Shigeru Miyamoto was already well-established as a creative genius in the video game industry before he created Pikmin for the Nintendo Gamecube in 2001. With Mario and Link already under his belt, Mr. Nintendo produced a game around the idea he conceived while gardening. Pikmin is a real-time strategy game where you take control of a tiny astronaut who has crash-landed on a planet and enlists the help of the tiny Pikmin race to repair his ship. Let’s follow the lead of Olimar and dig into this Pikmin review!
Pikmin doesn’t have an in-depth story, but it does have a simple one. The player takes control of Captain Olimar, who has crashed his ship on a strange planet after a comet crashed into him. As the days go by, he reveals more about his family, writing in his journal about his son or daughter and how he hopes to see them again. Olimar is not a human, but some type of humanoid alien that looks like a tiny human. He can’t breathe oxygen as it’s poisonous to his body and determines that his life support will only last 30 days. The small little creatures are known as Pikmin grow in the ground and are naturally drawn to Olimar as a leader to their race. It’s possible to have three different endings, if you collect all 30 parts, you’ll receive the best ending (which is what I did). You can also end up with a good ending if you collect 25 parts including the critical ones necessary for flight. There’s also a bad ending that will occur if you fail to collect enough parts to relaunch your ship into space. Essentially, the good endings have Olimar blasting off into space and heading toward his family. The bad ending has Olimar failing to launch. After his ship crashes again, the Pikmin take his dead body and suck it up into their home resulting in Olimar being turned into a seed and planted. He has now turned into a Pikmin who will be able to live on their planet.
I’ll get this out of the way now, I hate time limits. You may remember my review of Sega Rally Championship in which I trashed it for the timing checkpoints. Pikmin threatens the player with death if you do not build your ship in 30 days. That’s finding one part a day, which is easier said than done. Watching the days go by constantly gave me an uneasy feeling, knowing that death was upon poor Olimar if I didn’t get enough ship parts in time. The impending doom freaked me out instead of motivating me. But that’s just a small complaint and it didn’t change the Pikmin review score too much. I found Pikmin’s gameplay to be wonderfully addicting.
Olimar needs to grow Pikmin to advance his search for his ship parts that have been scattered throughout the area. There are three Pikmin races for Olimar to grow. The first is the red Pikmin, which are the most capable of fighting, think of them as your grunts. You’ll need them to take down big enemies that walk around the grass and dirt. There’s yellow Pikmin that Olimar can throw higher, making them useful for reaching items where other Pikmin can’t. The last race is blue Pikmin, they can swim and survive water where the other Pikmin would drown. Each Pikmin has a unique talent, and all are needed to survive.
At first, I cared deeply about every Pikmin. They were so loyal to me, following my every order. I vowed not to kill any during the process of saving my ship. I remember the first time a Pikmin died in battle for me, stomped on or gobbled up by one of the numerous large bugs that roamed the dirt fields. Their little soul appeared with a tiny cry as the white silhouette floated toward the sky. It was heartbreaking and I felt terrible about that Pikmin’s life. I learned the hard way that not all Pikmin can swim, sending one of the reds into the water to collect a ship part, he drowned shortly after.
I soon grew numb to the loss of Pikmin life, becoming a bloodthirsty war general in my quest to save my ship. I’d send hundreds of Pikmin marching to their death if it meant they’d bring me a ship part for the day. Each loss of life was a gain to Olimar in his quest to return to his family, the deaths were necessary for the greater good.
The Pikmin have three stages of power, as they all have little plants on top of their heads. The newborn Pikmin are the weakest with a small bulb on top. Second-tier Pikmin has a budding flower, and the most powerful have fully-bloomed flowers on top. You can grow their powers by waiting to pluck them in the ground, waiting for them to soak up the sun. You can also have them drink nectar which instantly grows them to a large flower head.
Finding the ship parts was the easy part, after collecting a few items your ship capabilities increase, and you can fly to different sections on the planet. But just because I found a ship part didn’t mean I’d be able to reach it right away. I was able to collect the first twenty or so parts with relative ease, but the final parts were more difficult than I anticipated, and with the countdown on, I had to look up how to collect the parts on guides. Some parts were very difficult as you’d have to lead the Pikmin on narrow ledges or cross small bridges to get to secret areas. Pikmin is half puzzle game, half real-time strategy. It’s a great game for people who like to think on their feet.
Pikmin has a few bosses, some of them having ship parts that you need to advance. Most of them will go down if you throw enough Pikmin onto them as the little guys bash their flowery heads against the bodies. For my Pikmin review I thought about writing detailed strategies but just figured that throwing enough Pikmin on them was enough.
Two bosses stick out to me, one is a large bird that pops up from the ground with its long neck. He was difficult as I didn’t always know where he’d appear. The final boss took me a few attempts as you have to get him to eat small exploding rocks to deal massive damage. By the end of the game, I had hundreds of Pikmin ready to go to war for me, but the final boss gobbled up almost half my army before he fell.
I remember when Pikmin came out, I was in sixth grade and I had one friend that owned a Gamecube. He got Pikmin and we played it together, but it really wasn’t a two-player game. A few months after he got bored with it, he let me borrow his Gamecube and Pikmin. I spent a weekend trying to figure out what to do and how to get the parts. As a sixth-grader this game was difficult and I never got very far with collecting parts. It wasn’t until a few months ago when I decided to try my hand at the game and write a Pikmin review that I was able to beat it in a week.
Pikmin Review Score:
Some of the best games are the ones with fresh ideas or ideas that are presented in different forms. Pikmin is a real-time strategy game in disguise. With tons of puzzles to solve and addicting gameplay in the form of growing your Pikmin army for your conquest. Pikmin scores high for me.
Pikmin scores a 9.1 out of 10.
What would you write in your Pikmin review? What did you think of Pikmin when it first came out? Did you fear the impending doom as I did? Were you able to collect the parts easily or was there one that you got stuck on? How about the final boss, did he gobble up your army like he did mine? Let me know your thoughts and memories of Pikmin, I’d love to read them!