Video Games Weekly: Pikman 3
This week, I was going to review Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, but then I learned on Twitter that Nintendo released their Nintendo Selects 2016 sale! This sale is especially sweet for libraries that have Wii games that don’t want to spend the full $60 on older titles, and I personally think every game on this list is a solid collection development purchase. I was particularly swayed to purchase Pikmin 3 because it’s been out of stock/unavailable to purchase for a long time. I once found a copy of this game on sale on Amazon for $80, which is outrageous!
Background: The very first Pikmin game came out in 2001 on the GameCube. In the first Pikmin, you play as Captain Olimar who is an astronaut that emergency crash lands on a foreign planet. Captain Olimar has 30 days to put his spaceship together, so players have to use prioritize tasks and use strategy skills in order to beat the clock. Luckily, this planet has many different kinds of Pikmin, who basically become your minions that help you find food, find your spaceship parts, and help you defeat enemies. Pikmin are incredibly adorable, and make cute noises when they walk around or are thrown.
Pikmin 2 came out in 2004, and was just as successful as the first one. It introduced new aspects to the game like the ability to have more than one captain, and different types of Pikmin. Unfortunately, Pikmin 3 took forever to come out, and it was finally released in 2013. What’s so weird is in the last year, I couldn’t find a copy that wasn’t highly priced, so I’m really pleased Nintendo decided to make this widely available again and for a reduced priced.
Platform: Wii U
Single or Multiplayer: Both. This is the first Pikmin game in the series that has a multiplayer portion, but the main storyline is still single player only.
Storyline: You play as three different astronauts who are from a planet suffering from famine called Koppai. The three astronauts set out to find food on other planets and hope to bring back nourishment to their home planet. They choose explore a planet called PNF-404, but the space ship breaks apart as it crash lands on the surface. They get separated from each other, so your job is to bring all of the captains together while searching for food to bring back to Koppai.
Once the astronauts find each other, they work to find as much fruit as possible to bring back as juice to save their home planet.
Gameplay: Pikmin has a reputation for being a difficult strategy game, and Pikmin 3 has lived up to that expectation. Don’t be fooled by how cute the game looks; I’m a grown woman and I think the game is INCREDIBLY HARD. The basic game play is each astronaut is equipped with a whistle, which is used to rally the Pikmin to follow you around. Players can then throw selected Pikmin around to overcome obstacles, carry fruit back to the spaceship, and fight enemies. Each color Pikmin has a different strength and weakness, so it’s up to players to figure out what Pikmin are best for completing a task, how many Pikmin they need, and what Pikmin can do it the quickest.
The game is hard for a number of reasons. First, players are only allowed to have 100 Pikmin out at once, which seems like a high number, but trust me it adds difficulty later in the game when you have four different types of Pikmin. Another addition to the game’s complexity is tasks can only be completed during the day, because large predators come out at night and eat stranded Pikmin. This means there is a time limit, and if you and your Pikmin don’t make it back by sundown, your poor Pikmin get eaten [and then you feel really guilty about it]. Finally, each terrarian has its own set of obstacles which are incredibly difficult to figure out. Sometimes you have to spend one day just looking around a terrarian to figure out what the heck you’re even supposed to do, or how you get to one tiny section of the map! Don’t let the game’s difficulty scare you off though. The game is incredibly well balanced in the sense that it takes me a long time to solve puzzles, but when I finally do manage to solve a puzzle, I’m so invested and having fun while playing the game that I hadn’t noticed that I spent an hour trying to figure it out!
I will say that playing on the Wii U GamePad is even better than playing on the GameCube. Players use a stylus on the GamePad, which means players have an easier time pinpointing exactly where they want to direct Pikmin to go, whereas I remember it being awkward to play on a GameCube controller because you had to use a joystick.
Bingo Battle: Pikmin 3 has a multiplayer portion called “Bingo Battle”. Only two players can play locally (no online version is available), but the disadvantage is one player can use the GamePad but the other is stuck with a Wiimote and nunchuck. You can also use a pro controller, but it feels awkward because the buttons are all reversed and weird. That being said, if you can figure out the controls and get over the fact that the person with the GamePad as the advantage, it’s fun!
Each player is given a bingo card, and the goal is to collect five fruit in a row first. You can try to sabotage your opponent’s goals, or do your best to get five fruit in a row first. The battles do take a while though, like 20 minutes. I’m not sure if that’s feasible for a Teen Game Night Program, especially because my teens would rather play Super Smash Bros with eight friends instead.
Audience: This game is definitely for tweens, teens, and adults. Like I said, it’s a difficult strategy game, and I think it might be too frustrating for really young kids. This is a good game for gamers who enjoy strategy games and also who are fans of the previous games.
Verdict: Core purchase for library collections. I’m not sure how it’ll go at a Game Night because only two people can play at once, but you can give it a try if your teens are tired of Smash or you have a small group of teens around.
Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!
By: Alanna Graves
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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