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Oct 5th

Pikmin 3 Preview

Platform: Wii U
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: TBA 2013
Genre: Strategy


You Rocked My Gardeners’ World 

The definition of a ‘garden’ reads as follows:

Garden (gar-den): ‘a piece of ground, often near a house, used for growing flowers, fruit or vegetables’.

Luckily, the majority of the UK’s population are fortunate enough to have their own garden to enjoy; a place where they can toast their pasty skin on a rare summer’s day, purchase needless furniture for, and heavily neglect until the neighbours complain about the current state of their now overgrown eyesore.

But, of course, there is another segment of the population who are not so fortunate. Those who are sadly without a grassy chunk of greenery to call their own. They are the forlorn, the few… the gardenless…

When these sorry souls stare out of the glass portraits that frame the outside world, they often encounter this trite creation:

Pavement (pave-ment): ‘the hard surface of a road or street’.

Rocky Horror Show

Emotionless slabs of concrete rudely occupy what used to be strictly mother nature’s territory. An inexpressive concoction of greys, beige and terracotta have evicted all signs of life. It is, to put it lightly, a dismal spectacle.

But why all this talk about gardens? Well, on August 1st, 2012, I too, became gardenless. And yes, I’m still grieving the loss.

Pleasant. Isn’t it?

I long to be reunited with the vibrancy of the garden’s wondrous flora and busy fauna. The morning dew that coats the blades of grass, the scattered leaves that crunch beneath my foot print, the butterflies (oh how I miss the butterflies) that adorned the blooming hedgerows. All of this, instantly erased from my mind as I stare at a discarded kebab box and an ambiguous, surprisingly colourful stain on the pavement below.

I guess, deep down, I’m just thankful that Shigeru Miyamoto wasn’t subjected to the same unstimulating sight. Otherwise it’s highly unlikely that he’d have been inspired enough to create one of the most adorable and endearing franchises around. The petit, willowy plants who scurry around to the tune of a whistle; the wonderful workers: the Pikmin.

Flower Power

It’s been a staggering eleven years since we first crash landed with Captain Olimar on the Nintendo GameCube – salvaging parts with our unexpected, colourful new co-workers. An equally astonishing eight years have passed since Olimar and Louie returned home in Pikmin 2 to pay off their planet’s debt. But thankfully, the Pikmin are finally scrambling together again for Pikmin 3.

Destined to arrive at some point during Nintendo’s frustratingly imprecise Wii U launch window, gardenless mopes like me will get their chance to cultivate a glorious army of cuteness personified, consisting of ruby red, navy blue and lemon yellow warriors in our very own personal, backdoor paradise. Yes, Pikmin 3 will go a long way to helping me overcome my recent bereavement.

Taste The Rainbow 

Benefiting from the sparkle of high definition visuals and the Wii U’s added graphical grunt, Miyamoto’s diminutive minions have never looked so lively and lovable. The already wondrous world that was home to the Pikmin is now a captivating, delectable rainbow of believable objects made up of juicy fruit, lush vegetation, crystal clear waters and sweet drops of gooey honey.

From a distance, naysayers may dismiss Pikmin 3 as a simple HD upgrade of Pikmin 2. But the devil really is in the detail. The Pikmin almost looked organic during my playthrough, with up to 100 of the little blighters being commandable this time around. And yes, they’re just as cute as ever, including the new rock Pikmin.

Stone cold cuties!

Confusing the uneducated and easily misled, Pikmin 3 is controlled using the Wiimote and Nunchuk. That’s right, you won’t be playing Pikmin 3 with the GamePad; not yet at least anyway. The GamePad was cradled to the side of me during my hands-on session, taunting me with a measly map display which felt like a rushed inclusion. Whether the GamePad will see a proper implementation come launch is a matter of wait and see at this point.

However, that being said, the Wiimote Motion Plus and Nunchuk combination worked admirably. The Nunchuk’s analog stick is used to move your captain (who isn’t Olimar) around the map, with the C button switching between the different Pikmin types on the fly. The Wiimote’s pointer lets you target enemies with effortless ease, with the B and A buttons flinging and grouping up the nearby Pikmin. Mercifully there wasn’t any noticeable waggling or needless tacked on motion controls.

Pikmin 3 plays out similarly to the previous games, though its probably more akin to the original. Your Pikmin essentially act like army ants: they scavenge for you, fight for you, pillage for you and die for you, all to the blow of your whistle. The game is all about strategic thinking; picking the right types of Pikmin for the job, designating the correct number to attack and carry, and working against the ticking clock to achieve your goals. It’s an enjoyable, polished formula and funnily enough, the gameplay still feels unique after all these years; there still isn’t anything really like Pikmin out there.

I Wanna Rock! (Pikmin) 

After harvesting carcasses, sipping up honey, building stone bridges and feeling more suitably reacquainted with my old plant pals, I decided to try the other mode on offer which involved a timed boss battle.

A catfish, millipede-like creature crawled down from the surrounding cave walls, encased in a hard, glass shell that shimmered, reflected and sparkled. And it was obvious he was hungry. Hungry for the delicacy that is the Pikmin people.

The Pikmin are surprisingly vicious little individuals.

After hurling a number of redundant red Pikmin, who bounced off the creature’s protective layer like harmless marshmallows, I decided to switch to the new bulkier Pikmin breed, the rock Pikmin. I flung the rocky rouges towards the target and soon enough, the crusty cuties proved to be the perfect projectile to crack open the creature’s armour coating. But this creepy crawler wasn’t going to go down so easily, as the creature continued to charge on my group of green soldiers, mouth gape, tongue lashing.

With the creature’s softer flesh exposed, the previously pitiful red Pikmin proved effective, as they latched onto the creature’s soft tissue and began nibbling away (or whatever it is that Pikmin do).

After another hail of my horticultural heroes, the beast eventually succumbed to the furious foliage and out popped a delightfully detailed tongue, taste buds and all.

Pikmin-Up, Before You Grow, Grow

After an eight year absence, some may begrudge Pikmin 3 for feeling a little too familiar. And some may argue that Nintendo have played it safe. But this isn’t an annually updated franchise like Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed we’re talking about, who arguably produce the same experience year in, year out. No, this is Pikmin; one of the most charming games of a generation and a series which still feels remarkably unique. I for one can’t wait to visit Miyamoto’s new garden of wonder.

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