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Pikmin 3 (Wii U) Review

Review for Pikmin 3 on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

One of the many inventions from the mind of Shigeru Miyamoto, Pikmin was based around the idea of little helpers providing assistance around the garden. The leap from imagination to reality was more than just a smooth one, with both Pikmin and Pikmin 2 on GameCube hitting all the right notes, building up a strong following in a short time. It was such a shame that the third game never transpired, despite being mentioned in interviews shortly after the release of the second title. Wii U is here, though, and along with it the belated Pikmin 3. Should fans of old still be excited?

Adam and Jorge explore the world of Pikmin 3 in a collaborative effort for survival.

Adam Riley, Operations Director, Senior Editor


Welcome to the wonderful world of Pikmin, where players take control of a little spaceman that has crash-landed on a strange planet and quickly finds he has the ability to take charge of large batches of flower folk, getting them to carry out numerous useful tasks. This time round, there is more than one space explorer to deal with co-operatively, a trio of adventurers. After reuniting them, following the initial dispersal of personnel following the catastrophe entering planet PNF-404's atmosphere, it is a case of switching between each at will to explore the full extents of the surrounding landscape, using varying groups of Pikmin as necessary.

Demolish walls, build bridges, tear down weird beasts wandering around, uncovering new pathways to important spaceship-related kit, and much more; this is basically a standard strategy game, the likes of Command and Conquer, StarCraft or Cannon Fodder, except with a jovial Nintendo twist.

Taking charge of Captain Charlie, Alph or Brittany is simply done using the analogue stick for quick movement across the environments, whilst those opting to use the far superior Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination merely have to point in the general vicinity of various Pikmin in order to blow a special whistle and call them to arms. The GamePad can be used for general controls, but is too clunky compared to the infra-red pointer of the Wii Remote that original came into action in the New Play Control! editions of the first two Pikmin games. The new Nintendo controller, however, does include a helpful map feature that can make co-ordinating routes and managing inventories easier, but it's likely this will be plopped nicely on a table to act as a more of a companion device. It should also be noted that the distance at which Pikmin can now be called is considerably further than before, reducing any of the frustration from previous titles.

Screenshot for Pikmin 3 on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

This stems from the obvious additional power of the Wii U, with the visual acuity being improved tenfold (and then some!), and the high definition sheen truly making the world before the players' eyes pop out. Everything has an immensely pleasing level of polish that makes what was already a graphically impressive series that much better. There is even a fully-voiced introduction, which comes as a shock, but is then followed by the disappointment of the actual space folk muttering in Banjo Kazooie-esque gibberish noises and grunts. However, the serene soundtrack and gorgeous atmospheric sound effects all help brush over this, upping the ante in the ambience stakes to make for an absorbing romp.

Days still pass by as before, meaning an eye must be kept on the timer bar at the top of the screen and make sure that Pikmin are brought back within a certain radius of the Onion they "live" in. This restriction may seem frustrating, but it imperative to hone the search and find aspect of the game and, thus, prevent aimless wandering without cause that would otherwise lead to boredom setting in. Instead, each new day, players set out with the incentive of swiftly heading for the next goal, be it building Pikmin reserves, retrieving fruit, grabbing essential spacecraft items, or even unearthing new Pikmin types and going on rescue missions. There is such a wide variety of tasks at hand that it is a real pleasure trekking back, taking pause, and then setting off again for another attack.

Screenshot for Pikmin 3 on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Jorge Ba-oh, Editor/Founder


The approach to survival and a true sense of going head-on against time has been realised fully in Pikmin 3, harkening back to the brutal days of the franchise's debut GameCube outing. This time round our adventurers are gathering supplies for their home planet; however also desperately attempting to horde as much fruit as possible to survive their time on Planet PNF-404. Each day requires at least one bottle of fruit juice in order to progress, or else it's the dreaded "Game Over" screen for our trio. Fortunately, at the sacrifice of save data, players can select an earlier day in order to regroup, restrategise and take a different approach to whatever went wrong during the first cycle. This approach is a solid balance of the intense pressure of the first Pikmin, with the slightly more forgiving nature of Pikmin 2.

