Post Game Wrap Up! Pikmin 3!
I was looking for a game to dust off my WiiU with, but it wasn’t until I actually looked at my selection of games that I discovered that there isn’t many on the WiiU that I own. A couple of digital titles, a few retro ones, but nothing I really wanted to play. It’s partly why my WiiU has gotten so dusty lately. But then I remembered Mario Kart 8. Specifically, that I got a free game with it when I purchased it. I choose Pikmin 3, despite not having any real experience with the series. From what I’ve seen and heard, it seems to be an excellent choice in the starved WiiU library. But I have no experience with this series at all, so it was a whole new experience for me.
Pikmin 3 tells the tale of 3 explorers, Alph, Brittany and Charlie, who, similar to the series normal protagonist Olimar, crash land on PNF-404, a alien planet in search of food for their starving home world. Upon crash landing, the 3 explorers get separated, but discover a race of friendly plant creatures, known as Pikmin, are willing to help them out by following orders. While exploring the planet to recover fruit, reunite with each other, and look for the cosmic drive key which can take them home, they battle monsters, solve puzzles, and interact with returning characters Olimar and Louie. It’s a little strange the story just doesn’t continue with Olimar and Louie, seeing as they are really the focus of the game after a while, and introducing a new crew who don’t really seem all that important. All 3 characters do have a personality to them, but there isn’t real growth with it. They get some humor out of it though, mostly through Brittany, who claims to be a kind, sharing person, but actually hogs more juice than she shares. There isn’t much to the story, but all it’s there for is to get us from point A to B, so in that notion it serves it purpose. It is however on the short side, coming up somewhere between 12-15 hours to complete.
(Screenshots don’t really do this game justice, its really pretty)
Speaking visually for a second, this game is rather gorgeous. It’s also unique given the perspective while playing. Everything in the world is larger than you, giving the game a microscopic feel to it. It helps to make you feel like you truly are on a alien planet, and you are not the dominant species, your just lunch. But that perspective gives the game a certain charm. It helps that its beautiful for a WiiU game. Fruit looks good enough to eat, the stages have unique looks to them, and the flora and fauna of each stage are highly detailed. It’s actually kind of amazing that the game can handle all that, plus up to 100 Pikmin running around with little to no slowdown or lag. Truthfully, I can’t really find any faults with how the game looks, as it looks really good. It might be the trade-off for the short length of the game, as while it is short, what we are given is visually stunning and very impressive.
Game play wise there is a bit of a disadvantage to the game. It’s a RTS, through and through. It’s dumbed- down for consoles, but it’s still a RTS. your collecting resources for troops, managing troops, and fighting monsters. RTS games on home consoles have rarely been any good. Even genre giants tend to be lackluster in this market. But in fairness to Pikmin 3, I only really have one issue with Pikmin 3 in that regard, and it has to do with boss battles. Boss battles tend to resemble Zelda, in the sense that suddenly you need a more active and reactive game play. It kind of clashes with the rest of the game, especially that you and your Pikmin are not nearly nimble enough to make dodging easy. Outside of that though, the game is simple enough to pick up and play without the micromanaging aspects of other RTS. Simplifying the mechanics of an RTS has done wonders. To compensate, the game is more focused around puzzle solving, and that helps to keep it unique. You can separate and use the 3 captains and sub groups to reach items and areas that are otherwise inaccessible. 2 new Pikmin are added, a stone Pikmin, handy for breaking glass and are immune to being crushed, and a pink Pikmin, who can fly and take on aerial baddies, and the standard red, blue and yellow Pikmin, who are immune to fire, water and electricity, respectively. There are other returning Pikmin in multiplayer, such as purple, but they have been removed from single player. Speaking of, the game does have multiplayer, although sadly its only local multiplayer, either in co-op or VS. Co-op is actually rather fun, although you can only play that way in mission mode, which is basically a time limited scoring round. VS is interesting, but rather poorly put together. The player using the Tablet controller has an advantage over their opponent, as they are only ones with a map function. The only fair way to play VS is to not use it, but then you have to use one of the other controllers, which not everyone will have. I just find it funny that is the only time where people will want to use the tablet controller.
(My greatest enemy….)
That is a big issue that I have with Pikmin 3, and a lot of WiiU games in general. The reliance on the tablet controller. Pikmin kind of lies to you about its controller options. You can play this game with one of 3 controllers, either the tablet, the WiiU pro controller, or a Wii mote and nun chuck deal. All 3 play fine, but the issue comes from the lack of a map function. Only the tablet controller is given a map option, even if you are playing with the other control schemes. So that means if you’re in need of a map, you better get up and get the tablet off its charging dock to see it. A lot of WiiU games also have that silly mechanic of forcing the player to look at the tablet, and here is no exception, as anytime you are contacted by radio, the game directs you to look at the tablet. Thankfully though, you don’t actually have to, as the game still displays what’s on the tablet on screen, within the characters tablet, or the Koppad. WiiU games also like to shoe horn that in as well, but that’s a minor nitpick. The problem is that it can be small to read and annoying. The WiiU tablet also has two ways to play now, one the standard way, and another that uses the stylus on screen to help you aim better. The downside is while playing with the stylus option, you either need to rest it on your knee or you gut as the controller itself is to large and heavy to hold in one hand while using it like a 3DS. It’s like the developers forgot that the controller they are using is much larger than the 3DS, but expect you to use it the same way. Thankfully, you can drop out of this mode easy. Another downside with the tablet is dodging. You are eventually able to find a dodge upgrade, but in order to dodge, you have to push the D-pad. In stylus mode, this is impossible to do without dropping the controller, and you’ll have to train yourself to push the d-pad with the stylus and not your left thumb, which is the reflex. You also can’t change your button layout, which is another annoyance I have, as I have two throw buttons, it would be nice to adjust one of them to be the dodge button. The other control schemes work fine, really they do, especially the WiiU pro controller, which is a really good controller. I just wish that the game didn’t railroad you into using the tablet by taking away a handy feature, especially given that the tablet does not have the longest battery life.
To sum it all up I don’t hate Pikmin 3. Really, I find it rather cute and charming in its own unique way, and I can see what people have seen in this series. It’s a fun game to play, it really is. It’s creative, the stages are well put together, and with the exception of being a little short and the controller being finicky, it’s really a great game. I’ve been harsh on the WiiU, it does have games, but their very niche. Pikmin 3 in particular, as I cannot think of any other RTS game that actually works on console. It’s not worth buying the console for, but it’s something that is worth owning all the same as time goes by. If you’re like I was and didn’t play this one, perhaps it’s time to dust off the WiiU and give it a go. Pikmin 3 gets a 7/10.