Quick Look: Pikmin 3

Alex, Brad, Drew, and the nightmare monster just want to give the little Pikmin a hug.

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Pikmin 3 Review

4
  • WIIU

Pikmin 3 might just be the most pleasingly balanced entry in the franchise yet.

Nine years after its last sequel, Pikmin 3 ably reminds us why fans of this unique strategy/action hybrid still have such fond feelings for the franchise. Those years of nonexistence haven't led to some radical shift in style, mechanics, or even progression, mind you. Instead, the time spent crafting Pikmin 3 for Nintendo's Wii U console has resulted in a game that feels almost exactly like what a modern Pikmin game ought to feel like. It takes elements from both its predecessors, tweaks some concepts and ideas, adds a few new flavors of Pikmin, and boosts the visual fidelity to expected degrees of quality. Pikmin 3 is exactly what you think it is, and that should be just fine for any fan of this series.

More captains, more Pikmin, more of everything, really. This is what Pikmin 3 is all about.

One thing notably different from previous Pikmins is the absence of previous protagonist Captain Olimar. Pikmin 3 takes place some time after the previous games, and instead tells the tales of three new explorers named Alph, Brittany, and Charlie, who have come to the Pikmin homeworld in search of a new food source for their ailing planet. Expectedly, they crash land and end up separated, but as the game rolls along, you'll eventually reunite them and end up controlling each of the crew members in concert.

And you'll control those adorably, vacantly helpful Pikmin too. Initially, you'll have just a few at your disposal, but it won't be long before you're commanding large swarms to break down walls, attack killer creatures, and haul both their carcasses and other found objects back to your ship for absorption/study. The main objects you'll be looking for are various fruits, the object of your mission and also your key to survival. Pikmin 3 is broken out into different days, and at the end of each day, you and your Pikmin must retreat back to your landing site to avoid any nocturnal predators. Any Pikmin left straggling behind are mercilessly devoured by the aforementioned predators, and if you fail to grab fruit, you'll start draining your ship's stores of sustenance. A jar's worth of juice is used each day, so collecting fruit to distill into drinkable stores is vital to your survival.

This is one of the better ways that Pikmin 3 strikes a balance between the designs of the previous games. Pikmin had that hard-stop limit of 30 days to gather all your ship parts and escape the planet, while Pikmin 2 went fully in the other direction, creating a somewhat breezy, if occasionally listless experience. Here you have as many days as you need to complete your journey, but each day blows by at an occasionally startling clip, and running out of juice is a concern you must be mindful of.

Odds are you won't run out of Pikmin, so long as you don't simply toss them to the slaughter on a regular basis. Plus, there are myriad types of Pikmin to "collect," if that's the right word. Previous subspecies, like the red, yellow, and blue varieties, are joined by rock Pikmin (whose hard outer shells make them ideal for cracking particularly tough surfaces), and pink flying Pikmin, which don't enter until far later in the game, but have the delightful distinction of being able to simply fly past most major obstacles (though definitely not all). There are white and purple varieties, too, though they're relegated to the game's offline only multiplayer mode.

Going into Pikmin 3, I had no particular desire for multiplayer. But that bingo battle mode won me over pretty quick.

That multiplayer mode, incidentally, is also a pretty solid addition. The mission mode (which features short maps with specific objectives, and can also be played solo) is decent enough, but really the bingo battle mode is what sells it. Here, each player is given a specific "bingo card" that includes particular enemies and fruit types that have to be brought back to each player's home base. Though the fact that it's only a splitscreen mode limits its appeal a bit, this is one of those modes that's exciting enough to make it absolutely worth dragging a friend over for.

If Pikmin 3 has any particularly noteworthy flaw, it's that it doesn't offer up a single control scheme that comes without caveat. Presumably, most players are expected to use the GamePad to control things, which certainly has its advantages. The GamePad screen acts as a map, for instance, which is incredibly useful as you go back to explore environments and look for any areas you might have missed. It also features camera control via the right stick, which allows you to keep from getting boxed in by large enemies (except in the rare instances where the game just decides you don't get to have camera control). The one thing it doesn't do very well is allow you to round up Pikmin quickly and efficiently. That's something the Wii Remote control scheme does much better, though that obviously lacks both the advantages of the GamePad.

The world of Pikmin 3 is lush, vibrantly colored, and adorably designed.

In either situation, Pikmin 3 mostly handles admirably. I found myself running into some issues with boss fights early on, mostly as I tried to keep my Pikmin together and maintain target locks on the enemy, which can be more of a chore than it ought to be. To be fair, boss battles have never been my favorite part of Pikmin, and while the ones offered up in Pikmin 3 are generally well-designed, they didn't change my mind on the subject, either. I prefer the more leisurely parts of the game. I like taking in the colorful, sumptuously realized visuals, tackling the Pikmin-oriented world puzzles, and collecting thing after thing. All of these aspects of Pikmin 3 are well done, to the point where I found myself easily getting lost in the campaign, while not actually getting lost trying to navigate the campaign, if you know what I mean.

