(C) 2001, Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EAD
US release: December 2, 2001
JP release: October 26, 2001
EU release: June 14, 2002
Genre: 3D Real Time Strategy
While Captain Olimar, a tiny extraterrestrial from the planet Hocotate, was taking an intergalactic vacation in outer space with his spaceship, the S.S. Dolphin, the spaceship later gets hit by a comet ! and then he crashed on a nearby planet. And now Captain Olimar, being stuck on a planet that contains a deadly element for his kind, must retrieve many of the spaceship parts so that he can rebuild his spaceship and return to Hocotate in 30 days before his life support systems run out !... and he does this with the help of some strange creatures that Captain Olimar named them "pikmin"...
The story, first of all, is very simple, since most of the time is very focused on gameplay, however there are some moments where some story information is being brought up when you find a certain ship's part, in which Olimar will narrate a certain memory or a fact about himself that details the life of him and his family somewhat, and then there's also the end of the day diary records that Olimar writes when a day is over and he narrates about his new discoveries about the planet and even some more memories of his home planet, and the whole way it's being handled is not only well, but it also has a great narration and the quality of Olimar's character development is good enough to keep myself interested in what will he write on his diary record when a day ends, the pikmin and the other creatures of this planet don't have the same development, but it's a native planet that Olimar's in so that's excusable.
But not only that, but the game also includes 3 ending as well ! the good ending, in which it was pretty great in a feel-good way ! the regular ending which was not bad, just very simple and nothing else (but it's ok for this kind of ending though) and the bad ending in which... it made me depressed to be honest... each of these endings do its job well for their own type and the whole story in this game is pretty great, even if it only had some tidbits of it throughout the game !
Pikmin is a 3D real time strategy game where it's main objective is to locate all of Captain Olimar's space ship parts in which are 30 (where 25 are only mandatory while the other 5 are not that important), but only in 30 days, and you do this with the help of the pikmin to overcome some obstacles that are in his way. You start out in a simple (but kind of text heavy) tutorial, pikmin will always follow Captain Olimar but when you dismiss and leave one behind, they will turn pale indicating that it's not following Olimar, the controls are pretty unique for a console strategy game, you can grab and hold a pikmin by holding the A button then release it to throw it, you can call the pale pikmin or pikmin with the B button that are busy so that they can follow you again. dismiss them with the X button so that they don't follow you anymore, and make them march and go only in one direction depending on what direction you are holding with the C Stick, Olimar also has a cursor that points where Olimar is facing and where will he throw the pikmin in and you can control it with the control stick, in which it also makes Captain Olimar move. You also have a very handy map that you can bring up with the Y button that indicates where you are, where the pikmins are, and even where the ship's parts are (but ONLY if you retrieve a certain ship part you can use this feature though...) ! some issues I had with the controls is that controlling the camera needed a little bit of work, but as it is, it's not that bad and everything controls very smoothly !
The main hub is on a menu where you choose a place to land that also has a star meter indicating how much of the ship's parts are there and how many have you collected. Every time you start a level, you will be in the main area where your ship and the pikmin's transport, named an "Onion", are only located there, you can set an amount of pikmin to follow you by standing in the light of the Onion and then you will be presented with a mini menu where you can set how many pikmin do you want to have. In certain areas in a certain level, you can find other types of pikmin by locating their Onion, there's only three type of pikmin the game in which are:
- Red Pikmin: these are the basic type, they're more powerful than the other two types and they are also resistant to fire
- Yellow Pikmin: they can be thrown higher than the other two and they can also carry explosives called "bomb rocks" that can be found inside a can in a certain area, in which they can blow walls and hurt other enemies with great damage
- Blue Pikmin: they can survive in water unlike the other types... and that's it
And throughout the game, you must use these pikmin responsibly since each of its advantages can overcome some of the obstacles that are present in the game, such as defeating enemies by throwing at them or by another battle tactic in certain enemies, carrying objects and defeated enemies and breaking down walls with bomb rocks, just so for collecting a ship's part and bringing it to the ship to include it and fix the ship slightly, however easier said than done, some parts might be simple to collect, but there's also some parts where it might be too risky and kind of hard to not lose pikmin to collect, and what's more is that you have a time limit, the time in this game is divided into 30 days, with the exception of the first day, all days in the game are about 13 minutes in length and when it's fully nighttime it's the end of the day, and all pikmin should be immediately rounded up, work halted, none forgotten and Olimar must return with either the pikmin to the ship or inside their Onions, if you don't gather them all and leave some behind, many of the creatures which inhabit the pikmin's planet eat all of pikmin left behind on the surface after the sun sets, making you lose them and never get them back again... and not only that, but Olimar can be damaged too ! he has a health meter, and if it reaches zero, the day forcefully ends and goes off with the ship and the Onions, leaving behind any pikmin out in the field behind him ! and the only way to recover health is to examine the ship by stepping on its circle ray and then pressing the A button, there are no items in the levels that recover his health anywhere, so you must be careful not only with the pikmin, but yourself as well...
