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Pikmin (GameCube) artwork

Pikmin (GameCube) review

"In your search to find the ship parts, you must, of course, rely on the Pikmin to help you through your tasks. Up to 100 may be in the field at any time, either following (or fighting with) Olimar, laying idle, breaking down gates, or carrying objects back to their..."

Shigeru Miyamoto. When you hear this name, what do you think of? Mario? Zelda? Haha, of course you do! But seriously, this man - a famed Nintendo developer, considered by many to be the most creative mind in videogame history - is in my mind a genius, a man who possesses the ability to take a seemingly ludicrous idea and turn it into one of the most magical gaming experiences ever. And that's exactly what's happened with his latest masterpiece, Pikmin.

Apparently, Miyamoto got the idea for Pikmin by watching a group of ants in his backyard working together in their daily tasks. And the basic premise of the gameplay revolves around that aspect: working together to get the job done. The story begins with a small astronaut (I mean small; the manual says he's the size of a quarter!) who stupidly bumps into an asteroid and sends his miniature ship crashing into an earth-like planet, scattering the parts across the landscape. When he, Captain Olimar, exits his capsule - which suspiciously is in decent condition - and begins to explore the planet, he eventually finds a leaf sprouting from the ground. Pulling it out, he finds it to be a tiny half-plant, half-animal creature, which he names a ''Pikmin.'' By growing more of the strange lifeforms, and discovering that they obey his every command, he (or you, I should say) is able to find his ship's engine nearby, just one of 30 pieces, so he can return to the atmosphere for the night. So, because oxygen is deadly to Olimar, and his life-support system will only function for another 29 days, it is up to you, as Olimar, to find the remaining 29 pieces so he can return to his home planet, and all the while discovering the intricacies of Pikmin.

In your search to find the ship parts, you must, of course, rely on the Pikmin to help you through your tasks. Up to 100 may be in the field at any time, either following (or fighting with) Olimar, laying idle, breaking down gates, or carrying objects back to their ''Onions,'' which serve as their homes. There are three types of Pikmin: red, blue, and yellow. The red Pikmin are the warriors; they are mainly used for battling enemies, breaking down gates, or carrying objects. They will be the ones you use the most, and keeping their population up is key. The blue Pikmin are the only ones able to survive in the water - the others will drown. The yellow Pikmin's advantage is the ability to weild bomb rocks, which can blow up certain walls, but they are also the lightest Pikmin, able to be thrown high and far. Using each type effectively in solving the numerous puzzles adds a lot of strategy to the game.

It seems that Miyamoto, who designed the GameCube controller, had in mind the control scheme for Pikmin the entire time. Olimar is moved with the control stick, and lightly pressing it will move the cursor. The A button is used to throw your Pikmin, who will land in the basic area of your cursor. Y brings up the menu screen, Start the pause screen, and X ''idles'' the Pikmin, grouping them into separate crowds by color. Moving the cursor over a group of Pikmin (or just one) and pressing B will call them back to you. The L and R buttons control the camera - L centers it and R zooms in/out. And of course, the C-stick: by rotating it, you can move the Pikmin around Olimar, and, if you move them towards an object, they will think of what to do themselves; basically, it's just a quicker way of assigning tasks, instead of using the A button to throw them.

One of the main complaints you will hear people say is that the game is too short. Quite frankly, it is. Because of the 30 day time limit, you only have roughly 15 hours of play time before you finish it (or less if you're good). Although it's necessary, since otherwise you could spend one day finding all the pieces in an area and growing hundreds of Pikmin, the roughly 20 minutes a day is a little short...BUT, it adds a huge amount of strategy to the already strategic title, making the most important skill needed to beat the game time management. You need to have several groups of Pikmin working on different tasks if you hope to accomplish what you want to, and this is perhaps Pikmin's greatest triumph.

The graphical environments, although not to the GameCube's full potential, are awesome. Since you are looking at the world from an ant's perspective, everything is huge as heck. Blades of grass are twice your height, and a simple puddle of water can seem like a large pond. Hardly anything looks out of place, and everything comes together to make a wonderful environment during Olimar's adventure. Up to 100 Pikmin can be following Olimar at once, with no framerate drop whatsoever (I have noticed a couple, which really weren't noticable anyway), and the lighting effects are wonderful. Overall, a spectacular effort went into the visuals, and it shows.

The sound is just as good, with soft, soothing melodies encompassing the background, and cries and shrills of tiny Pikmin responding to their surroundings. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the sound, period.

Overall, Miyamoto turned what some criticized as a drug-induced idea into a wonderful, amazing title that, although short, keeps you interested as you play through its non-linear quest, choosing what to do every day as you please, and is worth at least a rental for any GameCube owner, and even for casual gamers who aren't afraid of playing a lighthearted, colorful, FUN title.

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Staff review by Zack M (Date unavailable)

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