For these reasons, Pikmin 3 is an easy recommendation for any Wii U owner, and not just for lack of available games as of this writing. Even with a stronger library of competing titles, Pikmin 3 would stand out due to the sheer craft and attention to detail paid to each aspect of its design. Yes, it's most certainly "just" more of the Pikmin we came to know during the GameCube era, but after nine years on the shelf, coming back to a Pikmin game this solidly designed quickly reminded me why I had such affection for this series in the first place.

Alex Navarro on Google+
44 Comments
Posted by Smacraigen

Sounds like it's almost worth buying a Wii U for. Almost...

Posted by csl316

I like when nice games like this melt Alex's cold, cold heart.

Online
Posted by TorMasturba

Will buy this, thanks Alex!

Posted by Aelric

@csl316 said:

I like when nice games like this melt Alex's cold, cold heart.

He seems to be a sucker for cute. I've noticed a lot of metalheads and wrestling fans are.

Edited by Morningstar

I'll buy this the day I buy a WiiU. In about 3 more great games released.

Posted by FinalDasa

Sounds like it's almost worth buying a Wii U for. Almost...

I've been mulling that decision over since Pikmin 3 has been on the horizon. I just wish there was one or two more games that could convince me this is something I want to purchase. Also spending $350 on a console when I know I'll buying a much better console a few months from now for only a few hundred dollars more makes it a harder sell.

Posted by Grissefar

@alexAll of these aspects of Pikmin 3 are well done, to the point where I found myself easily getting lost in the campaign, while not actually getting lost trying to navigate the campaign, if you know what I mean.

Yeah I think I know what you mean, high five broman.

...

No, I don't know what you mean! Do you mean you lose yourself in the world and activities without getting lost?

Posted by ProfessorEss

I hope that someday there's enough WiiU exclusives to convince me to buy one because Pikmin not only looks awesome but is also something I can't seem to satisfy elsewhere.

Posted by jasonefmonk
@csl316 said:

I like when nice games like this melt Alex's cold, cold heart.

"Maybe we could melt the governor's icy heart with a cool island song!"

"Yeah!"

"No!"

"No?"

"No! He's right. We have to freeze his hot heart with a cool island song."

"Or is it freshen his hot temper with a cool island song?"

"Let's cool his hot temper with a fresh island song."

"That's it!"

(South Park S06E09 "Free Hat")

Posted by ElCapitan

My favorite game of August so far. Pikmin 3 is a real delight.

Edited by BoOzak

Does Pikmin 3 have dungeons? (as in multi-tiered caves) I'm playing through Pikmin 2 at the moment and it's feeling more like Diablo than Pikmin. I'm still enjoying it, but I prefer the open landscape to the randomly generated gauntlets that seem to make up most of Pikmin 2.

Posted by Itwongo

Purples and whites aren't in the campaign? Laaaaaaame.

Online
Posted by rasko_the_brave

Seems like a game I would play while the sound is off, listening to a podcast.

Edited by PK_Koopa

If the Wii U was just a bit cheaper then this, W101 and Bayonetta 2 would sell me on this system.

Edited by TehPickle

It's a really great game, but the story mode is far too easy for my liking. I've just about reached the end of the game, and still have about 30 bottles of juice in reserve. 30!

If they insist on including mechanics that make me feel like I have to hurry, I'd rather they made me feel like I have to hurry.

Edited by spookytapes

@jasonefmonk: this was just on Comedy Central last night .

I want to play this.

Edited by __pb__

@boozak: Not yet, and I'm several hours into the game. I've read that they're absent from this installment. Maybe they're saving it for DLC, now that Nintendo is on that bandwagon.

Posted by willbot

Using the wii mote control option does not disable the map on the gamepad. I played the game with the wii mote and had the gamepad on my lap just for the map. Also you can switch between the two control options on the fly by simply pressing the A button.

Posted by Zevvion

@smacraigen said:

Sounds like it's almost worth buying a Wii U for. Almost...

I've been mulling that decision over since Pikmin 3 has been on the horizon. I just wish there was one or two more games that could convince me this is something I want to purchase. Also spending $350 on a console when I know I'll buying a much better console a few months from now for only a few hundred dollars more makes it a harder sell.

I'm in the same boat. I have my XO and PS4 pre-ordered that will release later this year. Meanwhile I still have 360, PS3 and PC. Also, Vita and 3DS. I'm not constricted to any platform at all and can play anything out there besides Wii U games. Therefor, I'm in no hurry to buy it yet.

I am a total nut though. I reckon it will take three games, three really great games, to haul me over into buying one. But I'm not sure if that will happen... Besides the Pokemon games, I can't really take the 'exact same game' concept that Nintendo often lays out. I really wanted Super Mario Galaxy on Wii... and that's about it. Things like Brawl and Skyward Sword looked fine, but I don't really count them towards the magical number of three because I've played those games before recently. I've played Pikmin before, but not recently so that counts.

Still waiting on two more games. And probably a price drop. I think new Zelda in HD, Metroid and/or new Mario will probably do the trick. But I'm not sure if that will happen anytime soon.

