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Pikmin 3 Review

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On 08/24/2013 at 12:00 PM by Nick DiMola

Finally, something worth playing on the Wii U!

For everyone.

Five years ago, in a small room at E3, Miyamoto let slip that Nintendo was developing another Pikmin title. The excitement he expressed in doing so was tangible and the reveal was seemingly unplanned, but it was clear that producing the game was something special for the father of modern gaming. The final product is beautiful, well-designed, and immensely entertaining – a true testament to Miyamoto's love for the series. However, it also shows clear signs of being rushed to market despite its extended development cycle, which is an unfortunate mark against such a fantastic game.

Pikmin 3’s set-up is laced with all the charm we’ve come to expect from the series. Like the previous explorers, Captain Olimar and sidekick Louie, a brand new group has made its way to a foreign planet in search of resources. Unlike the Hocotatians who were merely in search of treasure, the three new astronauts, Charlie, Alph, and Brittany from Koppai, are in search of food for their soon-to-starve planet. Upon entering the atmosphere of PN-404, the resource-rich destination planet, their ship experiences a malfunction, flinging the crew from the craft and displacing the Cosmic Drive Key in the process.

Very quickly, each member of the crew encounters the native Pikmin creatures and begins leveraging their capabilities to accomplish all manner of feats.  The primary objective, beyond retrieving the Cosmic Drive Key to repair the ship, is to collect fruit to convert to juice and bring it back to Koppai. The juice collected must also sustain the crew during their time on the planet, which will result in consumption of one canister at the conclusion of each day.

For those familiar with the series, Pikmin 3 strikes a nice balance between the hectic, time restrictive adventure found in the original game and the more open, carefree exploration offered by Pikmin 2. Most gamers will have an abundance of juice at the end of their quest, so there’s very little pressure to constantly collect fruit. Conversely, you can’t be completely ignorant of your dwindling stash and must allocate certain days for exclusively collecting an ample supply.

Regardless of your views on the previous games, it’s clear that Pikmin 3 is the most mechanically polished of them all. Controlling all of the Pikmin is a dream using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. It’s extremely easy to direct them on the field and switching between each type and giving them precision commands is easier than ever. Furthermore, Nintendo has rounded out the Pikmin with two brand new additions that really change the way you play the game.

As a result of adding the rock and flying Pikmin, there’s now a much more distinct relationship between enemies and the type of Pikmin used to defeat them. Traditionally, for airborne enemies yellow Pikmin were the best choice as they could be thrown the highest. Obviously the flying Pikmin are now the ideal contender in such an encounter and do significantly more damage as a result. This allows you to approach each encounter in a much more strategic way rather than using droves of Pikmin to brute force your way to victory.

Boss encounters require similar finesse and each one has an apparent winning strategy that requires some degree of observation to determine. The game’s subtle tutorial system will help you along if you’re struggling, but typically speaking you’ll figure it all out just before you receive your prompt. That being said, the tutorial system is fairly ingenious. Rather than bombarding you with mandatory actions, the information is contained in little collectable files that are scattered and hidden throughout the landscape. These files also double as story vignettes or reports that flesh out the game’s narrative.

Pikmin 3’s level design and puzzles are much better layered than ever before. While each area in the game is an enormous open world, you slowly unlock all of the different subsections through progressive exploration and puzzle solving. Some segments require Pikmin types that aren’t found until later in the game, forcing you into new levels only to return later and experience an entirely new section at a later point.

Towards the end of the game, the developer's rush to completion begins to become apparent. Shortly after rounding out your crew of Pikmin types, the final level is unlocked. While this area is an adequate conclusion to the game, I can’t help but feel like there’s some content missing both before and after its occurrence. Furthermore, the level marks a point of no return (which was not explained by the game). If you choose to fight the final boss and haven’t collected all of the fruit in the game, you’re forced to turn back the clock after running through the ending credits.

Pikmin 2’s post-game may have spoiled me, but it was upsetting to be forced back through that entire endeavor just to experience the parts of the game I had missed. Don’t get me wrong, Pikmin 3 is not a short game and there’s close to twenty hours of gameplay here, but it seems quite clear that content was left on the cutting room floor to get the game out the door.

Outside of the game’s Story Mode, players will be glad to find some additional content, specifically a Mission Mode and Bingo Battle Mode. The former can be enjoyed alone or with a friend co-operatively. I can’t stress enough just how much fun this game is co-operatively. As a matter of fact, it’s an absolute shame that Nintendo didn’t include such functionality in the Story Mode. Other than being much more efficient, building strategy together is both iterative and extremely redeeming.

The missions themselves are all timed affairs and will have players either collecting all of the fruit in the level, disposing of all the enemies, or crushing one of the bosses. Scores, medals, and online leaderboards extend the life of this mode. It's tougher than anything encountered in the main game, which makes it perfect for experts looking for more.

Bingo Battle also proves to be quite fun. Laid out on the board are a number of different collectable items and assigned to each player is a bingo board that contains these items. Filling out the missing spaces are simple enemies that are in plentiful supply. As such, players must focus not only on collecting items to form a row and get Bingo, but also on grabbing items their opponent might need to block a row they’re building. While somewhat complicated, the mode is extremely entertaining in practice. Unfortunately, if you don't have a friend or family member in the house, you're not going to have the opportunity to enjoy this mode. Pikmin 3 offers no online play, which is a missed opportunity.

Despite some of my disappointment surrounding the abrupt end to the Story Mode, Pikmin 3 is why I bought a Wii U and this game makes it worth every single dollar. You may have never considered playing a Pikmin game before, but I promise it’s the best reason to own a Wii U right now.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Joaquim Mira Media Manager

08/24/2013 at 04:08 PM

The rock pikmin... ROCK!


08/26/2013 at 11:46 AM

Since I had never played a Pikmin game before, would you recommend the games to newbies of the series?

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

08/27/2013 at 11:29 AM

I would if you are ready to play a hybrid RTS-Puzzle game. Then again who was when the first game came out on the GC. It has it's unique take on RTS gameplay mechanics, and yet it has a fun factor from exploring and puzzle solving.

Nick DiMola Director

08/30/2013 at 10:12 AM

If you couldn't tell from my gushing review and avatar, I really like Pikmin. It's a great series with a ton of personality. If you have a Wii, you might want to check out the New Play Control versions of 1 and 2. They are infinitely better with the Wii Remote, just like this one.

So yes, I definitely recommend you check out something in the series. 3 is probably the most polished from a gameplay perspective, but like I mentioned, it feels a bit rushed at the end.


09/01/2013 at 12:27 PM

It's my reason to get a Wii-U as well. Maybe soon.

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