Video Game Thoughts: Pikmin 3

Pikmin 3 was a 2013 real-time strategy game by Nintendo for the Nintendo Wii U. I found this game to be a lot of fun. I held off on buying it for a long time after reading that it was pretty short. I keep my entertainment budget very low, so a game has to offer a lot of value to consider buying it. I was happy when I saw that NIntendo was re-releasing the game for only $20. At that low of a price, it was an easy sell.

Pikmin 3 had a science fiction setting. The planet Koppai was running out of food and sent out probes to scan the universe for planets bearing the food they needed. Only one probe found anything, so three explorers were sent to verify the probe’s findings. Unfortunately, while nearing the planet’s surface, their spaceship exploded. The explorers survived but were scattered on an alien world. It was up to the player to reunite the three explorers and find a way off the planet, all while fulfilling the mission objective to collect fruit for later analysis on Koppai.

Like many Nintendo games, Pikmin 3 had unique gameplay that couldn’t really be compared with any other games (other than earlier Pikmin games). The minimum requirement to finish the game was getting off the planet, but along the way, the explorers needed food to survive. This came from juice from various fruits found on the planet. That same fruit was also needed to bring back to the home planet for research.

Obstacles came in both environmental and animal varieties. This planet had very large flora and fauna compared to Koppai. The explorers could not navigate the terrain very well. Luckily, there were friendly plant-animals called Pikmin to help. The Pikmin were sort of like ants, weak by themselves but strong in numbers. They didn’t have much intelligence on their own, so it was up to the explorers to give direction. A group of Pikmin could easily build bridges or lift heavy objects out of the way to allow the explorers to progress.

Besides the Pikmin, there was enemy life in the form of carnivores that had no problem chomping down on the Pikmin. Each enemy required unique tactics to defeat effectively. Some enemies were small like the Pikmin and pretty weak. The largest enemies filled most of the screen and functioned as boss fights to advance the plot.

I really enjoyed figuring out solutions to the environmental and carnivore hazards. The environment felt very much like the old Metroid games. As the player found new types of Pikmin plants with new abilities, they could go back to earlier areas and find secret areas with more fruit. Retreading earlier areas was mostly optional, but I really enjoyed using each new tool to its fullest. It was also great fun learning how to defeat all the enemies. Most enemies were weak to one of the Pikmin, so my common strategy was to keep a variety of Pikmin types for any situation.

To keep some tension in the game, there was a survival aspect. Each day, the explorers consumed one glass of fruit juice. It was game over if they ran out. Once I saw this, I made it a priority to always collect as much fruit as early as possible. This paired well with my interest in exploration and returning to earlier areas of the game. Soon enough I had enough juice stockpiled to never have to worry about running out of food for the rest of the game.

Pikmin 3 was a pretty forgiving game. I made a lot of mistakes in the game but never had to worry too much about losing. Even if I did lose, the game automatically saved after each day of gameplay, allowing easy restarts from only a short while back. I think the game could be completed in about 20 days (in-game time) comfortably for an experienced player. It took my inexperienced self about 50 days. However, finding all the fruit was enough food for 99 days, more than enough for pretty much any player.

I also lost a lot of Pikmin on a few occasions, but with so much food, I could just spend a few days transforming defeated enemies into more Pikmin or finding special Pikmin food that grew more of them. By the end of the game, I had collected around 300 of each Pikmin type. Boss battles didn’t even have to be done in one go. If the day ended before the boss was defeated, the player could continue where they left off the next day. The boss’s health stayed where it was at, so the player could slowly whittle it down until they finally won.

The ease of Pikmin 3 was nice for my first time playing, but I do wish they had some extra collection aspects to stretch it out longer. Some sort of hard mode would have been nice also. The game did have a ranking system to keep track of the top 5 completions, but there was no reward for playing the game better after the first time. It was just for bragging rights with friends. I enjoyed playing through the story a few more times using my improved skills to complete the game quicker. In addition to the story, there were two other game modes: Mission Mode and Bingo Battle.

Mission Mode was basically a challenge mode for 1 or 2 players (co-op). There were three kinds of levels: collecting fruit, defeating normal enemies, and defeating bosses. Each of them had their own map with different fruit, enemies, or bosses. The player earned points in each level depending on how well they performed, earning medals for high scores. This reminded me a little bit of the challenges in New Super Mario Bros. U, but there was a little more depth to the challenges in Pikmin 3. I enjoyed Mission Mode. There wasn’t a whole lot of content, but I had a lot of fun with it. I ended up buying the downloadable content for extra fun.

The other game mode was Bingo Battle for 2 players only (competitive). I didn’t get a chance to play this mode since it required 2 players, but it looked fun. Players started on opposite sides of the map, each with their own on-screen bingo board. To fill in squares on the board, they had to collect specific fruits or enemy remains and bring them back to their base. The first player to fill in a line of 4 squares won the game. To keep things interesting, there were bonus items players could find that could boost their own efforts or hamper their opponent’s efforts. While the rules were pretty simple, there was a lot of depth if a player wanted to spend a lot of time with it.

Pikmin 3 wasn’t the best game I played, but it had a lot of charm. I had the same feeling when playing Portal, a short and sweet game. Pikmin 3 was also very replayable. There wasn’t much of an in-game reason to keep playing, but I enjoyed getting better at the game. It did a good job of keeping track of my personal bests. While I had a good time with it, I probably would still hold off on another Pikmin game if it cost the normal $60. There wasn’t enough to justify that much money, but it was very much worth $20. I may not play another Pikmin game, so I was happy to get this chance.

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