Pikmin Cover
Platform GameCube
Genre Garden Fun Real-time Strategy
MtAMinutes to Action 3
Score 8  Clock score of 8Gameplay: 8
Fun Factor: 7
Gfx/Sound: 9
Story: 6
Buy from Amazon

Pikmin is a GameCube real-time strategy game set in what could be someone's backyard and featuring a large cast of inch tall plant creatures (and you thought it couldn't get weirder after last week's Katamari Damacy). Basically, our hero is Captain Olimar, a space traveler who gets stranded on the Pikmin planet. His ship is in thirty pieces and scattered across a few different levels, but Olimar only has enough life support to last thirty days. The only way he's going to get off in time is to recruit the Pikmin's help in gathering his ship parts back together. And thus, our story begins.

Pikmin did pretty well and received a sequel a few years later. Nintendo also recently announced Pikmin 3 for the Wii, so the series will keep on growing. Pikmin originally caught my eye because it was Nintendo's first original series for the Gamecube (well, if you don't count Luigi's Mansion) and was straight from the mind of Shigeru Miyamoto. Well, let's play the first hour of Pikmin.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select Start and Pikmin begins. A sea of stars is above us, but a starship descends with a big nosed guy driving it. It looks like a Pokeball on the front of his ship. Oh no, he collides with an asteroid and starts careening towards a planet.

01 - His ship breaks apart into a bunch of pieces. "Impact Site." The little guy wakes up and sees his broken down ship. "My name is Captain Olimar... my beloved Dolphin is a painful sight. The engine is gone. I'm stranded." That sums it up nicely.

02 - More bad news, the atmosphere here is poisonous to the captain so he only has 30 days of life support! He must find his missing ship parts. I get control. I run up to his ship and press A, there are thirty parts to find. Just one more part will increase its capabilities though.

Pikmin Yellow Solo

03 - I approach some red tea kettle but as I get close, it pops out of the ground and grows three legs! Then it drops a seed, Olimar calls it an Onion. I punch this strange red flower that says "1" a few times and it drops a pill of some sort. Can't pick it up though.

05 - The graphics are green and lush, looks pretty. Oh, the little seed has sprouted. I approach it. I pluck it out of the ground and a little red Pikmin appears! It's a living creature, interesting.

06 - Olimar, still talking with himself he will grab and throw with A, call with B, and maybe it will react to C and X as well. The little red Pikmin picks up the red pill thing and brings it to the onion. Two more seeds pop out!

Pikmin Olimar Red Grass

07 - I pick them out of the ground then tell them to grab the other pill, two more appear. I now have a team of five red Pikmin following me.

09 - I find a large pill with five written on it and order my Pikmin to bring it to the Onion. Five more sprout making a team of 10!

10 - Another one pill is hiding in the bushes. The B button makes Olimar blow his whistle and grab the attention of every Pikmin within a circle. The C-stick kind of moves the Pikmin following me in formation.

Pikmin Olimar Pushing Box

11 - Twelve Pikmin now, I find a box with 10 written on it and my buddies/slaves push it out of the way. Olimar realizes the Pikmin might be able to help save his ship.

13 - Right past the box is a ship part! Wow, it's the engine, how convenient. I order my Pikmin to grab it, but I need 20 total.

14 - Past the engine is a bunch more Pikmin pills, I order my troop to carry them back to the Onion. To reach one, I have to toss my Pikmin to it as I can't walk up to it myself.

Pikmin Olimar Picking Sprouts

15 - Olimar gives me a tip: when there are a bunch of Pikmin sprouts, just keep tapping A to pick them all up quickly. That should help. I now have 23 Pikmin! Enough to get the engine.

16 - All 23 are carrying it now, even though they only needed 20. They are moving pretty slow though. But they make it and the engine gets sucked into the ship! One down, twenty-nine to go! Olimar decides to take the night off as he heads to his ship and the Pikmin to their Onion.

18 - For some reason he decided to take off, and the Onion is following! This is a brave guy! I'm shown a graph of the Pikmin population. The world map is shown, we're flying to the Forest of Hope.

Pikmin Destroying Wall

19 - The ship and the Onion land, I stand under the Onion and get the 23 Pikmin out.

20 - Interesting, a yellow flower, it still makes red Pikmin though.

22 - There's also a grass that matures my Pikmin by growing flowers on their head. Odd. 26 Pikmin in tow, we head towards a wall that looks like it can be broken down. The Pikmin bang at it for about a minute but it falls.

Pikmin Bulborb Ladybug Fight

23 - We're beyond the wall now, there's some sort of ladybug creature hanging out. Maybe he's food. We surround him and beat him down, four Pikmin carry his carcass back to the Onion.

25 - After taking down another bug and bringing some pills back, I have 45 total Pikmin. I also saw a rather large ladybug out there, looks like a challenge.

27 - Before that, I strengthen up even more, but then the clock strikes noon. Guess I'll have to manage time a bit better.

Pikmin Carrying Dead Bulborb

28 - I now have 77 red Pikmin! Wow.

29 - I herd my troops against the large ladybug, he manages to take out three of us in the process but we get him in the end. Carrying him back now. And there's an engine part! It's the Eternal Fuel Dynamo. This one takes 40 to carry back, plenty to spare.

