Also available on Wii U via Virtual Console and Wii
Pikmin is a game that's been in my collection for years but that I've never played for more than about two hours until this week. See, I hate time limits. Like, that's pretty much my least favorite thing in a game. It's why Majora's Mask is my second least favorite Zelda game after Zelda II (I haven't played the CD-i games). I decided I should probably put on my big boy britches and actually play through it, though, since I think it's the only Nintendo IP I've not played, so that's exactly what I did this week.
Pikmin is, at its core, a real time strategy game, but rarely does it feel like one. You're not base building or destroying enemy cities or installations or anything. You've your little Pikmin - fire-proof red ones that hit hard, super light yellow ones that can hold bombs, and amphibious blue ones that can touch a water molecule without instantly dying. You'll have to build up your supply of each type of Pikmin and use the right one for the right job. They're also ridiculously stupid and will charge headfirst at an enemy that it definitely can't kill, and the yellow and red ones will jump into water with a total disregard for their own safety just like America jumped into the Trump administration.
The story is that Olimar, this little pigmy looking dude with Vulcan ears, crash landed on this planet. His space suit only had 30 days' worth of life support before he dies from exposure to oxygen (it's toxic to him). He's gotta scour this planet for 30 missing parts to his ship, although there are really only like 20 that are REQUIRED to get back into space, so as long as you find the right pieces, you don't technically have to find all 30 (although it's not terribly difficult to find them all with time to spare; I did it in 24 days). Without spoiling anything, I will give you some advice, though; leave yourself at least two days for the last area (it took me three because I fucked up and wasted the bombs, costing me a day).
One thing I did really love about Pikmin, however, was the surprising and frankly rather deceptive look of the game. It looks like a fairly cute, innocent little game. You've got this cute, funny looking little guy and all these adorable little creatures...and then you start talking about suffocation, you hear Pikmin scream as they drown, you see them get eaten, mauled, and crushed to death, and you watch them burn to death. Like, damn, dude. This game, despite being super colorful and cheerful, is actually pretty fucking dark when you think about it. That juxtaposition between the aesthetic of the game and the dark reality of what's going on is just brilliant in my opinion and artistic af.
To be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of Pikmin. I know I said I love how jarring the contrast between the look and reality of the game are, and I do really admire that about it, but there are a couple things that really keep me from loving it. First is that the Pikmin AI could have used some work. I'm not saying they should be autonomous and play the game for me, but I should be able to walk across a bridge without ten of my dudes deciding to jump to a watery grave despite my best efforts to keep them on land. They also seem to get caught on every conceivable obstacle in the environment, and lord help me if I'll ever find half of them. The look is cute, the story is interesting, and the gameplay can be fun, but between my gripes with the AI and the fact that I utterly LOATH time constraints in games, I just can't bring myself to love this one. I liked it enough to play the others in the series, so I'll eventually get Pikmin 2 on either Gamecube or Wii, and I already have Pikmin 3 sitting on my Wii U shelf. This one just doesn't rank that high for me.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.