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Feature: A Weekend With Pikmin 3

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Our staff share their thoughts on the major Wii U release

It's been quite a while since we could discuss a major Wii U exclusive, in terms of a title with the potential for strong sales and capturing the public imagination. Game & Wario has its supporters, of course, but it's been a long summer short of eye-catching new content to grab headlines and attention for Nintendo's home console. As the first of a number of titles coming in the next few months with that very goal, Pikmin 3 has arrived on the scene in Europe, earned a great deal of critical praise and made its UK all-format chart debut in second place. It's a Wii U game that people are talking about, which is a welcome turn of events.

Ahead of its arrival in North America this weekend, a group of Nintendo Life staff have decided to give their personal initial perspectives of the game after a weekend of familiarisation. For some this is their first game in the series, while others are veterans of gathering fruit with cute little minions; you shouldn't forget that if you want to know what we officially think, you should check out our Pikmin 3 review.

This is a chance for some of the team to share their own impressions, and what they feel makes this an important release on Wii U.

Darren Calvert

Has it really been nine years since the last Pikmin game? I absolutely adored the first two Pikmin games on the GameCube all those years ago, so it was with great excitement that I downloaded Pikmin 3 for the Wii U. I’m probably about halfway through the game at the time of writing and am having a whale of a time with it. Bringing back the time limit from the first Pikmin game was a sensible move to restore some of the energising tension that Pikmin 2 lost, I think Pikmin 3 gets it just right by using fruit to control the number of days you can explore.

It’s no secret that the Wii U’s software library has been a bit lacking since the console’s launch seven months ago. While I would have loved for this to be ready for the Wii U launch window, I think the extra time that Nintendo has spent polishing the game has been put to good use (based on the early previews I played last year).

The game looks absolutely gorgeous of course; this was always going to be a game which benefited from HD. In terms of the controls, I think the right balance has been struck with the use of the GamePad. I prefer playing the game with the Wii Remote as it’s so much quicker for aiming your Pikmin around the field. Having the GamePad next to me on the sofa as a handy map that I can quickly jump on to set new destinations is great. Also taking photos in first person mode to share on Miiverse is pretty neat too. It’s also a nice bonus to be able to play the entire game on the GamePad screen if a family member commandeers the TV to watch their favourite show. Some commentators have said that more could have been done with the GamePad in this game, but I’m thankful that features weren’t just shoehorned in for the sake of it, that was one of my pet hates with the Wii Remote in the last Nintendo gen (Yes DKCR waggle to roll, I am looking at you!).

On the whole so far my impressions of Pikmin 3 are entirely positive and I hope it helps shift a few more console units. While it obviously won’t be a system seller like a Mario or Zelda game, it should assist the cause. It would be a crying shame if a game of such outstanding quality were to be overlooked.

Mike Mason

I'm a bit of a latecomer to the Pikmin series, having only played the games for the first time thanks to the New Play Control Wii releases. I enjoyed them, but I get the impression that I'm only really understanding the full appeal of the series now that I'm playing Pikmin 3. It's an adorable micro-adventure that's clearly had a lot of Nintendo's weight thrust behind it, full of lovely little touches, a few great effects and tangible upgrades over the previous entries.

This, to me, signals the beginning of Wii U's comeback. Without a big in-house first-party game released since launch, the system has fallen foul of the sales charts despite the release of titles such as LEGO City Undercover. Pikmin 3 is the first in a slew of titles that can rebuild momentum for the console; the fact that TV and print advertisements for Wii U have resumed alongside its release gives a positive indication that Nintendo is about to give its HD machine the push it deserves.

Tom Whitehead

I'll start off by saying that this is my first Pikmin game, but I know the franchise from various cameos, including my struggles to figure out how to use Captain Olimar effectively in Brawl. I also knew from videos and write-ups what the series was all about, and despite a spectacular failure on a demo last year — I made a fool of myself because I didn't know the controls and had no explanation given to me — I've been excited about its arrival, plonking a pre-order down a while ago. It's possibly also due to my last "retail" game on the system being Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate; it's been a drought, and Game & Wario just didn't appeal to me enough to buy.

