New Play Control! Pikmin Review for Nintendo Wii

New Play Control! Pikmin Review for Nintendo Wii

It’s been almost eight years since Nintendo launched their little purple lunch box, the GameCube. A month following the system launch, Nintendo released one of their most unique titles ever: Pikmin. With Shigeru Miyamoto acting firsthand as one of the game’s designers, it was no surprise to see Pikmin become something of a sleeper hit amongst Nintendo’s hardcore fan base. Fast-forward to the present, and Nintendo has now re-released the game as part of its New Play Control! series for Wii. After a full generation of consoles past, does this quirky, little adventure still hold up?

New Play Control! Pikmin screenshot

For those folks unfamiliar with Pikmin, you play as Captain Olimar. He’s crash landed on a strange planet and must make his escape before the life support system in his spacesuit fails. You’ve got 30 days to find 30 missing ship parts, but you won’t be alone in the work that lies ahead.

Olimar quickly discovers a friendly group of creatures he affectionately calls Pikmin (named after vegetables his wife picks back on his home planet, Hocotate). The Pikmin seem eager to help Olimar, and the captain’s quest to return safely home quickly gets underway with the help of his new pals.

Pikmin plays as a sort of real-time strategy (RTS) game, though the simplicity of control, as well as a heavy emphasis on environmental puzzles, makes this very much an adventure. You control Olimar with the analog stick on the Nunchuk and command Pikmin with the Wii Remote. You can rally Pikmin to Olimar at any time by pointing at them and pressing the B button. In order to get the Pikmin to attack, pick up objects, or interact with various elements in the environment, you simply toss them with the A button.

New Play Control! Pikmin screenshot

There are three types of Pikmin you’ll eventually gain control over, each with unique attributes and abilities. Red Pikmin can withstand fire and offer the most brawn in battle; yellow Pikmin can be tossed higher and can throw bombs; and blue Pikmin can navigate water. Pikmin also have three stages of maturity – leaf, bud, and flower – and with each new stage of growth, they become faster and stronger. Control is very smooth, and there’s no doubt this New Play Control! Pikmin makes a great model for any and all future RTS titles on Wii.

There are issues that crop up, however, such as Pikmin getting hung up on objects in the environment or Pikmin drowning because they don’t line up narrow enough as a group when traversing paths near water. The camera also takes a bit of getting used to. You can aim the pointer and press the Z button to line the camera in the direction you want to view, but things can get a tad wobbly when you’re trying to make your way quickly past large enemies, etc. There are several vantage points, though, from which you can view the action, and you’ll definitely need to switch between perspectives as you make your way through areas of the forest.

New Play Control! Pikmin screenshot

So, you’ve got 30 days to get your ship back in order before you’re a goner. You’ll only be able to work during the day, since it’s unsafe for the Pikmin to be out at night when the planet’s more dangerous creatures emerge. The Pikmin live in Onion ships, and you call out Pikmin for work by standing under a beam at their landing sites. You’ll first have to build up something of an army by having the Pikmin pick flower caps and return them to the Onion ships. Caps, as well as defeated enemies, are then transformed into new Pikmin sprouts (which you pick from the ground using the A button), and the gathering process is both amusing and addictive.

However, each day only lasts 15 minutes in real-time and, honestly, the time constraint is still very much an albatross throughout the adventure. Chances are folks who are new to the game won’t successfully save Olimar on their first playthrough. In the original Pikmin for GameCube, if you could not retrieve each of the 30 ship parts within the allotted time, there was no going back. This issue has been somewhat rectified by allowing you to go back in time to any of the previous days you’ve already played. However, once you go back to a specific point in time, you’ll have to progress forward from that day – there’s no skipping around. Additionally, anything you’ve gained past that point – ship parts, Pikmin, etc. – won’t carry over with you should you decide to start from a day earlier on in the adventure.

New Play Control! Pikmin screenshot

Aside from the ability to go back in time and the game’s new controls, New Play Control! Pikmin hasn’t evolved at all. This is merely a port, so if you’ve already played the previous iteration, don’t expect a vastly new experience here. The gameplay still holds up, and for those folks who haven’t yet experienced this cute and quirky adventure, there’s plenty to enjoy.

However, Pikmin also shows its age in many ways. There is a radar system, which comes in handy, but micromanagement is very limited. Olimar has to be in the presence of Pikmin to control them, so you can’t simply click on a map and command them from a remote location. It’s a design choice that admittedly adds to the charm of the game, but considering the very limited timeframe within which you have to work, the narrow scope can also make for a lot of tedium and frustration.

On the production front, it’s surprising just how well Pikmin holds up on Wii. Regardless of how early on in GameCube’s lifecycle Pikmin was released, it was obviously one of the system’s prettiest titles. The photo-realistic style still looks quite attractive today, though the closer you zoom in on the environments, the less appealing the game becomes. Leaves, flowers, water – these elements, though, are still very impressive and look as good as anything else we’ve seen on Wii.

The aural presentation has been, and always will be, a wonderful addition to Nintendo’s library of themes. There aren’t any grand orchestrations as heard in Super Mario Galaxy, but the music here sounds great and works perfectly alongside the strange and mysterious world of Pikmin. All of the ambient sound effects and creature noises blend together to lend a relaxing and immersive backdrop for the adventure.

New Play Control! Pikmin (and soon-to-be-released Pikmin 2) seems to be Nintendo’s way of introducing the series to its new legion of Wii owners before the inevitable unveiling of Pikmin 3. For those folks who’ve already experienced the game, perhaps there isn’t enough here to warrant a purchase. After all, New Play Control! Pikmin 2 is already lined up for release, and like its GameCube counterpart, it’s sure to be the better game. However, for anyone who hasn’t yet had a chance to give Pikmin a go, this is a great opportunity to jump into the series. The new Wii controls work great, and though the production values have aged a bit, it’s still a fine game worth going back to.

For a port of a GameCube game, Pikmin’s visuals still hold up surprisingly well. A smooth framerate and excellent art style allow you to easily get lost in the gameplay. 4.2 Control
It’s a simple yet great way to implement controls in a Wii RTS… perhaps a bit too simplistic in its design, though. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is as endearing as it ever was. Creature and Pikmin sounds are wonderful, and the forest truly comes alive. 3.9

Play Value
The gameplay, premise, and presentation of Pikmin are very enjoyable, but it’s a fairly short adventure, and at $30, it’s not necessarily a bargain for a game we’ve already seen before.

4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • With newly added Wii motion controls, players simply point the Wii Remote controller at the screen to wrangle an army of Pikmin and put them to work.
  • The New Play Control! features open this highly rated Nintendo GameCube game to a new generation of players while giving players who loved it the first time a new way to experience it.
  • Players take command of up to 100 Pikmin and order them to swarm dangerous predators, demolish barriers, and haul critical parts back to their ship. The game combines action and strategy with fun characters.

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