The symmetry between exploration and survival invites a renewed sense of strategy to each day on PNF-404. Instead of simply scurrying about and collecting resources all willy-nilly, players might set out with one of the three explorers to try and recover even the smallest slice of fruit to extend sustenance, whilst the others would bravely chip away at a boss sequence or attempt to break into a new area.

Whilst some Pikmin types have been abandoned in the main game for this release, the traditional roster of red, yellow and blue are all present and accounted for. As with the previous titles, each of these Pikmin colours aren't simply for show, but offer a key ability that's critical for survival. Red Pikmin are resilient to fire, blue enjoy a spot of swimming, whilst yellow embrace electricity with ease. Their core characteristics remain intact; however our yellow coloured critters can now link together to act as natural wires for another puzzle element. The purple and white species, favourites introduced in Pikmin 2, do make a return this time round, but are only accessible in the co-operative mission mode and bingo features.

Pikmin 3 doesn't want its predecessor to steal its creature-creating thunder, so also has its own new Pikmin species to encounter - a Rock type, useful for shattering more solid objects like glass, and the Winged Pikmin, for exploring areas inaccessible to others. These two new recruits certainly shake up the landscape to make players think slightly differently to how a puzzle or obstacle might be overcome.

As with the previous games, Nintendo have a knack for making the Pikmin feel truly alive, that a bond and attachment is formed with your army of willing helpers. This is particularly noticeable when facing an unrelenting boss animal, who can swoop in and devour your horde without a second's thought. These sequences are by far the hardest element to Pikmin 3; a David and Goliath moment that requires a good deal of time - even over a few days - and the right sort of Pikmin to bring for the situation. For example, without giving too much away, one boss demands the rock type to break through its solid shell, whilst another requires a heap of yellow Pikmin in order to active lights to uncover a lover of the dark.

Screenshot for Pikmin 3 on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Pikmin 2 shook up the series with a series of caves or dungeons that introduced a different feel when compared the premise in the original. Gone was the ticking clock for these levels, in favour of deeper exploration and a limited arsenal of Pikmin at your disposal. Whilst loved by some fans, the inclusion of caves in Pikmin 2 was considered unfavourable by others. Addressing this feature in the sequel, Nintendo lean very much towards the original Pikmin in the overworld's design, opting for obstacle driven areas, rather than segmented dungeons.

However these cave levels did create a more adventure-like flavour in some areas and so a similar setup is taken in the game's additional Mission Mode. Here, there are a series of set pieces designed for shorter play sessions, practice for the main game and also as a co-operative option for two players. Objectives like collect the fruit and defeat enemies are useful practice for the story campaign; and offer newer players the ability to learn the ropes without fear of being dominated by that ticking clock. It isn't quite as deep as those caves, yet does follow that line of thinking.

The multiplayer fare doesn't end there either, with an addictive "Bingo Mode" returning from Pikmin 2. Two players once again face off, split screen, in a bid to be the first to achieve a row of Pikmin bingo by hoarding enemies and collecting fruit. It sounds like a simple setup, but the inclusion of game-changing items makes it a highly competitive and enjoyable feature; perhaps more so than the co-operative missions.

It is a shame that Pikmin 3 keeps the gameplay experience strictly offline as the multiplayer aspects are thoroughly enjoyable. Nintendo have noted in the past that synchronisation issues, especially with up to 100 Pikmin out on the field at one time, are why the game has been designed for a local multiplayer experience in mind. However, there is the ability to take photos during the adventure and share these with the community on Miiverse - so there is community involvement, albeit a small one.

Screenshot for Pikmin 3 on Wii U- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Stellar, challenging and ultimately rewarding gameplay that collates the best features from the previous two Pikmin titles into a comprehensive and enjoyable experience. Nintendo have woven an adventure that's more accommodating to newer players at the beginning, but still keeps the experience a difficult one as our adventurers progress through the planet.

Graphics

As one of Nintendo's most sublime, rich outings yet, Pikmin 3 sprouts a gorgeous, highly detailed art style that radiates an unparalleled Nintendo charm. Taking influence from the past Pikmin titles, Nintendo uses the Wii U hardware to its full potential, weaving intricate details and a true sense of scale in this expansive planet. There wasn't any ounce of slow-down either, even in the game's ferocious multiplayer.

