Pikmin

Video Game Review: Pikmin for Gamecube
By Noah Diekemper

Pikmin, released in 2001 for the Nintendo Gamecube, was a quirky, innovative, adventure/puzzle/RPG that has since spawned…well, one sequel, but let’s keep our fingers crossed for E3 2011.

Back to this game, I have to say that I absolutely love it. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I found it on the used Gamecube rack at Gamestop for $10, except that Olimar was a fun character in Brawl and $10 seemed a reasonable price.

At first, I wasn’t terribly dazzled by the premise, and struggled with the controls. As the game went along, however, and I obtained all the Pikmin colors, the game really started to open up for me. I grew accustomed to the controls and started to really enjoy some of the challenges they threw out.

You play as Captain Olimar (incidentally, a partial anagram of “Mario”), an employee of Hocotate Freight who crash lands on a distant, uncharted planet who atmosphere contains Oxygen, which is toxic to Olimar. He has thirty days before his life-support systems fail and thirty pieces of his ship to find to render his ship, the Dolphin (incidentally the codename for the Gamecube), flyable.

Fortunately, to aid him in his search, he discovers plant-animal creatures he names Pikmin (incidentally, a word whose consonants are the same as those in Pokémon) which he plucks from the ground and can use to break down barriers, build bridges, kill predators, and carry ship parts. Olimar, it turns out, is so weak in and of himself that he can’t even jump, though the Pikmin more than make up for that.

The more I played it, the more I enjoyed it. I discovered the unlockable Challenge mode, which I thought was a nice touch the make the game feel well-rounded.

When I had finished the Adventure mode, I noticed I received a score card relating my Pikmin, ship parts, etc; then I noticed a high score board, and the game just fell into place. I have played through it three times now and think that this game did a marvelous job of blending the adventure/story and arcade/high score elements together to make something with incredible replay value that is incredibly fun. Furthermore, even on my third playthrough I was still discovering new enemies and areas.

Another thing; almost every annoyance I had with the game dissipated over time. I learned how to use the controls and how to implement the C-stick move (as opposed to throwing them individually), I learned you could tap ‘B’ to skip log entries; my only annoyance left is that when a large number of blue Pikmin enter the water the sound effect sounds like the game is crashing.

The music is quirky, hard to describe, and really a matter of taste. One thing I could definitely say, though, is that they did a good job of matching music towards stages, especially in the final level.

The gameplay character graphics (especially Olimar) are lacking, though, as most work will be done from the broadest camera angle, they shouldn’t irk many players. The enemies, water, and backgrounds, though, are beautiful in style and detail.

Granted, this game is not perfect. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wish the game had let you save initials to story and challenge mode high scores; I also think a hard mode, say, where Pikmin remain leaves, all thirty parts are necessary to live, and Olimar only replenishes health at the end of day, would have been a logical addition.

Still, this game is a whole lot of fun. In the month or so I’ve had it I’ve beaten it four times and still love it. The length of it is perfect so that when playing through it the first time, people genuinely feel like they’re getting a full gameplay experience (at least by the Gamecube’s standards), and when they replay it, they don’t get bored feeling like it’s too long to replay for high score value.

Overall, this is an unbelievably fun game that you can play through again and again with no lost entertainment value, and I cannot wait to play Pikmin 2.

Final Score: 9.5/10

*Ninth Favorite Game of All Time (Until I play Pikmin 2, of course : )*

Reviewer’s Completion: Olimar saved four times; “The Happy Ending” achieved three times; Surviving Pikmin High Score: 1783; Least Amount of Pikmin Killed High Score 422; Ship Parts-Day Ratio High Score: 30/19; Total Pikmin Ever Sprouted: 8345; Challenge Mode High Scores: The Impact Site: 171; The Forest of Hope: 280; The Forest Naval: 148; The Distant Spring: 182; The Final Trial: 170.

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