Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cute, charming, original, fun...and that's just the Pikmin., 14 Nov 2003
This review is from: Pikmin (GameCube) (Video Game)
Inspiration. It is often the key to all good things and comes from unlikely places. Look at Pikmin. Word on the grapevine is that Shigeru Miyamoto (the games creator) moved into a new house with a back garden and was fascinated by its’ insect life. The game’s unusual influence may brand Pikmin as a ‘kids only’ title, but this is far from the case.
The game follows Captain Olimar whose ship is struck by a comet and is stranded on a strange planet as a result. Vital ship parts are scattered across the planet and his life support will only last for 30 days, meaning the challenge is to find his lost parts before he snuffs it. He isn’t alone though. The Pikmin are on hand to aid Olimar in his urgent mission. They stand less than an inch tall and come in three varieties: Red, Yellow and Blue, each possessing a unique ability that will prove vital to the completion of Olimar’s task. Red can withstand fire and are excellent fighters, yellow can be thrown further and can throw bomb rocks, and Blue’s aquatic abilities prove useful in water. As individuals, the tasks required of them would seem impossible, so it’s a relief that they’re capable of working together. At the beginning Olimar only has one red Pikmin to his disposal, which spawned from a mobile home (dubbed an Onion). Your first priority is to raise an army of Pikmin; you can’t expect Olimar to carry ship parts the size of a shoes by himself (don’t forget he’s only just bigger than the Pikmin).
One effective method is to use Pikmin to attack flowers that drop pellets once destroyed. These pellets will produce more Pikmin once taken back to the Onion and if the colour corresponds a greater number will be released. The number on the pellet represents how many Pikmin are required to carry it, although twice as many Pikmin will transport it twice as quickly. For small pellets there is no rush but larger pellets will need all the Pikmin you can muster, especially when you had to make your way through obstacles to get it to it and must return to your ship the way you came. You didn’t think it was a walk in the park did you? Although the game may be perceived as short, with just 5 areas to explore for all 30 parts and 30 days in which to do so (each game day lasting about 15 minutes) the Pikmin aren’t the only inhabitants on this planet.
A variety of creatures roam the areas. Some the size of a few Pikmin, others the size of 100 Pikmin. Learning how to attack these creatures is vital to your success. While sheer numbers can defeat smaller beasts, beating a boss will require strategy. If successful, they may drop multiple pellets for your use and Pikmin can even carry a fallen beast to produce more Pikmin, so nothing is wasted. It is good to see Mother Nature so keen on recycling. If you should fail however, your Pikmin will be killed/maimed/destroyed and you will cry. Pathetic how it sounds, they are so incredibly cute and full of character, it’s simple to grow attached then. And painful as this sounds, it’s practically impossible to complete the game without sacrificing several (well, more than several) of your adorable minions.
It is a credit to the game that the control system gives you sophistication and simple control over your drones, without you feeling confused or bored with elaborate button combinations or boring menus. Olimar’s whistle (B button) grabs the attention of Pikmin in the vicinity, while the X button sorts them by colour and the A button can be used to throw Pikmin onto high ledges with difficult access for Olimar or onto the backs of unsuspecting victims. The best is the C-Stick, which moves your selected Pikmin separate from Olimar (with limitations on distance of course) allowing navigation of thin narrow paths or simply swift attacks that will overthrow enemies with a tidal wave of angry plant people.
Simplistic controls do not equal a simplistic game, as knowing precisely which Pikmin to use is key. Retrieving beginning ship parts will only require one colour. Later pieces will require a team of yellow Pikmin to blow up a wall, while your red troops can take down the local bully, allowing your blues to cross a small puddle and retrieve that vitally important ship part. This game can be frantic as days only last for 15 minutes, but thankfully you can restart them to recover your lost Pikmin and if you're feeling lucky, have a stab at recovering two, or even three ship parts in one day.
But for all its rushing about, you can’t help but kick back and take in the scenery. The surroundings are almost overpowering because they don’t need to resort to flashy eye-catching visuals for it to look beautiful. Each area is living and breathing with incredible attention to detail. Leaves sway in the wind, water ripples like REAL water and creatures that aren’t being assaulted by Pikmin go about their business living their own lives. The lighting itself is superbly yet subtly done as it captures a summer’s morning, before it hardens to a midday sun and then fades to a golden evening glow, followed by the twinkling starlight of the night. The icing on the cake is how each Pikmin has personality. Some straggle behind while others interact with each other and you’ll be transfixed just like Miyamoto was in his garden.
Although stunning, it does fault. Five areas is light and once completed, even the Challenge Mode (growing as many Pikmin as you can in a day) will lack reply value once finished. This minor fault aside though, Pikmin is highly recommended. It’s original, engaging and is one of the most innovative yet charming games you will ever play…until Pikmin 2. Short, but oh so sweet.
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