With the exception of manually directing your Pikmin, a function that was formerly controlled with the GameCube’s C stick, all of these controls are improvements, in many cases vast ones, to the original. While the D-pad/C button combination works-especially since you can now see just how you can adjust your Pikmin in a line behind or in front of you thanks to guiding lines on the screen-if you are used to the subtle movements necessary with the C stick, it will take some getting used to the new format. Players new to the Pikmin series on Wii will have no trouble though, as they won’t know the difference.
The controls are not the only new change to the game though. New Play Control! Pikmin has true 16:9 widescreen support and also outputs at 480p, which should make playing these GameCube classics on HD televisions a more appealing prospect. Graphically, the game has held up very well, especially when you consider that this was a game released in 2001. Textures suffer under scrutiny up close, but at either the regular or zoomed out camera viewpoints, the game looks gorgeous. Little touches, like rusty tin cans or cardboard boxes that remind you that the “alien” planet is actually Earth, and Olimar and the Pikmin are just very small, are well done and welcome additions to the environment. They add to the sense of exploration that is central to this title; you’re on a time limit, but exploration is the only way to find all of your ship’s parts and find your way off of this planet.
The charming sound effects now come through the Wii Remote speaker if you like, though you have the option of turning this off and having them come through the television speakers as they normally would. Both the sound effects and the soundtrack are of high quality and charming. The soundtrack may be one of the best in Nintendo’s deep catalog actually, and adds as much to the game as the visuals do. Those who have played the original will be hit by the nostalgia bug when the opening theme and music from the Impact Site start to come through your speakers.
The most important change besides the controls though may be that you can now restart from any day you would like. There are 30 parts and 30 days to collect all of them, meaning you need to keep a pace of at least one part per day in order to succeed with Pikmin. In the original game, failure to keep this pace or find all 30 parts in 30 days meant you lost, and would have to start over. Granted, the title isn’t the longest out there, so this wasn’t a huge deal, but it artificially restricted the length of the game; that was a turnoff for many reviewers and gamers that played the original. Being able to restart from any day may keep you from restarting and putting more time into the game overall, but it will also keep you from repeating sections over from the beginning.
In addition to the regular game mode, there is also a high score mode where you compete to see how many Pikmin you can grow in a single day. This mode is still just as addicting as it was in the original version, and now that you can move that much quicker and more efficiently with the Wii Remote instead of a GameCube controller, the scores should soar. The lone complaint is that the high scores are not tracked on a Nintendo Wi-Fi leaderboard, as it would have given some of the people who have already played the game another reason to buy it while adding to the list of useful new features.
The worst thing you can say about New Play Control! Pikmin is that it isn’t New Play Control! Pikmin 2. The sequel is longer, does away with the time limit, has loads more features, two playable characters, multiplayer, and new forms of Pikmin and creatures to discover and experiment with and on. That doesn’t mean you should avoid this game and wait for the release of the second entry in the series though, as this game, especially at $30, is a steal. Try walking into a GameStop and finding a copy of the original Pikmin; better than that, try going in and spending a significantly lower amount on it than you would a brand new copy of the superior version.
Even if you played the original, the inclusion of 16:9 widescreen and 480p support along with the improved features and controls should be enough to sway you, assuming you were into the GameCube release. For those who have never experienced Pikmin before, this is a wonderful way to jump in and see just what all the fuss is about, especially with Shigeru Miyamoto announcing at last year’s E3 convention that a brand new Pikmin for Wii was in the works.
[Ed. Note: While the screens in the gallery are not 16:9, the game itself utilizes true 16:9, not stretched.]