30 Jan, 2003

Pikmin Review

GCN Review | Captain Olimar is in a dire situation - He has crash landed on an alien planet, and has only 30 days until his life support runs out! Will you help him?

When a stray asteroid hits space captain Olimar’s ship; the ‘Dolphin’, he makes an emergency crash landing onto a planet covered in gigantic, lush vegetation. The oxygen on the planet is toxic to him, and with only thirty days of life support remaining, he needs to find thirty pieces of his ship that scattered when he flew through the planet’s atmosphere. It seems Olimar will need a miracle to gather the pieces and make his way back home. While looking around, he stumbles upon a red, disc-like object called an ‘Onion’, which springs out of the ground and releases a seed. Upon closer investigation, the seed sprouts a leaf, and Olimar picks it out of the ground; revealing a small, thin, red creature. This is your very first ‘Pikmin’, and it appears to be friendly. Perhaps it could help you find the pieces to your ship?

The uniqueness of Pikmin’s gameplay makes it daunting at first. There hasn’t been anything like it before, so you can’t just pick up the controller and expect to instinctively know how to play.

Throughout the game, you control Olimar using the Control Stick. It isn’t as simple as that however. There are two stages of Olimar control; Firstly, you control a target that moves in a small radius around him. If you are standing next to a Pikmin, you can press ‘A’ to throw it where the target is positioned. Secondly, if you move the target out of the available radius, you move Olimar in the direction you’re holding. It sounds confusing, and initially it is. Spend a few minutes practicing, and it will become second nature.

There are three types of Pikmin, each with different strengths, weaknesses, and ‘Onion’ homes. Red Pikmin are fire resistant, Blue Pikmin have gills and can swim, and Yellow Pikmin can use ‘Bomb Rocks’ and are able to be thrown a lot higher than the others. You must exploit these traits while formulating strategies to solve the various types of cleverly designed puzzles.

To increase the number of Pikmin at your disposal, you must find pellets or defeat enemies, and command your army to bring them back to the Onions. When you do so, more seeds are planted in the ground. If you leave them there, the leaves will evolve into Buds, then Flowers. Each evolution is stronger and faster than the last, so it is advisable to give them time to grow. When you are ready to pick your Pikmin, you simply walk up to the leaf, bud, or flower, and press ‘A’.

If you position the target near a group of Pikmin and hold ‘B’, Olimar will blow a whistle and a colourful ring will expand from the target. Any Pikmin inside the ring will be placed under your control. Alternatively, you can tap ‘B’ when the target is over a single Pikmin to individually call it to you. You can control a maximum of one hundred at a time; you most likely won’t need any more.

If you tap ‘X’ while controlling a group of Pikmin, they will separate into groups according to their colour, and be dismissed. It makes management of your Pikmin a lot easier, but sometimes it can be frustrating when the groups are positioned too close to each other. You’ll want to keep a close eye on your dismissed Pikmin so none get left behind at the end of the day.

While you have a group under your command, you can use the C-Stick to manoeuvre them around you. For example, if you want to sneak past a sleeping enemy on your left, you would hold the C-Stick to your right and your Pikmin would keep to the right of Olimar. Also, if you hold the C-Stick in the direction of a wall, bridge, enemy, or pellet, your group will automatically attack, build, or pick up the object you aimed at.

The ‘Y’ button brings up Olimar’s monitor. It displays the amount of each Pikmin type you have in the field and in the ‘Onions’, as well as Ship Parts and a map if you have the ‘Whimsical Radar’ piece. If you press ‘R’ on this screen, it will show you a GCN controller detailing all of the controls, just in case you forget.

The camera is controlled with the ‘Z’ button and the ‘L’ and ‘R’ triggers. When use the digital-click of the R button, the Camera changes into one of three zoom levels. If you hold L, the Camera will centre behind Olimar. The ‘Z’ button allows you to change the perspective to top-down for a better view of the landscape, and back to the default third-person hover if you press it again. Effective use of the camera is needed if you want to succeed in most puzzles.

You may be a little intimidated by the complexity of the controls, but after the first in-game day, you’ll be fine. The various objectives gradually improve your strategic skills, and before you know it, you’ll be sneaking through the enemy’s home with a ship piece you stole from under his nose.

Over the thirty days (after day one, each day lasts about fifteen minutes), you can choose to visit any unlocked area, and go after any ship pieces. Each area has different enemies, objectives, and puzzles to be solved, as well as mini-bosses. Once you acquire enough pieces, the range of your ship is increased, allowing you to travel further across the land to new areas, each with its own distinctive look and feel.

Once each day is finished, you must quickly gather your Pikmin or the night predators will eat them. You can then read about Olimar’s discoveries in his Logbook, and save your game.

The graphics in Pikmin aren’t overwhelmingly good, but definitely above average. The worlds are beautifully constructed, albeit covered in a few muddy textures and the game features a constant motion blur, which adds to the distinctive style of the game. The Pikmin themselves are very basic, rounded models covered in a single colour depending on type. When you get one hundred Pikmin on screen at once, attacking an enemy in stunningly realistic water, and have constant camera movement all locked at 30fps, that’s when you’ll appreciate the graphics engine.

When you zoom the camera right in on the action, some muddy textures and seaming are evident, although it’s unlikely you’ll need to zoom in that far through the whole game. When viewed from above, it’s hard to believe there really isn’t a garden growing inside your television. Depending on which camera angles you prefer, you’ll get a slightly different graphical experience, so you’ll need to find which viewpoint suits you best. Rest assured that you’re in for a graphical treat regardless.

Most of the music in Pikmin sounds like it has been ripped from preschooler TV shows. There are a lot of happy xylophones, violins, guitars, up-tempo beats and ambience, and it really doesn’t fit with the context of the game. The last thing you want to hear while marching your Pikmin to their collective doom is a cheery song, even if it is slightly addictive and makes you want to hum it... None of the songs are especially memorable, but they don’t get on your nerves either.

The little noises that the Pikmin make are downright cute. They let out little emotive grunts and squeals that will almost always bring a smile to your face. The enemy noises are also somewhat entertaining, and the sound of one munching up an army of Pikmin is amusing in a grotesque, sadistic sort of way. Some of the sound effects seem tinny, such as the Dolphin’s thrusters, but mostly the sound design is fine.

Pikmin is presented in Mono, Stereo and 4.1 Surround sound. The rear surround channel isn’t used much, which is slightly disappointing in an otherwise immersive game.

Shiggy Shines

Pikmin is a fun, innovative and extremely entertaining romp through Miyamoto’s backyard. I would recommend it to anybody looking for a challenging, original, and satisfying game to play. This game could sell on gameplay alone, but the above average graphics and sound combine to make this an all-round worthwhile purchase for fans of the adventure and strategy genres.
The Score
A highly recommended and immensely enjoyable game. Let’s hope they don’t take too long with Pikmin 2!
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 decade ago
Uh what's up with that review in the sound section it repeats the graphics section. Anyway good review.
9 years ago
Still havnt bought this game.
9 years ago
Stop digging up topics dammit, read the dates.
9 years ago
He's using my old tactics. icon_razz.gif

lol Pikmin, my friend is addicted to that game.

I let him borrow a few of my games as I don't play too much anymore, ands he threaten to trade them in for Pikmin 2. Lucky it got delayed and he came to his senses.
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

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