Thankfully, my excitement for it doesn't seem to have been misplaced, and I've really enjoyed the 4-5 hours I've put in so far. While the visuals are a treat and it's incredibly cute and charming, the greatest triumph for me is the pacing and level design. As a complete Pikmin n00b, it's felt like a natural learning process, and one where I've learned quickly from my mistakes. There were doubts in my mind about playing with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk and keeping the GamePad relevant, but I actually really like the dynamic of sitting the second screen nearby and occasionally looking across to scan around the map or watch a message. We live in a two-screen society now, where many (including me) check their phone while watching TV and so on, so it feels natural to glance away from the TV to interact with the GamePad.

The exploration and puzzle solving also feels right on the money, with my steady progress not necessarily impressive, but suiting me perfectly. Balancing out searching for a new area and solving puzzles with grabbing fruit supplies is an enjoyable challenge, and I don't mind the fact that the difficulty, to date, isn't too steep. I keep seeing areas I can't access — because I only have the first couple of Pikmin types — and again it feels like excellent balancing, teasing me to come back in the future.

This feels like a game that'd only put together all of these pieces so well on the Wii U, utilising the hardware's control and display options effectively. It's also relaxing and compulsive, both at once, and typifies a perfect Sunday afternoon game; it's shaping up to be my favourite game on the system so far, because it feels impeccably structured. Pikmin 4 in a few years, please.

Martin Watts

I think Pikmin 3 definitely marks the beginning of a new and exciting period for the Wii U, giving us our first glimpse at what Nintendo has in store for us with its core franchises. And, it's fair to say that Pikmin 3 is a most certainly a fantastic start, both visually and in terms of gameplay. Although I personally believe the game to be more of a refinement of previous ideas, rather than a giant evolutionary next step, that's not to say that it still isn't brilliant. I like that Nintendo has managed to create a living, breathing world — teeming with exotic creatures and vast, lushious landscapes — while still ensuring there's still a ton of in-depth gameplay elements. That may seem like a a fairly standard thing to expect from a video game, but it's very rare nowadays that a game actually gets both these things right.

Jamie O'Neill

It was my intention to dabble sparingly in Pikmin 3 this weekend, but two play sessions later that were spread over 20 hours, including exploration distractions, and I impulsively completed its story mode. Pikmin 3 evokes a feeling of my younger days, but the detailed ground level viewpoint of a garden expedition resonates more vividly than a movie like Disney's Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. When I went to bed I could still picture worker ant Pikmin busying themselves in my brain, similar to a snapshot from The Numskulls comic strip in The Dandy. The accuracy of swift Wii Remote pointer controls, complemented by a GamePad map with an invaluable "Go Here!" touchscreen option, compensated for a few unhelpful camera angles. I would have preferred it if the game entrusted the player with more Pikmin types to manage during earlier levels, but a drip-feed of new skills ensures that it is accessible to less experienced gamers.

I was engrossed in the GameCube era, I amassed a decent collection of games, but my knowledge from reading about the original two games in CUBE and NGC magazines does not compare to experiencing my first Pikmin. The atmosphere and attention to detail is expertly realised in HD on Wii U, with butterflies fluttering between flowers, alongside the pitter-patter sound of astronaut feet. I did not expect such style in how it presented its world, not just is in the depiction of PNF-404's environments, but I was impressed by a clever sci-fi juxtaposition between space planet trotters and natural habitats. There is one boss battle that is particularly memorable, as it flexes Wii U's graphical grunt by using environmental physics, and it remarkably manages to reference a cult 1990 American monster movie. You may play Pikmin 3 expecting to be charmed, and you will definitely coo-coo over its adorable disposition, but it could still surprise you at how attentively it has been crafted. I am smiling right now when I think of Captain Charlie's zero gravity floating Rubber Ducky.


So, what do those of you in Europe or Japan think of Pikmin 3? Let us know below and worry not, North American gamers, it's merely days away from landing in local stores.

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User Comments (33)

th3r3ds0x

#1

th3r3ds0x said:

Can't wait to pick up my pre-order on the 4th. So many good games and system releases coming this fall. Gonna be non stop gaming.