Edited by Alex

@willbot: I know you can still see the map on the gamepad, but I found it a bit distracting to try and keep this other screen nearby while controlling the game with the Wii Remote.

Staff
Posted by CollegeGuyMike

4 Star Summer goin' strong.

Posted by bkbroiler

Yay more reviews! It's a cornucopia of my favorite Giant Bomb content!

Posted by wewantsthering

I bought a Wii U just to play this. :-)

Posted by MiniPato

Four 4 star reviews in a row. The planets must be aligning!

Posted by wgoldie

Seems like the CBSi computers have a stuck 4/5 button

Posted by theger

Read "by Vinny" at first, and was going through the review thinking, man, Vinny can write! Saw afterwards it was you, Alex (was confusing video byline with review byline). A compliment whichever way you see it, no?

Posted by Helios1337

@finaldasa: Watch for store specials, the deluxe model goes on sale for $299 almost every week here. I got mine on special and no tax weekend deal, so what would have been $395 after taxes, was only $299.

Edited by Helios1337

@boozak: It has a couple small caves, but not multi-level caves like Pikmin 2. 95% of it is outdoors.

Posted by spankingaddict

Pikmin 3 is great , but it's no Pikmin 2 . I'm hoping the next sequel will be more like the second .

Pikmin 3 is basically an improved Pikmin 1 .

Edited by npa189

Wonderful game, I just hope it doesn't take another 9 years for nintendo to make another one. Pikmin is a franchise that nintendo has seriously underutilized and that is saying somthing about the house of yearly Mario.

Edited by DeF

Pikmin 3 is great , but it's no Pikmin 2 . I'm hoping the next sequel will be more like the second .

Pikmin 3 is basically an improved Pikmin 1 .

Gah, really? I felt the caves in Pikmin 2 were terrible. Made the entire game feel way more like a dungeon crawler than anything else.

Edited by Frootsnax

I bought it and beat it same day. The in-game clock said I played 16.5 hours, and that felt about right. It's been a while since I've been that gripped by a game, and it made me feel justified to have a Wii U.

I did however run into the same control issues that @alex mentioned. Ultimately I used the Gamepad for the whole game, and eventually I compensated for the clunkiness of the analog stick style Pikmin aiming.

Posted by Haziqonfire

I'm glad to know they balanced the way the days work from the first two games this time around. I got the game as a gift the other day but haven't played it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. The quick look definitely made me more excited than I initially was.

Edited by Marokai

@wgoldie said:

Seems like the CBSi computers have a stuck 4/5 button

I remember a long time ago that X-Play used to talk about the phenomenon of "the Nintendo Four," which they described as their tendency to give quality Nintendo games four stars instead of five, not out of any kind of malice, but because that Nintendo games, while usually well crafted and interesting, also only seem to do one specific thing very well or only appeal to certain people and are thus hard to recommend without caveats. I wish I could find deeper explanations from X-Play on that, but that's often what I think of when I read four star reviews of Nintendo games.

Posted by Sooty

I won't buy a Wii U until the controller doesn't require daily charging.

Posted by Shaanyboi

@alex Solid review Alex, but using the Wii remote/nunchuk doesn't disable the map function of the Gamepad. Its still acts as a map - I just have it sitting on the coffee table infront of me. Finally found a use for that stand...

Edited by theFinalTardis

With regards to the controls - yes they suck. Also, yes I have successfully completed the game using only the wii U controller.

@shaanyboi I believe the controls you describe may be the very best version, if you have a coffee table and a stand anyway!

Edited by probablytuna

"Just more of the same" should be Nintendo's motto, if it isn't already.

Posted by FreddieFiasco

Definitely one of Alex's better reviews. Good show, old sport.

Edited by CatScanner

@csl316 said:

I like when nice games like this melt Alex's cold, cold heart.

"Maybe we could melt the governor's icy heart with a cool island song!"

"Yeah!"

"No!"

"No?"

"No! He's right. We have to freeze his hot heart with a cool island song."

"Or is it freshen his hot temper with a cool island song?"

"Let's cool his hot temper with a fresh island song."

"That's it!"

(South Park S06E09 "Free Hat")

HAHAHAHAHAHA

Posted by Sellier2MTF

Sounds like it's almost worth buying a Wii U for. Almost...

i've almost buy the wii U only for this game.. Lol

No really, this game look like awesome, i was sad to finish Pikmin 2 because i wanted the next since i see Olimar in Super Smash Bros Brawl (and he is actually annonced on the new SSB), i wanted his come back of him and the pikmin, and now i'm sad because he is only on wii U, demn.

the new pikmin sound like great innovation with the new world i hope, but i'm very sad about the new characters of Pikmin, maybe they are more charismatic than olimar who know.

Olimar, Louis where are youuuu ? *sob*

I wish all the best for the baby of Miyamoto-Sama for all old memorys that he give me and my friends on the coop-mode of pikmin 2, also if a lot a comment says he is not better than the 2.