PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A CUT-DOWN VERSION OF THE FULL PIKMIN 3 REVIEW, AVAILABLE IN OFFICIAL NINTENDO MAGAZINE 98, ON SALE 31 JULY
I've found myself coming over all fruity, thanks to Shigeru Miyamoto's latest foray into the world of miniature heroes. Worse still, I've trundled yet further into the realms of the downright strange. On multiple occasions I've found myself entranced by the wobbly sway of a fat enemy behind, marching like a metronomic mistress ahead of me. Geez, I've really got to shake this off. Thanks a bunch, Photo Cam!
Once Upon A Pikmin
The story goes that the people of Koppai are running out of fruit juice and have sent probes out into the ever expanding void of cold space. After years of searching, one probe finally locates the blue planet PNF-404.
The prologue movie and even the title screen deliver a sumptuous teaser that will leave you salivating for the main event which, initially at least, is underwhelming. From the glistening tranquillity of a forest glade title screen to the barren and graphically weak opening crash site, you can't help but feel a little bit disheartened.
Your main priority for the first part of the game is finding your colleagues. They will die if they don't get fruit juice, but so will you, of course, so your time is split between exploration and the process of finding fruit.
The daytime dilemmas are nothing compared to the nocturnal nasties, though. Your day consists of sunrise to sundown (roughly 20 minutes of actual gameplay), at which point any Pikmin not under your control will be left on the planet's surface to fend for themselves. Pikmin corralled and safely in their Onion home, you take off, drink your daily ration of fruit juice and plan for the next day. And when we say plan, we do mean plan.
Pikmin 3 is a strange one, in that we recommend you don't use the GamePad as your main control device. The Wii Remote and Nunchuk are the way to go, then, but the map is constantly on display on the GamePad screen and you'll need it propped up on the table in front of you. During the day you can drag the map at any time to explore the map. One touch of the screen pauses the gameplay and the TV mimics your GamePad movements. In this way you can tell members of your team to head off to a certain part of the map while you do something else.
Earlier in the review we mentioned that the opening area was somewhat disappointing. It's a testament to the game's charm that you soon forget about it. Before you know it you'll be cooing at the marvel of each new area. One moment of noteworthy splendour occurs when you head out towards a beach and then turn around to look back at the forest behind you. It's a simple scene, but a glorious graphical moment nonetheless, the scope of which was never possible with less powerful consoles.
Pikmin types dictate where you can and can't explore in the game's four continents, but they play a far less significant role in the multiplayer Bingo Battle mode. At its most basic the new mode sees you collecting items from bespoke arenas in an attempt to complete a line on your bingo card. In reality, it's a clever combination of Pikmin and Mario Kart multiplayer and yes, it really is as good as it sounds.