Pikmin

Pikmin
Pikmin Cover
Platform GameCube
Genre Minified Backyard RTS
Score 8  Clock score of 8Gameplay: 8
Fun Factor: 8
Gfx/Sound: 9
Story: 7
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Pikmin is the brainchild of Shigeru Miyamoto, released for the GameCube in 2001. It's a real-time strategy game starring a horde of plant creatures and a tiny space traveler. You control Captain Olimar directly, leading around the mini pikmin that come in three different colors. The goal is to collect 30 ship parts in 30 days. Now I am generally annoyed by timed games, but I finished it on about my 20th day with every piece, so don't feel rushed for time. The pikmin serve as Olimar's willing slaves as they carry each piece back to his ship while sacrificing their lives in front of giant ladybugs and fire breathing snouts. It's kind of sad when you think about it. Well, can't dawdle on that too much. Pikmin 2 was also released for the GameCube and Pikmin 3 is announced for the Wii. Olimar rolls on with his minions in tow.

All scores are out of 10.

Scores

Gameplay: 8
For a real-time strategy game on a console, Pikmin does a pretty good job standing on its own. Since you control Olimar directly instead of some abstract camera, you stay focused on what's going on but managing multiple units of groups is pretty much thrown out the window. My friend would call this "console noobifying" but I call it adapting to your premises. You can have as many as 100 pikmin out on the field at a time, which seems kind of limiting when I compare it to games like Rise of Nations where I had seemingly much larger groups, but controlling that many might really get out of hand. Pikmin is really part adventure/puzzle game too as you sometimes have to guide your pikmin by a steep cliff edge while avoiding fire while also carrying a ship part back to homebase. This is no simple task and something not seen often in traditional RTS's.

As I said in the introduction, the 30 day time limit isn't that big of deal, but the daily time limit is. You have from dawn to dusk each day, when the sun sets, any pikmin not in your control but still out on the field are lost forever. Not a huge deal, but there's a sad scene where you see them get eaten or squashed by the local wildlife. Oftentimes the clock (annoyingly) ticks down to sunset and you're out scrambling to find your last yellow Pikmin halfway across the map. It really makes you care for them. But then five minutes later you're tossing them at a giant clam that will eat them if you don't call them back in time with your whistle... so I guess it all balances out in the end.

Fun Factor: 8
I got my copy of Pikmin back when it first came out, all the way back in late 2001. I beat the game for the first time in late 2008, so seven years later. I had two different experiences playing it though, first time I just got bored and couldn't bring myself to finish it. Second time though, I had a ton of fun and breezed through it in a couple of days. Not sure why this discrepency occurred, but for 24 year old me, Pikmin was a blast. Bringing back every single one of those 30 ship parts was satisfying in its own right and taking down the final boss was an actual challenge. Solving the obscure pikmin puzzles was also interesting, though some were quite tedious. One in particular comes to mind where I had to guide a bunch of blue pikmin over the water (blues are the only color that won't drown) and then convert them to yellow pikmin on an island, where I would then toss them to higher ground (you can throw yellow pikmin higher) to get a ship piece, then bring them back down to my level where I would convert them back into blue pikmin so they could walk back over the water with the piece. I'm exhausted just thinkinga about it.

Graphics and Sound: 9
Large enemies and large environments highlight the graphics of Pikmin. Nintendo really took advantage of their hardware within the first few months of the GameCube's launch, and the game shines. It feels like you're in your Grandma's country backyard, exploring the grass and streams, pardon the pun, but it's all completely natural. As for the music, I can't really pick anything out, sometimes that's a good thing though, as there was nothing atrocious. And like I said in my first hour review, I enjoyed the pikmins' little "hut-hut-hut" sound effect that they made.

Story: 7
The actual story is a bit mundane: Olimar crashes his ship and needs the pikmin's help to put it back together, blah blah blah. But at the end of every day, our Captain leaves us with a little tidbit about the mysterious planet, the tiny pikmin, or his own life and family back at home. It's these little moments that make up for a lot. I have to hand it to Nintendo: thank you for not bogging down the gameplay with a deeper, crappier story (like say... Twilight Princess).

Overall: 8
Don't know why it took me seven years to beat this game, but shame on me. Pikmin is a very good game in a genre that is hardly ever successful with a controller in hand. Nintendo took a risk, and it paid off. It features a ton of moments where you just look back and smile at what you just accomplished, but it's still challenging enough to work your mind and hands. Great game, give it a try if you have a GameCube or Wii.

Pikmin Captain Olimar Plucking Blue Art