Despite being the console at the center of a very creative period in Nintendo’s long history, the GameCube did not, sales wise, permeate the mainstream in the same way that Sony’s Playstation 2 did. There are plenty of classics on the system that many gamers have never played nor heard of thanks to these sales figures, but now with the Wii climbing ever farther ahead in this generation’s console war, Nintendo decided to (re)introduce these titles, at a budget price and with a few upgrades to make them worthwhile for gamers who have experienced them in the past in their original form.
One of the first of these is Pikmin, a real-time strategy game that released early in the GameCube’s life-cycle and eventually saw a sequel. The brainchild of Shigeru Miyamoto, Pikmin was created based on Miyamoto’s daydreams in his own garden (while our daydreams involve skipping out on work or imagining that the pretty waitress is actually interested in us, Miyamoto daydreams million sellers. If only, huh?).
Mar. 9, 2009
The game revolves around Captain Olimar, who has crash-landed on a strange, alien planet. The air is full of poisonous oxygen, so Olimar has just 30 days to collect his ship’s missing parts and escape before the unimaginable happens to the adorable space pilot.
Olimar stumbles upon an “Onion”, which sprouts a small bud. When he plucks the bud from the ground, a red creature, which he names a Pikmin thanks to its resemblance to a food on his home world, appears. Olimar goes about learning just what the Pikmin can do, and begins to sprout more of these creatures by feeding the onion certain objects and fallen creatures from the environment. You eventually discover two other colors of Pikmin (yellow and blue) and have to use them to fend off enemy creatures, explore further into each region, and eventually discover all of your ship’s parts to Olimar can head back home before time runs out.
Each Pikmin type has different abilities. Red ones are the best fighters, and they are also impervious to fire. Yellow ones jump very high, and can also use powerful bombs on both walls and enemies. The Blue Pikmin have gills, and therefore can breathe underwater, and are also capable of saving your other Pikmin from drowning. In addition, there are three stages to each Pikmin as well. When they are first planted, they have a leaf on their heads, and are basic Pikmin. Either by staying in the ground for a certain amount of time or by acquiring yellow nectar upgrades hidden in the grass and held by certain enemies, your leaf Pikmin can upgrade to have a bud or a flower on their heads. Those with buds and flowers move faster and attack more powerfully than the lower level Pikmin, and will be the first ones jettisoned from their respective Onions at your base when you call for them.
The controls are incredibly simple now that you have use of the Wii Remote. This is a real-time strategy game after all, and there’s a reason those are most effective on the PC rather than on a console with a standard controller. The IR pointer acts in place of a mouse in this updated version of the game, and it does the job well. You can control your army of Pikmin with a speed you could not attain on the standard controller, and you can also aim much more effectively with your throws of the creatures than you could before, making battling more effective and efficient.
You point at the screen with the Wii Remote and press A to throw your Pikmin there. You can wrangle them up with the B button (and at a further range than in the original version of the game, thanks to the IR function of the Wii Remote). Pressing Z will realign the camera, but you can also rotate it like you would on a PC by combining the Z button with the pointer functions of the Wii Remote, giving you a thorough and fast view of the area around you at any time. Disperse your Pikmin into separate groups with the C button, change the camera (there are three separate views: the normal view as well as both zoomed in and zoomed out versions) with the left and right buttons on the Directional Pad, and manually direct your Pikmin in a line with down on the D-pad while pressing C on the Nunchuk.