In some of the game's levels, you will encounter many enemies, and some of them require you to defeat them in a certain tactic rather than just send the pikmin right into them, you have to throw them behind them, you squash them by landing a pikmin on it, use yellow pikmin on taller enemies, etc. there aren't that many of them, but it gets more difficult in the later levels due to how stronger and how frequent they are ! and then there are the obstacles like for example there's a white wall that you must lower down by using a certain amount of bomb rocks and a white sticks wall where you send the pikmin in order to take it down in a certain amount of time depending on the amount of pikmin that are knocking it down, but there are also a black colored version of these wall that will require you more rock bombs and more time respectively to knock it down ! there's also some objects that will help you in some way, like a bunch of twigs where the pikmin can build them to make a pole where they can climb it and reach to the other end of the stick, reaching to another area, and the stick bridges where pikmin will build a bridge from some sticks laying in a certain area where it will take them time to create it. Each of the levels in the game is designed like some sort of a puzzler where you must think on how to reach a ship's part by overcoming the enemies, obstacles, etc. making this game very well designed for a strategy game, and also somewhat difficult for most who will play the game for the first time without some help !
As for the pikmin, their leafs on their head can actually change to a flower and a bud and these can affect the pikmin's running speed, in which the ones with the flower are more faster while the ones with the leaf are more slower, you can make flower pikmins by making the leaf pikmin or bud pikmins eat a nectar that came from pulling out grass, rocks, etc. but let's not also forget that when the pikmin are knocked down while on battle, they can decrease their flower to a bud, in which it is the only way to have bud pikmins. They are pretty well known for carrying things, they can carry and object and then a meter, with two numbers below and upward a line, appears that indicates how many pikmin are carrying it (the number upward the line) and the amount of how much you need to carry it (the number below the line), but you can also overpass the amount of required pikmin to carry the objects by making more pikmin carry the object in which it makes the pikmin go faster to their Onion or spaceship. You can gain more pikmin if you make the pikmin to bring pellets, that the environment will have or enemies drop, or defeated enemies to their Onion, so that the Onion will produce the pikmin seeds and then you must pluck them out when they are ready where they have their leafs on their heads risen up, but you must have a type of pikmin in order for them to carry it to their designated Onion (for example, the blue pikmin must carry the pellet to their blue Onion if you want more and only blue pikmin), you can also lose pikmin either from a battle where they are eaten, squashed, etc. or by leaving them behind when it's the end of the day, and another thing is you can only have 100 pikmin at the field and no more, so you must pick how much of a certain type of pikmin you must use so you must think which pikmin will benefit you more in a certain situation. One problem some people will have with the pikmin is that their AI might be troublesome for them if they're not careful or they're not paying whole attention, for example they will do some things on their own even though you didn't order them to do so, so it can get annoying when it happens, and it can frustratingly slow the game down.
