Pick a peck of pickled Pikmin.
Extra Life is a weekly column focused on giving games a first, second, or third chance. Each article, someone will look at a game they missed, remember fondly from their childhood, or just thought was passed over. It could be a game that received universal appraisal, or one that seemingly nobody played.
Can you believe it's been three long years since the original New Play Control! Pikmin came out? It sure doesn't feel that way, especially given New Play Control! Pikmin 2's recent release. In honor of the event, I thought I’d revisit the original. It's such a fun game, and as you might recall, it was my first real experience with the charming little RTS. Hit that link for my thoughts on the game. For now, I'm going to talk about why Pikmin is so damn engaging and why I'm actually looking forward to the sequel.
Pikmin is a simple game. You grab your Pikmin out of the ground, give them tasks, and attempt to collect all your spaceship parts so Olimar can escape the unnamed planet. The trick, though, and what makes the game so addictive, is that your ultimate goal is to figure out the most efficient way through any given stage. It becomes a strategy game of a different sort—one I really respond to. I'm continually improving my times in WayForward's Mighty Switch Force, and the same is true for Pikmin.
And sure, it takes several passes before you know a stage inside and out, but you know what? New Play Control! Pikmin adds an important ability: you can select any day you've completed from the menu and restart there. Since each stage in Pikmin is self-contained, you can replay them to your heart's content, ever decreasing your completion time while increasing your collection rate. It's wildly addictive.
While I initially balked at the idea of a set time limit, I've come to accept and enjoy it as part of the game's unique strategy. It helps, of course, that the Pikmin themselves and the interesting creatures inhabiting their world are funny and charming in their own ways. The game also looks fantastic, even today. Pikmin 3 really does look like an HD version of Pikmin, which speaks volumes to the graphical quality and art aesthetic of the original. If you haven't played Pikmin, I recommend jumping on board with the New Play Control! games. After playing Pikmin 3 at E3 this year, I fully intend to reacquaint myself with this unique series about a short, round man and his walking vegetable army.
As we've been saying on Connectivity, you folks should play not only the original Pikmin, but its sequel as well. They're vastly different games, and it's hard to say one is really superior to the other because of it. Since they're both available on Wii now, there's no reason not to pick them up ($40 for both!) and hey—you'll be able to play all three on the Wii U!