Pikmin 3 - Wii U

Pikmin 3 - Wii U

Developed and Published by Nintendo

Rating: 7.5/10

Clearly a new definition is needed for the term “launch window.” At the moment it’s like the phrase, “I’ll be back in a moment” – it has lost any real meaning in terms of the timeframe being dealt with. We were told that Pikmin 3 (and several other Wii U games) would be released within the launch window, but I think that we can all agree that nine months sits significantly outside of it.

Finally, however, Pikmin 3 has arrived, and and a number of other “launch window” titles will be out within the next month. So was it worth the wait? Will it make up for the fact that Nintendo irresponsibly released a console nine months before they had any games of consequence to launch? Unfortunately not, but I can’t think of many games that would rectify this situation. Pikmin 3 suffers from the weight of nine months’ worth of expectations, because Nintendo has used the game as the masthead for their new console. They have been waving it around as if to say “yeah we fucked up, but this game will make up for it.”

Pikmin 3 is the third instalment in Nintendo’s newest franchise – pretty embarrassing given that the franchise was introduced in 2001. Like its predecessors, Pikmin 3 is a real-time strategy game. This instalment sees three space explorers from the planet Koppai travelling to an unknown planet in search of food for their dying peers. They find food on a planet (keen-eyed players will notice that it is a future, humanless Earth) and also discover a tiny species – Pikmin – which are half plant, half insect.

There are many different varieties of Pikmin, each with various strengths and weaknesses. The player uses these Pikmin to attack enemies, solve puzzles and move obstacles. Though the enemy battles are difficult, the real challenge of the game is fighting the clock: players can only explore during the day as the night is too dangerous, and so must complete tasks within the limited number of daylight hours. This is further complicated by the fact that you use up a portion of your food supply each day, and so the number of days you play must be balanced out by the amount of food you find.

The biggest difference between Pikmin 3 and its predecessors is that the player plays as three different explorers instead of just one, as has been the case in past games. This introduces the element of multi-tasking. Players switch between the three explorers as they carry out separate tasks, allowing you to achieve a singular goal. This results in some pretty chaotic gameplay which is either extremely satisfying (when you have a handle on it) or incredibly frustrating (when you don’t). However, on the whole I had to play each level only twice: first to get my bearings and figure out my objectives; second to actually achieve them. To me this isn’t an example of a quirky gameplay mechanic but rather of a fairly terrible design.

The problem I really have with Pikmin 3 is that it is essentially a Wii game with good graphics. The gamepad is poorly integrated, to the point that most online gaming sites are advising that people play the game with the Wii remote and Nunchuck. This just goes to show that Nintendo’s lack of preparation for the next generation goes beyond not having games ready to not being ready to offer anything new at all. It’s been a long time since we have seen anything new from them, and it seems we have a lot longer to wait.
This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2013.
Posted 2:29pm Sunday 11th August 2013 by Baz Macdonald.