Sound

The addition of some voiced sequences adds that sense of immersion, but the main dialogue is still presented in inter-planetary gibberish. However, the experience is made complete with a varied, slightly tribal and organic sound that heightens the feeling of being trapped in a foreign world.

Value

Pikmin 3 will last a matter of fifteen to twenty hours on the first run-through, potentially more so for those unfamiliar with the franchise's almost unforgiving nature. Despite the lack of online play, there is still a thoroughly enjoyable Bingo multiplayer mode, plus a handful of missions that can be played co-operatively with a friend locally.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

Rich, exciting, gorgeous and thought-provoking - there are many positives to mention when it comes to Pikmin 3. Whilst not radically genre or game-changing, Nintendo's third entry has brought together the best of its predecessors into one comprehensive package. Pikmin 3 isn't easy by any means, but it isn't - pardon the pun - alien to newcomers, with solid stepping stones for those wanting to explore this world for the first time. Nintendo has woven a very distinctive approach to the strategy genre, and Pikmin 3 a prime candidate for your Wii U collection.

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27.07.2013

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Nintendo

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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (353 Votes)

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Staff Member

Zavvi was kind enough to not dispatch my copy until yesterday while dispatching New Super Luigi U on Wednesday, so if I'm unlucky I wont even get this game next week. Smilie

Cubed3 Reviewer/Feature Writer | Twitter | Backloggery

Loving the game so much! Nintendo in HD looks so nice! Wow that water! I am going to play it all night!

When in doubt....Whip it out!
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Hynaman said:
Loving the game so much! Nintendo in HD looks so nice! Wow that water! I am going to play it all night!

That's exactly what I said - played it till about 2am and was late for work 2 days in a row lol Smilie

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Amazon sent mine Thursday night and it still hasn't arrived, they're getting worse and fulfilling pre-orders for launch day eh.

The main thing I wanna know about the game is, one of my favourite things about the first 2 games were the seriously creepy enemies with almost godly powers that were really hard to beat, like the Smoky Progg and the Waterwraith.

Are there any enemies like that in Pikmin 3? I'll genuinely be disappointed if there aren't. Smilie

( Edited 27.07.2013 12:55 by SuperLink )

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

It's a shame the main game isn't fully co-op. Would be fantastic to work together. Was missed in Pikmin 2 and now in 3. Smilie

CaribbeanBrony (guest) 27.07.2013 17:56#6

> Taking charge of Olimar, Alph or BrittanyHey guys, did you forget Charlie?

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

CaribbeanBrony (guest) said:
> Taking charge of Olimar, Alph or BrittanyHey guys, did you forget Charlie?

Nicely spotted, sorry - typo there!

Ifrit XXII said:
It's a shame the main game isn't fully co-op. Would be fantastic to work together. Was missed in Pikmin 2 and now in 3. Smilie

Aye, mission mode it is - still, it's good to have, though I defo see what you mean about the main game having it - would really have worked given the three playable characters.

SuperLink said:
Are there any enemies like that in Pikmin 3? I'll genuinely be disappointed if there aren't.

There are all sorts, the bosses are pretty disturbing I must say - they do make good use of the different Pikmin types. It's more disturbing in the sense that they'll eat a shit load of Pikmin if you do wrong (watch my playthrough videos...!) and you really do get attached to these little buggers this time round!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Staff Member

Gotta have this. Gotta have it now!

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Audio version of the review coming this Thursday on Glass to the Wall.

In the Full Price Top 40 in the UK, Pikmin 3 made it to No.1! Impressive - first Wii U game to do so...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Adam Riley said:
In the Full Price Top 40 in the UK, Pikmin 3 made it to No.1! Impressive - first Wii U game to do so...

I thought it only made it to #2? Unfortunately hasn't helped Wii U sales much either because Nintendo Land still isn't appearing in the Top40.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

That was in the chart that included budget games - Minecraft on 360 is super cheap. In the Full Price Only chart it was No.1. Depends on the site reporting. Many prefer doom and gloom when it comes to Nintendo. Seeing both NSLU and Pikmin doing well is surprising in a good way given how nothing Wii U related seems to sell here.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I started the game last Friday and I'm already in the last level. Awesome game, I just can't put it away!

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