The game might be difficult for those who aren't familiar or are not good with strategy games, and it might be somewhat easy and kind of short for strategy game veterans in the first levels in the game, but I did had fun with this game ! it's very well designed and it has a simple to learn, hard to master vibe in the whole gameplay, while I had some issues with the controls and I do think that the time limit seems a bit forced as well as other problems, I've still enjoyed the game for what it is !
The graphics to be honest do look good, I mean sure, the skin and texture haven't aged well these days, but there are some elements in it that still look great, like the water, it looks great even to this day ! the lightning does an impressive job on transitioning from morning to night, it looks great and doesn't look unnatural in the slightest, and the whole positioning overall is really impressive ! there were some moments however where the game, in the mornings, has some sort of filter where it looks a bit blurry, it was supposed to replicate on how you wake up and have blurry vision in the mornings, it wasn't too bothersome but it doesn't look appropriate... and the character and creatures models look a little outdated, but they still hold up well enough, and I didn't noticed lag in there, despite this game allowing you to have a great amount of pikmin in there !
Music and Sound
The soundtrack was quite amazing ! it has some sort of tones for its environment depending on the atmosphere, be it a happy calm tone in the mysterious forest, a small country folk sample in a shallow place, and a calm relaxing tone in a pretty spring, and they can change the tone of the song when you encounter an enemy or when it's starting nighttime, they don't feel that they don't belong in these atmospheres, but it's really good for its own ! it's definitely one of my favorites in videogame soundtracks !
The sounds can be cutesy and simple like how the pikmin sounds but they can be grating in some moments where it's respectively frequent, but there are also some others where they can be good but needed a little more of impact, like the explosion that the bomb rocks make or when the pikmin hit an enemy, the whole sounds overall are all good for this game, and there's no voice acting in it whatsoever, just text, and a lot of it !... unless you count the pikmin sounds, they sound appropriate and so do the enemies !
The game obviously has some inspiration when it comes to the environments, since the whole atmosphere that Olimar is in makes him very tiny, in a world of forests and nature, full of plants and other objects like sticks, puddles and even empty cans and monster skulls ! and not to mention that there are also other creatures in there that makes the whole place look lively, the atmosphere in this whole game feels very unique and mysterious, but also familiar and inspiring. There's even a theory that says that the world that Olimar is in is actually our planet, Earth ! in which it’s in a post-apocalyptic time in our world where all the humans in the whole world have extinct... while that sounds interesting, it sounds unlikely, since there's not enough proof that insists that it takes place on Earth, aside from the empty cans.
As for the replayability, there's not much in the ways of content, but it can give you more playtime if you want, there's a challenge mode that you can unlock by beating the game, and in this mode, you can replay any level of the game, but this time your goal is to raise as much pikmin as you can in one day ! the levels are designed differently so that it focuses more on quickly raising your pikmin, and then when the challenge is over, it will go up in the rankings that shows your record. And lastly there's the three endings that you can unlock, the good ending must be unlocked by getting all of the spaceship parts, including the non-important ones, then in the regular ending you must get all of the spaceship parts EXCEPT the non-important ones, and then ending the 30th day as such, and finally there's the bad ending, in which you don't collect enough spaceship parts and end the 30th day. And that's about it for replayability, it may not be much for most people, but it can be a decent way to pass some time.
I did enjoy this game, aside from a few problems I had with it like some small camera issue, the AI of the pikmin that can wear off sometimes, and others, I still thought that this was a really well made strategy game, it made you think, makes you responsible of your actions, and made you teach to be very careful by doing said actions, just like a strategy game should be ! not to mention that everything else like the music, the story, and the presentation are also very good too ! so if you want a short, easy to learn, hard to master experience in a strategy game on a home console, then get it ! if you are worried about the issues that I've mentioned or worried about the time limit in this game or you're questioning about the difficulty of this game, then give this one a rent, but if you don't like time-based games or hate anything that makes a strategy game itself or you're a veteran on strategy games and hate short games and/or easy to learn games, then skip it, as for me this game gets...
8- Great This is a great game that might have a few flaws or could have been better, but is still a game we highly recommend!
Last edited by Jnes5 on Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:47 pm; edited 1 time in total