Pikmin [Review]

Imagine -- you are the brave Captain Olimar of the planet Hocotate embarking on a much needed and well-deserved galactic vacation. You are aboard your trusted freighter, the SS Dolphin, when you are struck by a rogue comet and find yourself careening out of control into the gravity field of an uncharted planet. As you enter the atmosphere your ship breaks apart into roughly 30 parts that scatter over five areas. Amazingly, you survive the crash and are relatively unharmed but wake to find the planet’s atmosphere containing high amounts of the deadly gas “oxygen” and you have a mere 30 days before your life support fails. Luckily for you, your compulsion to click buttons introduces you to the nearly extinct breed of plant-humanoid hybrids you name Pikmin, after their resemblance to the PikPik carrots of your homeworld. These Pikmin live inside what you call an “Onion”, which is also named after a food of your world, and will help you recover your lost ship parts and hopefully escape their planet in return for your leadership which they require to survive. The first day you and your newly sprouted group of Red Pikmin recover your engine and take off into the planet’s orbit to escape from the nocturnal predators. After Day One the story is up to you -- will you discover all species of Pikmin, defeat dozens of different enemies, collect all of your ship parts and escape the planet? Or will you succumb to the many deaths this strange world can provide you?

Pikmin is an RTS (or Real Time Strategy) from Nintendo in which you control armies of multicolored Pikmin from a third-person perspective of Captain Olimar. Each color of Pikmin has its own usefulness or unique trait that allows it to help out in its own way such as the Red Pikmin being fire resistant or Blue Pikmin being the only ones that can survive being in water. Over the course of the 30 days of the game you will be tasked with retrieving ship parts that broke off the Dolphin. Each part will require some degree of problem solving or battling of the planet’s indigenous predators to retrieve and some will unlock new features for you to use in the location and retrieval of the other parts. You will only have the daytime to collect these parts, however, because the planet’s predators are primarily nocturnal which means you have to lift off into orbit to prevent you and your Pikmin from being eaten. While the game is mostly story-based it still offers a lot of replayability (Ex: If you choose to improve time, parts collected or just flat out winning the game) and includes a challenge mode after discovering all three Pikmin types.

The game includes many features such as the control of up to 100 Pikmin, a time based dilemma where each day only lasts approximately 13 minutes (excluding Day 1 for introduction purposes), good quality graphics (for the Gamecube), well put together areas for you to explore, 3 different Pikmin types with their own special traits, dozens of different enemy types and variations, a challenge mode and the actual loss of the game if you make it impossible for yourself to win in the final day (this will turn off the casual player a little, but gamers that like a challenge will have a field day while trying to beat their previous best time).

There are a few issues with Pikmin such as the fact that the actual Pikmin are quite a bit slower than you and if they lag too far behind they will idle and can be forgotten. The pathing for the Pikmin following you can be quite terrible as they will sometimes run blindly into water that you are avoiding or into a hazardous trap that they can die from. One feature that might make a lot of people angry is you cannot select a day to restart from, so if you are 10 parts behind on day 30 you will most likely never be able to win that save file. In the re-release on the Wii, however, you are allowed to restart from any day you wish.

Overall Pikmin is a fun and challenging game and is highly recommended if you can find it at a reasonable price (most of what you will find is extremely high). If you have already played the game or plan on buying it, the story continues with Pikmin 2 (review coming soon) and the recently released Pikmin 3 (review coming ASAP). Very enjoyable though has some minor issues.

A respectable 4.3/5.

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