SamuraiShyGuy

#3

SamuraiShyGuy said:

I'm excited about the multiplayer. Me and my friend have played hundreds of matches in Pikmin 2's battle mode.

GiftedGimp

#5

GiftedGimp said:

Going against the Norm, (it seems) I've been savouring every moment of my 1st play through of Story Mode. I'm making sure I find every fruit and collectable and exploring as much as possible.
I'm upto day 59 on my incredible slow play through, in part due to mistakes and in part due to the exploration, but I'm on the final area now (I think) and collected everything I can along the way. Once I've done the last area then I'm going to be replaying the story mode, trying to do the tasks quicker with a few Pikmin deaths as possible.

DiSTANToblivion

#9

DiSTANToblivion said:

The game is stunning, much better than I could've hoped for. It's been far too long since my last Pikmin outing and it's safe to say this is the best yet. I have only put about 8 hours into Story mode so far and I can already tell that it's instantly replayable. The Bingo Battle is awesome with a lot of great levels and the tough challenge mode will test you. Just brilliant, it would be a shame if this gets overlooked because it isn't a 'brown shooter'.

element187

#10

element187 said:

I did my preorder at Gamestop for the demo weekend... The rep told me the download code will be posted on my account on 8/2..... so Thursday night at 11:59pm I'll be ready to grab my code and download it off th e-shop immediately ;)

Jazzer94

#12

Jazzer94 said:

I'm having an absolute blast with Pikmin 3, only played an hour of the story mode so far as I don't want to rush through the game too quickly so I have been playing a lot of multiplayer with my sis. I recommend anyone on the fence about the game to give it a shot as the learning curve is balanced nicely with the difficulty.

Frapp

#14

Frapp said:

Got my rear end handed to me by the final boss today before seeing the credits. Still have some fruit to find and co-op and bingo battle to play.
Really hope that we get a fourth game in the next 4 to 5 years and not like the decade wait for Pikmin 3.
Thank you Mr Miyamoto. What a fabulous game.

idork99

#15

idork99 said:

I'm glad to read great things about this game. Also, it's nice to hear good news about the Wii U.

I played the original on the GameCube. And although the game looked and played great, I found out that it wasn't my type of game. Perhaps I'll have the opportunity to play this game in the future as I most likely will not own a Wii U until MK8 arrives.

Shambo

#16

Shambo said:

This game is perfect. Gotta go now, my Pikmin are awaiting me to put the gamepad I write this on to tactical use!

Wildfire

#17

Wildfire said:

I intended to play Pikmin 3 only after finishing Earthbound but articles like this are making it dificult to resist! :D

chibichibi

#18

chibichibi said:

@GiftedGimp
It seems clear to me that the point of Pikmin is to try and be as efficient as possible rather that simply get to the end. I planned to take that approach but then decided to get to the end first then go back and play the game as it should be played. The game pushes you down that path somewhat due to the way it's set up and I reached a point where I thought it'd be easier to go forwards rather than back.

PinkSpider

#19

PinkSpider said:

This game is stunning, somehow i feel theres not enough love for the graphics
I would love to have a comparison from other games for the effects.
The water and fire effects are simply incredible. The lighting is stunning. Its a real triumph for Nintendo and I may even say its the nicest looking game I have played on current consoles. It also slightly reminds me of The Tech Demo of the Bird that Nintendo showed a while back

GiftedGimp

#21

GiftedGimp said:

@chibichibi Yeh the point is to be efficient, but although it directs you to what needs to be done, once you've got the required Pikmin type to access area's then your almost always given to choice of what you want to do & what area to land at.
I like to 100% games, so On my first play through I am spending time, experimenting and exploring but that doesn't mean anyone playing the game purly following the direction the game leads you in is wrong, same for the way I'm playing it.
Thats one of the things that adds to playability and replayability, Play straight through, or Try to collect everything on first run though then on other play throughs you can play with the intention to complete the game quicker and also chose wether you try to do so whilst collecting everything again or not bothering and just following the suggested route through the game. I'm the 100% type of person but as I say its upto the individual and thats great.
On a side note, and not to give any spoilers to anyone avoiding Miiverse etc but given the New Miiverse Announcment I'm quite happy I've spent time to look for the collectables, and the experiences and practice should mean I'll be able to tackle the bosses and puzzles and generally work through future play throughs more efficiently.

