"Captain Olimar, a tiny space alien, is a manipulative bastard. Upon crash landing on a strange planet, Olimar discovers the Pikmin – little plant creatures that are so brainless they would march to their deaths if Olimar forced them to. And sometimes Olimar does. He has only thirty days to find all the pieces of his ruined space ship, and he needs the help of the Pikmin to carry these pieces, and if some Pikmin need to die to achieve this... then so be it. "
Captain Olimar, a tiny space alien, is a manipulative bastard. Upon crash landing on a strange planet, Olimar discovers the Pikmin – little plant creatures that are so brainless they would march to their deaths if Olimar forced them to. And sometimes Olimar does. He has only thirty days to find all the pieces of his ruined space ship, and he needs the help of the Pikmin to carry these pieces, and if some Pikmin need to die to achieve this... then so be it.
Sure, Olimar helps kick-start their breeding programs, by ordering them to collect special pellets that will spawn more Pikmin – these creatures are too stupid to propagate by themselves. Olimar doesn’t care about this, though. He just needs enough Pikmin to carry the parts of his space ship back to the wreck so he can go home.
Once, Olimar accidentally led some red Pikmin through water, not realising this would kill them; he did not know that only the blue ones could swim. Ten stupid Pikmin marched to their deaths, and as their screams of tortured agony cried out for the better part of a minute, Olimar did not think to save them. He was already cursing his luck – now he’d have to go back and breed some more.
Olimar knows he has to find thirty parts of his ship and he has thirty days to do it. And the days are short. There’s little time for exploring the beautiful gardenlike world, with its strange caves and plants, beyond searching for ship parts. There’s no time for compassion. There’s no time to care about the lives of a few pathetic little creatures. There’s only the frustration that their deaths have slowed him down.
And so it is for that reason that Olimar tries to take better care of the Pikmin. He’ll throw them at giant insects in a surprise attack (both for the insect and the Pikmin) and they will fight and then drop to the ground and just stand there, allowing themselves to be eaten if Olimar doesn’t call them back to safety.
It is much like controlling a group of drunken people. As your group emerges from one pub to look for another, you realise they have forgotten basic survival skills. They might run across city streets crowded with taxis, or pick fights with people in much larger groups. They’ll stumble and stagger all over the place, and you might need to pick up the stragglers so no one gets left behind.
If you’ve ever had an experience similar to this, then you might be able to empathise with what Captain Olimar has to deal with. Only, it’s not just a night out on the town, this is life or death. Olimar’s studies of the Pikmin show some curiosity – he learns that the reds are better fighters, the blues can swim, and the yellows can be thrown higher and can use the exploding rocks, useful for knocking down stone walls. Olimar is a pragmatist. He needs to know these things if he’s going to survive.
Of course, Olimar’s quest for survival can be taken in a different way. Maybe he genuinely does care, feels blessed to learn about these strange creatures, and feels humbled at their willingness to sacrifice their lives just to help him get home.
Pikmin is a game that can show you your true self. Olimar’s thoughts above were not his – they were my thoughts as I was playing as Olimar, as he truly is a character you can put yourself into. Whether you are compassionate or pragmatic, Olimar’s behaviour is the same. He still needs the Pikmin, and Pikmin are going to die along the way.
But never on purpose. Unless you are really sick.
The truth is, the game’s time limit feels so restrictive, that if I make a big mistake and lose a whole lot of Pikmin to a stupid mistake, I’m not going to go back and rebuild the population. I’m just going to quit and reload from my last save and try again. But I don’t get frustrated. I just see it as my chance to try a different technique. As the game progresses, the environmental puzzles for reaching the ship parts get more and more complex, and require you to utilise the strengths of all three Pikmin types, and possibly make more mistakes as you find the best way to proceed.
A lot of games that require you to control up to 100 units at any one time can be tedious, especially on consoles. Pikmin is not one of those games. No complaints can be made against the control scheme here. This port does away with the GameCube controller (seriously, you can’t even select this as a control option) and replaces it with the Wii-mote. I can remember playing the GameCube version years ago, and I wasn’t a fan of the controls.
Even back then, it seemed like Pikmin was designed for the Wii-mote, and this could very well be the case as the Wii was initially conceived in 2001 (the same year as Pikmin was originally released) by Miyamoto as a way to offer a different gaming experience – but all they had was the GameCube with its normal controller.
I am a Nintendo cynic. I don’t like the way they rehash their titles all the time for a quick dollar. I’m not even a fan of the Wii-mote generally – I did not like the idea of playing a Legend of Zelda game with one. I was even sceptical of rereleasing a GameCube game for the Wii (when the system can play GC games). So when I say that New Play Control! Pikmin is how the game should be played, and that it is better than the original, you know I’m being honest.
Community review by jerec (January 06, 2011)
On very rare occasions, Jerec finds a game that inspires him to write stuff about. The rest of the time he just hangs around being sarcastic.
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