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Column: Aaron's Backstage Pass: Pikmin 3 Review

Updated: 08/23/2013 5:13 PM
Created: 08/12/2013 11:28 AM KSTP.com
By: Aaron Chalich

Back in 2001 and in 2004 I played a unique strategy game called “Pikmin” and “Pikmin 2” for the Nintendo GameCube. 

The main character was a treasure hunter named Olimar whose spaceship crashed onto a planet that was populated by a strange race of creatures called Pikmin.  Olimar discovered that he could control the Pikmin and could make them carry parts of Olimar’s destroyed spaceship and other treasure back to his home base.   
 
Oilmar only had a certain amount of time to bring all of the parts and treasure back to his ship, otherwise the game was over.  Each day you had to figure out what was the best way to defeat certain enemies and to bring back all of the treasure and ship parts in the level. 

Both games were very challenging and I really enjoyed them a lot. 
 
This past week I received a review copy of Nintendo’s “Pikmin 3” for the Wii U.  I really enjoyed it a lot and I think that “Pikmin 3” is by far the most challenging and addicting game in the series. 
 
The three main characters in “Pikmin 3” are Charlie, Brittany and Alph.  They are astronauts and they live on a planet called Koopai.  The food supply on Koopai is running out and the three astronauts must find another planet that has food.    
 
They find a planet that they name “PNF-404” that does have a possible food source. But something goes wrong on their spaceship, named "The Drake,” and they end up crash landing on the planet.   
 
All three astronauts get separated and your goal is to find the other two members of your crew and most importantly, find food. 
 
You start out playing as Alph and you soon discover red Pikmin and learn that they can help you do many different things. They can attack enemies, tear down walls and carry items back to your ship.

Alph also finds fruit and learns that there is a ton of fruit on the planet and it contains “Piktamin U,” which can be made into juice and will save your planet. 
 
After a while you eventually find Brittany and the two of you are off to try and rescue Charlie, and to also gather as much fruit as you can before your daily food supply runs out. 

You only brought enough food to last for three days on your mission, so you must find fruit each day.  Once your food supply runs out the game is over, but you can go back and replay previous levels, so that’s nice.  The more fruit you find and bring back to The Drake the more time you will have to try and complete your mission. 
 
I liked the story and thought it was interesting.  It was not too complex, but it made sense and made the game exciting. 
 
The graphics are amazing.  The enemies and scenery are very detailed and are also very colorful.

One thing that I really liked a lot was that when the Pikmin are destroying a wall, the wall is broken down into different layers.  In the previous Pikmin games the Pikmin just attacked the wall until it came down. In “Pikmin 3” the wall will appear different at certain times when the Pikmin are destroying it. I know it may seem like a small detail, but it looks pretty cool.

The bosses look great and you can tell that a lot of time was spent designing them. They all have their own unique way of attacking and you have to figure out how to destroy them.  For example, the first boss you encounter has a hard shell, so you must use the rock Pikmin to break it. While you are throwing the rock Pikmin on the boss, its shell will slowly start cracking until it shatters.  Once it breaks, you can start throwing other Pikmin on it and it will start taking damage.

The controls are very easy to learn and there is an in-game tutorial that explains how to play “Pikmin 3.”  Every time you come across something new, you can look at your gamepad and it will show you and explain what buttons you need to push to do a certain move.  It will also store this information so you can go back and look at it later in case you forget.

To control the Pikmin and make them do what you want is pretty simple.  You have a whistle and when you blow the whistle the Pikmin will follow you.  You select the Pikmin by using a cursor that can be moved around with the analog stick.  There is a menu on the bottom right of the screen that tells you how many Pikmin are following you, the total Pikmin that are available and which type of Pikmin you have. 
 
When you want the Pikmin to destroy a wall, fight an enemy or bring something back to your ship, you just move the cursor on the object and press “A” to throw the Pikmin at it.   
 
The Pikmin can do many different things. They can destroy walls, fight monsters, build bridges and reach items in hard-to-reach places like cliffs. 
 
There are seven different types of Pikmin and they all have their own unique abilities.  
Red– resistant to fire 
Blue– can swim 
Yellow– can be thrown in high places, shock resistant and can dig 
Rock– can smash things with their hard bodies 
Winged– can fly 
White- fast and poisonous 
Purple– as strong as 10 Pikmin

You must figure out which type of Pikmin would be the best to use in each level and that’s what makes the game challenging.   
 
The Pikmin live in something called “the onion.”  In a weird way it’s like a bank.  You can take out and put in Pikmin.  You can control 100 Pikmin at a time and you can choose which Pikmin you want at the beginning of each level. 

Each level is timed and you have to complete each level in a day.  So there is morning, midday and evening.  In the evening you have to make sure you bring back all of the Pikmin and put them back into the onion or they will be eaten by nocturnal monsters.  There is a countdown time that starts from 10 and goes down to one.  When it reaches one, the level is over and you go back to The Drake.

You can grow more Pikmin by having the Pikmin bring defeated enemies back to the onion. If you want more red Pikmin, you just have to make sure the red Pikmin bring back the defeated enemy to the onion.  The enemy is sucked up into the onion and seeds shoot out and are planted in the ground.  Then little sprouts will appear and you can pluck the new Pikmin out of the ground.

When you find Charlie and Brittany, you can also control them.  You can switch between the characters and work on multiple tasks in each level.  This is very helpful and I really like this feature, because it makes you think.  For instance, if you control Alph and have a group of blue Pikmin, you can have them go across a body of water and start making a bridge.  Once the Pikmin are building the bridge, you can switch to Brittany and have another group of Pikmin start gathering fruit or fight enemies.  Once the bridge is completed you can regroup and then maybe go after a larger enemy.
 
As you are playing you can also find data files that are scattered all over the levels that will explain how to do more advanced things in the game.  The data files sometimes contain notes that are left by other explorers.
 
The characters in “Pikmin 3” have a GamePad and they call it “KopPad.”  They use this to communicate with each other and to store data.  At any time during the game you can look at all of the exploration data you have collected.  You can look at your Pikmin information (how many Pikmin you have, what they are doing, etc.), and you can also look at all of the different fruit you collected. 
 
The map of the level is also displayed on the GamePad so you can look and see where you need to go and where certain items are located.   
 
You can also use the game pad to take photos.  When you come across something cool or your Pikmin are doing something amazing like taking down a huge boss, you can snap a quick photo of it by tapping the screen.  You can save the photos and share them with other people.  This is a neat feature and I think a lot of people will like this, because you can show everyone your amazing accomplishments.

There are three different modes you can play in “Pikmin 3.”   
- Story Mode: This is the main game 
- Mission: You must try to complete a mission in a certain amount of time.  You can choose to try and collect as much fruit as you can or you can select to defeat as many enemies as you can. 
- Bingo Battle: You have a bingo card and you must try and get a bingo before the other player by doing and finding specific things. 
 
The Mission and Bingo Battle are two player games, which are really great.  They are fun and also very easy to learn how to play.   
 
Another feature I would like to quickly mention is that you can play “Pikmin 3” in GamePad mode.  I love this feature and it’s great that you can play “Pikmin 3” while someone is using the television.

Overall I really enjoyed Nintendo’s “Pikmin 3” for the Wii U.  It’s very challenging, it’s easy to learn how to play, the graphics are amazing and it’s a fun game to play together as a family.  I also really enjoyed the story and all of the unique Pikmin. I would highly recommend that you check out “Pikmin 3.”   “Pikmin 3” is rated “E” for everyone so it is a great game for kids 10+.

Nintendo Game Cube
Photo: Photo: MGN Online

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