chibichibi

#22

chibichibi said:

@GiftedGimp Yes you have the choice of where to land but it's clear which way is forward but you don't have to chose it. Going slow isn't wrong, I agree but if someone gets to the "end" and stops playing they've missed the point. It's like winning the last 50cc race on Mario Kart and saying you've finished the game or rescuing Peach on NSMBU

chibichibi

#23

chibichibi said:

I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed the similarities to that nameless 90's film. Not sure it was a reference but I thought it was cool.

TreesenHauser

#26

TreesenHauser said:

I'll be picking this up Sunday when it finally releases here. Having played the first entry on both GameCube and Wii but only playing the Wii edition of Pikmin 2, I was disappointed by Pikmin 3's initial delays, so I'm stoked it's finally here! The graphics look amazing, and I love that I'll be able to use the Wii remote/nunchuck combination with it. Add in GamePad functionality and it looks like this game will be keeping me busy for a while! And then I can look forward to the rest of the year. :D

C-Olimar

#27

C-Olimar said:

"The Numskulls comic strip in The Dandy."
Numskulls was in the Beano, right? And before that it was in the Beezer. Or maybe it was the Topper. Or was it Ivy the Terrible who was in the Topper first?
OK, I have no idea now. The Numskulls were in the Beano; that's all I'm sure on!

C-Olimar

#28

C-Olimar said:

Clarification: Numskulls first appeared in the Beezer, then when that merged with the Topper it was in 'the Beezer and Topper' for several months, then moved on to the Beano.
Then in 2012 it appeared in the new digital version of the Dandy.

Also, the character from the Topper was Beryl the Peril, not Ivy.

sinalefa

#29

sinalefa said:

Buying this on the 4th, will take about ten days to arrive, so I will be getting this and Ducktales Remastered at around the same time. And I should add that I am absolutely dying to get both games.

Glad to hear the impressions are so positive for everyone. I actually find hard to believe that people may dislike Pikmin. Its cute world really sucks you in and wins you over.

TheBulbminStaff

#30

TheBulbmin said:

Goodness gracious I don't know how I'll be able to tolerate waiting the next five days.

chiptoon

#31

chiptoon said:

I had a whole weekend cleared to enjoy the game, but It seems that Nintendo South Africa only bothered to bring about 10 copies into the country. After my preorder was not filled I shopped around and could not find a single copy anywhere in Cape Town.

I shouldn't be surprised. Its pretty standard non-delivery from Nintendo SA. Still pretty disappointing.

JamieOStaff

#32

JamieO said:

@C-Olimar Like any lad growing up in the 1980s I often read the Beano, more than the Dandy, although I must admit that I don't have a massive amount of knowledge regarding the exact contents of my old comics today. The reason I mentioned the Dandy was as a direct nod to my childhood, I was deliberately recalling an annual called 'The Dandy Book 1984', because I remember how pleased I was to receive it as a present. It had a red cover, which showed Bully Beef aiming a water pistol at Korky the Cat, who had his foot on a football.

At this point my memories could have become mixed up, especially as I no longer have the annual to hand, but I have a recollection of The Numskulls appearing in that specific book. Is it possible that The Numskulls appeared in my 1984 Dandy annual as a guest comic strip, as a group of little visitors from the Beezer? Sorry if I have confused two sets of memories, I may have merged my nostalgia of 1980s comics with one particular Dandy book.

The point I intended to make is that there is a sense of innocence in Pikmin 3, which is most obviously displayed in the actions of the Pikmin, and this trait is expanded through the conversations between the game's space explorers. Therefore, the depiction of characters in the game, as well as the way it unravels a world that is larger than life, viewed through a camera that places the tiny heroes in the thick of nature's majesty, all combined to remind me of being a kid.

I was also taking into account that there have been reports in the past about how Shigeru Miyamoto has been influenced by his childhood experiences, as well as his enjoyment of gardening, so this may reflect upon some aspects of Miyamoto's game development, especially as he worked as producer on Pikmin 3.

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