We have long waited for it, longed for it, desired it. It was confirmed in development even at E3 2008, by Miyamoto himself. At E3 2011, his move from Wii title to Wii U. It was supposed to be one of the titles in the launch window of the new fixed console. Then some postponements. To ensure a higher level of quality, it seems. And finally, 9 years after the previous title in the series (more than Super Metroid and Metroid Prime, for comparison), this long-awaited title is ready to be released all over the world. We are talking, of course, of Pikmin 3, a title that should mark the beginning of a second phase for Wii U, which will continue next month with Platinum Games' The Wonderful 101 and will culminate in the Autumn / Christmas season with Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. So let's find out if it has been worth the wait so long and if Pikmin 3 will live up to the role it will have to play within the troubled life of Wii U.
A unique mix of strategy, adventure and puzzle
Despite the recent Wii reissues of the first two chapters, included in the "New Play Control!" with a control system entirely adapted to Wiimote and Nunchuck, many years have passed since the release of the original titles on GameCube, and since in any case they have always been games proponents of limited commercial success, most may have no idea what to expect from a Pikmin series game. It is, in other words, a title that tries to clear a very “PC-centric” genre like that of real-time strategy towards the world of consoles. In doing so, Pikmin hybridizes this RTS component with others that are more strictly adventure and puzzle solving, in a mix that, even later, has found very few equals in the world of video games. Instead of directly controlling large groups of units as in a traditional strategy, in Pikmin we will control one or more characters with humanoid features, who in turn will have the command over a dense array of creatures known by the name of Pikmin. Halfway between the plant and animal world, a little ants and a little carrots (!!!), these little creatures will instinctively recognize the various protagonists of the games in the series as commanders, and will be willing to follow their orders until death. . On the other hand, exploiting the Pikmin will be a more than obligatory choice for our characters, stuck on an alien planet, in which stones, flowers, small plants and even the smallest animals of the undergrowth have colossal dimensions. The danger deriving from these gigantic and ruthless creatures is great, and only by exploiting the strength of the Pikmin numbers and guiding them with strategy, will it be possible to achieve all the objectives of the game.
New team, same planet
In Pikmin 3 we do not find the protagonist of the first two episodes, Olimar (to which the helper Louie was added in Pikmin 2), but a new trio of characters: Alph, Brittany and Commander Charlie. The trio comes from Koppai, a planet close to Hocotate, that of the protagonists of the previous chapters, and arrives on the planet of the Pikmin in search of food and a solution to the food crisis that is hitting the homeland. The alien planet is indeed rich in huge, juicy fruits, capable of providing food to the three astronauts and seeds to be brought back to Koppai to be planted and cultivated. Not everything will go as planned, and following a crash, the three characters will end up divided and scattered. It will be the discovery of the Pikmin to provide the unfortunate cosmonauts with the tools to reunite and to complete their mission. The first phases of the game, those in which Alph, Brittany and Charlie are divided, have the function of a long tutorial, in which the peculiarities of the title are gradually explained to the player, avoiding that an excess of information confuses the user with first weapons. All this is accomplished without excessively long and verbose introductions: with each new mechanic introduced, it is immediately employed in the field, often with better effect than other excessive explanations. The Pikmin will automatically follow the protagonist on duty, who in turn can decide to call them back with a whistle, throw them, or dismiss them. By launching the Pikmin it will be possible to make them perform various tasks: smash obstacles, build bridges, move objects, retrieve fruits and face the ferocious local wildlife. Each enemy will have specific behaviors and specific weaknesses, and it will be up to the player to exploit them to face them in the best possible way. The Pikmin will have their own autonomous attack behavior, but without the player's guidance it will be impossible to defeat them without major losses. By returning the corpses of the defeated enemies to the "onion", the base of our Pikmin, it will be possible to obtain new units with which to reinforce the ranks of our army. As the game progresses our options will increase, and we will have access to different types of Pikmin: the red ones, resistant to fire and tougher fighters; the yellow ones, capable of conducting electricity and being thrown farther; the blue ones, able to proceed even under water; those rock, heavier, able to break glass and crystal obstacles and to do considerable damage to certain types of enemies; the flying ones, finally, whose abilities do not need further explanation. The group of Pikmin that we will bring with us will be as heterogeneous as possible, and we will be able to decide with the simple press of a button which type to use in each specific occasion. Furthermore, once the various crew members have been brought together, we can also decide to separate our group to carry out multiple tasks at the same time. With a button it will be possible to switch from one leader to another, to maximize results within each day. The time we will have at our disposal will in fact be limited: the various enemies are too aggressive at night to be able to continue to operate undisturbed, and we will be forced to carry out the exploration only during the day, and then return to our spacecraft before each sunset. Splitting the group first in two and then in three teams will be the trick to better face the most advanced levels, by far the most extensive and branched ever seen in a game in the series. To optimize operations, the option of plan a route for the other leaders, who will follow him independently. This function is very convenient and essential for more complex levels, as long as you take into account any enemies or environmental dangers along the way. The three characters will also be used to overcome some simple puzzles: it will be possible to launch one of the leaders on heights not otherwise reachable, and by providing them with a small group of Pikmin it will be possible to reach fruits and objects out of our range of action.
New Play Control!
