Pikmin 3 Review - Tiny, Terrific, Tactical

Jonathan Bolding | 31 Jul 2013 17:00
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More than anything, the game is just enjoyable to play. The creature design is as inspired and whimsical as ever, from flaming slugs to crystal-armored centipedes. You'll find yourself cracking a smile at some particularly strange use of a clipboard somebody left lying around, like when your Pikmin turn it into a makeshift bridge, or when your explorers decide to name a lemon they found a "Zest Bomb." Maneuvering your horde around, dodging attacks, and figuring out how to defeat each new monster is a thrill, and encounters are just hard enough that sometimes you have to retreat, get more Pikmin, and start fresh. The only thing that keeps Pikmin 3 from being as good as possible is the ending, which, without spoiling anything, is a chase-like sequence that feels out of place compared to the lackadaisical, mellow pacing of the rest of the game.

The game's strategy is flexible enough to accommodate all kinds of players, though there's no real difficulty measure, you can judge how skilled you are by how quickly you take on challenges. If you're the type to pull maximum efficiency out of each in game day, then swapping between the three characters, giving them programmed routes, and retrieving all the fruit in minimum possible time will be great for you. If you're not a hardcore strategist, then, well, don't worry. Take your time and you'll probably finish before everyone starves to death.

Sadly, the puzzles aren't particularly difficult. They're fun, sure, and very satisfying to execute once you've figured them out, but none of them are particularly hard to do. You can pretty easily breeze through all of them without getting stuck or stalled, and your only slowdowns will be when you make a mistake and run out of time during a day to finish the puzzle you were working on.

As a sideline to the main story, Pikmin 3's mission mode allows you to hone your tossing skills by attempting set challenges with certain numbers of Pikmin at your disposal. They're challenging, and puzzling, set scenarios where repeated play is both rewarding and enjoyable. You'll often find yourself trying a new strategy on the same map, attempting to shave just a few seconds off of your completion time or up your score. Playing co-op on the mission maps is awesome, with great moments for working together, and makes you wonder why there wasn't a co-op story campaign.

Similar to mission mode, the multiplayer Bingo Battle is a strange event where you don't necessarily compete directly with your opponent, but you do have to compete for limited resources to fill out your score card before they do. It's surprisingly fun, probably more fun than it has any right to be. While it's not endlessly replayable unless you're a real Pikmin enthusiast, it feels like added value or icing on the cake.

Bottom Line: The ending may not be the best thing ever, but it can't tarnish the incredible enjoyment you'll get out of Pikmin 3. This is probably the best game yet on Wii U.

Recommendation: There is absolutely no reason a Wii U owner shouldn't buy Pikmin 3. Armchair puzzlers, tacticians, and lovers of all things cute will be hugely rewarded, as will those who play with their loved ones or family.

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