All good things come to those who wait. In this case, 100 little good things.
Nine years. That’s how long I’ve been waiting for another game in the under-appreciated Pikmin series. It skipped an entire console generation with vague hints that it was in development, but it wasn’t until E3 2012 that we finally got a taste of the new fruit-filled adventure. While we got remakes of Pikmin and Pikmin 2 on the Wii with proper widescreen support and Wii Remote controls, I still dreamed about finally getting my hands on the third, especially with the promise of beautiful HD graphics and GamePad functionality. Thankfully, those promises were fulfilled, and the game itself made the series feel like it never left.
The first time I got a chance to play the final version was at this year’s Penny Arcade Expo in the console freeplay room. I was initially disappointed with both the GamePad and Wii MotionPlus controls. The GamePad felt as if it was trying to mimic the pointer controls instead of something similar to the Gamecube releases, and the MotionPlus felt like it had too high of a deadzone, making pointing at certain objects a hassle. Thankfully when I played the game at home, I realized that it was due to improper Sensor Bar settings. The moment I started playing, I was immediately immersed in the action, forgetting I had anything in my hands at all. Pikmin 3 became an addiction.
The game was everything I had hoped for in a new Pikmin game. Beautiful graphics and music, new types of areas to explore, smarter Pikmin AI, a sense of urgency that I felt was missing in Pikmin 2, and of course, using the Wii U’s functionality to its fullest. While the GamePad wasn’t my main controller in terms of direct input, it was still very important to me as I played the game. Being able to have a constant map of the area by my side that not only pauses the game as I look around it, but also allows me to put my other two captains on autopilot as I traverse new areas, it makes me feel even more like I’m in control of the mission, rather than the mission being in control of me.
The new Rock and Flying Pikmin types were also very fun to use, and I didn’t need to fear that I would run out of them like the finite amount of Purple and White Pikmin from Pikmin 2. Whereas the Rock and Flying Pikmin have their own specific strengths and weaknesses, the Purple and White Pikmin only had strengths, so I can see why they were cut from the main game. They make appearances in the game’s two player Bingo Battle mode, but during the period that I was still playing the game I had no friends to play with, so I have yet to try the mode out with anyone.
Even without the multiplayer mode, Pikmin 3 is definitely one of my top choices for game of the year. Sure, the fundamentals of the game aren’t too different from the previous games, but after nine dormant years, I feel like I can let that slide. The game was a joy from start to finish, and left me wanting even more when it was all over. Let’s just hope the seeds have been planted for a Pikmin 4.