Captain Olimar is flying his space-craft home one day, after finishing his daily job of transporting goods from planet to planet, when he crash-lands on an unknown world that contains a toxic agent in the air that means he only has 30 days to repair his ship (the Dolphin, named in homage to the early project code given to the GameCube pre-launch) and escape back home or else face certain death. Upon initial inspection of his surroundings, he stumbles on an unusual device that reminds him of an onion, leading him to actually call it an 'Onion'. It then proceeds to shoot a seed into the nearby ground, with it sprouting a small, glowing leaf that waves around without the influence of any wind. Once succumbing to the urge to yank it from the ground, Olimar discovers it is in fact a living creature that resembles the Pikpik brand of carrots that he loves so much…and thus the first Pikmin is born and the adventure commences.
With this Wii version comes a far more intuitive control set-up, with players simply moving the Wii Remote around, directing the cursor towards where their Pikmin are patiently waiting, pointing at the on-screen creatures and pressing 'A' to pick them up one at a time, throwing them with another tap of 'A' in the direction that the on-screen cursor has been pointed with the Wii Remote. Hitting 'B' blows a special whistle that brings them all rushing back to Olimar's side whenever necessary, whilst holding 'C' dismisses the group entirely, leaving them to simply stand stationary until further instruction is doled out. To get their attention once more, point the cursor over a group and tap 'B', then players can hold down on the directional pad and point wherever on the screen to command the obedient little critters to first of all form a line ahead of Olimar, then move around wherever you desire, instantly heading off to demolish a nearby flower or tackle an incoming enemy that is within their reach. The 'Z' button on the Nunchuk rotates the camera around the world, cleverly moving the view to wherever the Wii pointer is aimed, whilst also keeping it behind Olimar's back at all times to prevent disorientation, helping to make it one of the most versatile in-game cameras seen in a long time. Left and right on the D-pad zooms to one of three perspectives and up on the D-pad changes the perspective from a top-down view to a three-quarter angle viewpoint.
Olimar gets to travel to different sections of the planet, all depending on the status of his ship. So when enough parts have been obtained, his craft becomes stronger and stronger until new areas can be explored. Each area is extremely well designed, with various obstacles and traps placed carefully around to prevent gamers from easily waltzing through to the final credits with all thirty parts recovered, whilst not being too awkward that gamers new to the world would be instantly put off by the difficulty level. To help with survival and ultimate progress, there are various pellets around the world, each with different numbers written on them, each of which requires a set number of Pikmin to lift and carry them back to the incubator Onion device that then promptly responds by producing more Pikmin sprouts, ready for the plucking. The statistics at the lower part of the screen show the likes of the number of Pikmin currently out in the field, as well as how many are actively following Olimar around. Caution must be taken wherever Olimar leads the Pikmin, as you can indeed lose your precious garden friends either by jumping in your ship to hover above any night-time threats, leaving them behind as darkness begins to fall, or by watching as they die before your very eyes at the hands/claws of monsters, or even when the Red and Yellow Pikmin are allowed to fall into watery depths that only Blue Pikmin are immune to.
Considering our intrepid traveller can do none of the necessary labour work required to return to himself back to Hocotate, he must rely on collecting as many Pikmin as possible to overcome the various obstacles preventing him from finding all thirty parts for his ship and being able to return to his home planet. And this is where the three different coloured creatures play their main role. It should also be noted that unearthing new Pikmin from the ground too early is not wise, as there are three stages of growth - the leaf, bud and blossom periods, starting with the leaf stage being the weakest/slowest form and ending with the blossoming shoots being the strongest/quickest, and thus the blossoming period is the perfect time to extract them from the ground. Worry not, though, should you prove to be a 'premature plucker', there are certain plants and rock-covered areas around the world that offer up a special nectar that boosts attributes, converting leaf- and bud-Pikmin into mighty, blossoming flower warriors.
It has already been mentioned that the Blues can travel underwater, but there are also the Yellow daredevils, the lightest of the bunch, allowing them to float slightly when thrown. This helps them reach heights the Reds and Blues simply cannot, as well as being the only group of the three to be able to handle Bomb Rocks used for demolishing necessary objects such as stone barriers, or dealing massive damage to foes. Finally, the standard Reds are the sheer brutes of the team, with their brawn being far in excess of the others; plus they have the ability to resist threats of fire. With only 100 Pikmin in total available out in open play at any one time, striking the right balance between the three is an integral part of survival when faced with large stretches of water, beasts that spit fire (the Fiery Blowhog, which shakes Pikmin off its back and sprays them with scorching flames) plus massive, seemingly indestructible structures faced on a regular basis.
In order to achieve Olimar's primary objective in the shortest time possible, as many Pikmin are required as possible, and thankfully it is not just the numbered pellets around the world that create more of the creatures, but monsters as well. Therefore, once an enemy has been despatched by your flowery army, they can heave the beast back to the Onion and bolster their numbers further to aide their Captain's plight. Of course, though, this could lead to times of boredom and frustration as there is a need to then go around and pull each new Pikmin from the ground. A pleasing inclusion, however, is that when there are indeed numerous Pikmin ready to be pulled from the ground, simply tapping 'A' repeatedly gets them up and ready as quickly as possible, with Olimar automatically rushing from one to the next, instead of players having the laborious task of meandering over to each one and plucking, then moving to another...repeating ad nauseum.
As mentioned earlier, at the end of each in-game day, the Pikmin must be rounded up and sent back into their Onion, therefore a constant eye should be kept on your group. To help matters, as well as the numbered on-screen statistics, after a Pikmin has completed an allotted task it will simply stand around doing nothing, with its colour also draining, so, for instance, the red Pikmin will turn a paler pink shade whilst being unused, meaning they are easier to distinguish from the main crowd and round up safely (later in the game Olimar acquires a Radar that helps making Pikmin location easier, as well as finding further ship parts). Similar to the end-of-day routine, at the start of a new day Olimar must mosey on over to the Onion again, yet this time for the purpose of choosing how many of each type of Pikmin he requires, so as to not have to worry too much about always keeping a close eye on the entirety of the ever burgeoning army under his control. When it comes to controlling all three coloured types, things may well get confusing, yet dismissing the group with the 'C' button splits them into their different groups. In addition, when you hold 'A' to pick one up and throw it, should you wish to change to another type, simply tap 'B' whilst still holding 'A'. Everything is broken down into the simplest possible form so that anyone can jump right in.
The amount of skill involved to obtain all thirty ship items in the allotted time span is extremely high at many times, with players having to determine just how many of each Pikmin type is required on a particular day, with the requirements changing depending on the terrain of the section of world accessible. Luckily, should you ever completely mess up on any one day, there is now the option to go back through the days on Olimar's log and re-start from whatever day you choose. This can certainly prove to be a major relief whilst on the mission to gather the thirty parts for Olimar's ship over the thirty day split. Obviously having a deadline for the Captain's survival means there is obviously a limited lifespan to the game, something that proved to be an issue when first released, especially when the sequel came out and fleshed out the premise much more, developing upon the idea and feeling more like a finished product, as well as scrapping the time limit. However, there is a Challenge Mode on offer that adds some extra longevity to the package. When the player has found all three coloured types of incubating Onion, Olimar can be challenged on how many Pikmin he can produce in one day. This is separate to the one-player main mode and pits players against the clock, as well as various enemies from the main adventure, meaning even if lots of Pikmin are produced, without careful management they could be sent to Pikmin heaven very quickly...This is definitely something to help extend the game further, and with the added Wii controls, and reduced price-point, this is an excellent entry into the series for old fans and newcomers alike.