31 - The fuel part gets sucked into my ship, that's two of thirty parts.

Pikmin Carrying Spaceship Part

32 - The level keeps going, guess until it is night time. I find another wall to be demolished with some big ladybugs on the other side.

34 - Oh, now check this out! It's a yellow Onion! I now have one yellow Pikmin. Cool. Does it do anything else though?

35 - Lame, you can't have more than 100 Pikmin out at one time.

Pikmin Tons Of Pikmin Red Blue Yellow

36 - Oh oh, it's almost night and I have to get my Pikmin back to their Onion or they will be lost forever!

38 - I high tail it back to the red Onion with my 99 red Pikmin in tow and cram them back in. But wait, the yellow Pikmin won't go in there! I run as fast as I can back as the clock counts down... I put him in there but he didn't make it there physically. Did it count?

39 - The count says I left behind one, how sad.

Pikmin Carrying Stuff Back To Onion

40 - Day three now, I return back to the Forest of Hope even though I have the option of going to the first place again.

42 - I pull out all the yellow Pikmin I created last time and then max out the red. Time to head out!

43 - First things first, I order my Pikmin to unroll a stick bridge. Doesn't look like there's much on the other side though. Oh no, I just killed a bunch of Pikmin when they fell in the water. They're like Lemmings, poor guys.

Pikmin Stick Bridge

44 - Dang, I lost 12 in the water, I have to be more careful.

46 - Ugh, my stupid Pikmin chased a bug into the water and they nearly all died. I was somehow able to call them back though, still lost 15. Wow.

47 - My yellow Pikmin have picked up some small stones, the game hints that they're bombs.

Pikmin Yellow Bombs Barrel

48 - Yep, they're bombs, I toss the Pikmin that are holding them at a wall and they take it down. Whoops, some of the red Pikmin got caught in the explosion. My bad.

50 - Geez, some kind of exploding beetle emerged from the ground and killed like 20 Pikmin.

51 - Turns out it wasn't an exploding bug but a stupid yellow Pikmin that decided to use his bomb in the middle of a large battle.

Pikmin Burrowing Snagret Enemy

53 - I refresh my Pikmin supply and head back out. Think I need more bombs though.

56 - I find another part to my ship, the radar.

58 - Sadly, I don't have enough time to bring it all the way back to the ship. I wonder if it will be in the same spot tomorrow?

Pikmin Giant Blue Pill

59 - I ended up leaving some Pikmin behind, as we took off, the giant ladybugs came and ate them up. How pathetically sad!

60 - I ended up losing 43 in battle, I think half of that must have been drowning and the other half to a friendly bomb. Well, I didn't get any parts that day, but I close to one and I could actually see another behind a bomb wall. But that's the end of the first hour of Pikmin!

Time for some scores out of 10.

Pikmin Armored Cannon Beetle

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 3

Gameplay: 8
Typically, when developers try to do real-time strategy games on consoles, they pretty much do a direct port from a PC game. This almost always fails horribly. Really horribly. Pikmin was designed with the console in mind from the ground up though, so Nintendo always knew it would control with a thumbstick instead of a mouse, and there wouldn't be a keyboard available for shortcut keys. This means we have what is probably considered a dumb downed RTS by many PC gamers, but I think it plays great. Using Olimar as the central focus means you don't get lost while scrolling around the map, and the defocus on collecting resources means things are a lot more fast paced. It would be nice if you could have more than 100 pikmin out at a time though, guess there have to be limits somewhere though.

Fun Factor: 7
Simple but deep gameplay tends to be pretty fun, and Pikmin is no exception. Though sometimes it feels a bit too simple, you basically just build up a massive army of pikmins and then throw the entire horde at enemies. The only times I really lost pikmin was my own fault, such as blowing them up with their own bombs or drowning them on accident. Hopefully the game can balance challenge and fun well, but it is Nintendo, don't think I should doubt them too much.

Graphics and Sound: 9
Lush and well detailed environments, funny sound effects, and lots of stuff on the screen at once. Those are Pikmin's strong points and they do it very well. The game's graphics definitely help the gameplay out as pikmin and enemies are very easy to pick out and there's never really a question in "what the heck is that" that plagues so many real-time strategy games. Pikmin is classic Miyamoto in this aspect. The music is subtle but it does the job, and like I said before, the sound effects are very good. Pikmin "hut-hut-hut" around and the exaggerated sounds serve things well. It would have been nice if the giant enemies gave a roar or two, but I suppose they are just giant ladybugs.

Story: 6
It's all a bit contrived, but the game doesn't waste any time with the story. Olimar immediately crashes on the planet and you get right to work putting his ship back together. Pikmin never dilly-dallies on anything boring, but this is never really an issue with RTS games that I've played. This won't affect the final score much.

Overall: 8
Nintendo doesn't mess up very often, and Pikmin is another first hour success. I'm guessing that this game was a pretty big risk, maybe not as big if Miyamoto hadn't been on board, but how many people would have wanted to play a garden real-time strategy game before this? It's unique and quirky and I honestly want to keep playing! I've owned this game forever and never got around to finishing it. Maybe this is what will get me to finally tackle the whole game. First hours can do that, and that's why they're so important.

Pikmin Captain Olimar Red Blue Yellow