Compared to previous episodes, Pikmin 3 makes available to the player numerous control options. It will be possible to use both the Wiimote and Nunchuck combo, the Wii U GamePad in combination with the TV screen and move the entire game screen to the GamePad only. In the first case, the control scheme is taken from the New Play Control versions! of Pikmin and Pikmin 2, where the Wiimote pointer was used to select the zone in which to launch Pikmin. In the second and third cases the control scheme will be more similar to the originals on GameCube, but with one fundamental difference: in Pikmin 3 the camera system has been revised, now not only adjustable behind the back of the character with a button, but also controllable directly with the right analog stick. Thus, the function that stick C had in the first two chapters is lost, that is to make the whole group of Pikmin make small movements. This is not a very important change to the gameplay of the series, although some more experienced players may miss it: moving our army in this way added further tactical possibilities to the game, and allowed us to better face some battles with the bosses. The Wii U GamePad, when used in combination with the TV screen, also allows access to some additional functions: during gameplay, a map of the known area of the level can be constantly monitored, indicating the various groups of Pikmin. and the various points of interest, as well as it is possible to use it to take photos (which can be shared on Miiverse) from the point of view of the character we are controlling, often with very picturesque effects.
Let's enter the world in miniature
The technical realization of the game is valuable. The Pikmin series has always proved to be a small technological pearl in each of its incarnations, but with this third episode, thanks to the “muscles” of Wii U, the general level has risen further. The game is nailed to 60FPS and enjoys impressive fluidity, even with a very high screen count. Our group can in fact be made up of 100 Pikmin, to which the three protagonists and all the other animals on the map must be added. If it is true that even in the previous episodes there was a similar number of characters on the screen, Wii U allows a smooth rendering as never before, with high resolution and much more defined textures, and remarkable effects of light and refraction. Particularly impressive is the effect of Depth of Field, which blurs the elements furthest from the focus of the camera, giving greater impact to the realistic look of the environments. Unfortunately, in some situations, some elements still betray the Wii origins of the title. Although in general the textures turn out to be of high quality, here and there it is still possible to see some not level, while some minor imperfections remain, such as characters passing through leaves or some not very elegant animations (emblematic is that of the "launch" of our critters: instead of grabbing the nearest Pikmin, we will often see one appear directly in the arms of our characters and, at the same time, one disappear from the tail of the group). In any case, these are small things, which do not affect the gaming experience. The generational leap compared to the previous episodes is not perceptible in a very evident way, but more than to a real gap in Pikmin 3 this is attributable to the level of excellence already achieved by the previous episodes, a testament to the vision and skill of the original Pikmin team. Even the music turns out to live up to expectations, and in line with the standards and style of the series. The compositions are varied and reflect one carefree style, sometimes rural, sometimes Zen, which underline both the most “bucolic” moments of the game and, by contrast, those in which, due to our mistake or distraction, dozens of unsuspecting Pikmin are massacred by beasts or by the various environmental dangers of which the maps are rich.
Multitasking is better
Pikmin 3 is not a difficult title, provided that you have assimilated the various game mechanics. Tackling the various situations with the simple force of numbers is possible, but never advisable, and depending on the skill of the player it may take a very variable number of hours to complete the game. Particularly important in this sense is the aforementioned possibility of proceeding with separate groups and planning routes and destinations. Learning to master this "multitasking" will be essential to complete the game more quickly; otherwise it will take more "days" to complete the same tasks. In general, the amount of content of the adventure, however you face it, is closer to that of Pikmin 2 than to that of the first game. If that's not enough, there are some alternative ways, in which to face the bosses of the story mode, or in which to collect fruit or kill enemies within a set time. In these modes, a vote will be assigned to our performance (which we can also review at a later time in fast-forward on the GamePad screen, in order to allow us to analyze the weaknesses of our strategies), and by improving it we will be able to unlock further missions. Finally, there is one two-player local multiplayer mode, called Bingo mode. In these sections, each player will be assigned a bingo card, with one fruit marked on each box. The players will then have to reap the rewards in order to complete a row of four in this table, trying to beat the other on time, perhaps even hindering him with their Pikmin. While this is not a fundamental addition, it is well done, and adds further depth to an already excellent title of its own.Verdict 8.5 / 10 One of the first Wii U must haves Comment In the light of our test, Pikmin 3 was definitely worth the wait so long. that mix of strategy, puzzle and adventure that makes Pikmin so unique and fun. The downsides are few and negligible, such as the abolition of group management via the second analog, or some small graphic imperfections. If we really wanted to nitpick we would have to say that if the first Pikmin introduced a revolutionary style of play and if the second went to correct all its flaws, there was no real need behind the creation of a Pikmin 3. A " more of the same "in short, even if when the quality level is this, no one has the right to complain. If the relaunch of Wii U is to go through this title, we are definitely confident: Pikmin 3 is rightly added to the small but already very valid list of Must Haves for the young console: New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo Land, ZombiU, LEGO City Undercover and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. Pros and cons ✓ Great mix of strategy, puzzle and adventure
✓ Long-lived, with many ideas and an adequate level of challenge
✓ Graphically excellent
✓ Many control options, GamePad well exploited x Not revolutionary like the first, not necessary like the second
x Using the second stick to control the camera and not the Pikmin might make some noses turn up
x Minor graphic imperfections
x Maybe not suitable for all players