of minutes of daylight racing around the level, just to make sure that one red Pikmin isn’t left to face the nighttime beasties alone.

The mission stages add plenty to the game, and you can see that the designers really let fly here, with some of the levels stretching every mechanic to create some great set pieces. The multiplayer modes are improved over Pikmin 2, with the coop levels particularly strong. For those wondering, yes you can choose to play the game entirely on the Gamepad screen, freeing up the TV.

Overall, Pikmin 3 stands head and shoulders above everything else on Wii U, with only the spectre of the Wonderful 101 likely have a chance of bettering it this year. With some of the best graphics on any console, a wonderfully stressful time management/action strategy framework and deviously designed levels of the kind that only Nintendo seem able to make, Pikmin 3 will be hailed as a classic in years to come.

Honestly, when it come to videogames, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.

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