We should probably make it clear from the beginning that the vast majority of this review is going to be aimed at those who didn't play Pikmin the first time around. For those of you who did play it, as you'd expect, there isn't much different between this and the GameCube original other than the new Wii controls, widescreen support and the ability to load your save game from any day you've already played.
Armed with this information, Pikmin fans don't need to know any more - whether this new Wii version is worth buying depends entirely on your opinion of the original game and whether you feel it's worth playing through it again with a new (and definitely better) control system. And for those of you without previous Pikmin experience? Read on...
It's hard to define exactly what sort of game Pikmin is. The closest we can do is compare it to a real-time strategy game like Command & Conquer, except instead of playing as an all-seeing 'God' character and controlling soldiers from above, you're in control of a dumpy little spaceman who's in charge of a horde of tiny creatures. But describing Pikmin in that way does it a bit of an injustice, because there's much more to it than that. The problem is that much of the game's charm and appeal can only really be realised when you start playing it and begin to get attached to the little red, yellow and blue creatures you befriend.
I'll Give You Olimar Lovin'
The game puts you in the space-shoes of Captain Olimar, an astronaut whose spaceship is hit by a meteor as he's taking a holiday in space. His ship plummets towards a mysterious, unknown planet and as it enters the atmosphere parts are ripped off the ship and scattered throughout the land. When he emerges from his ship, he encounters the Pikmin, a near-extinct species of tiny creatures with unique abilities. He decides to get the Pikmin to help him recover the 30 missing parts of his ship, while at the same time helping them increase their population and learn to fend for themselves against the other dangerous creatures that live on the planet.
At first you only have a handful of red Pikmin at your disposal. In small numbers, they're not very useful when it comes to defeating enemies, and when you only have a couple they can't really do much except carry small objects. Luckily there are red pellets around which fall into the 'small objects' category. You can command the Pikmin to carry these pellets over to their 'onion' base, which beams them up and converts them into new Pikmin. In this way
you can quickly build up a small army, which
greatly increases your options.
The More The Merrier
Basically, the majority of Pikmin follows a 'strength in numbers' rule. The more Pikmin you have under your control - up to a maximum of 100 at a time - the more easily they can defeat the planet's more powerful enemies and the larger the objects you can get them to carry (including those 30 elusive ship pieces).
With the focus on this Wii re-release strongly aimed at its new control method, it's reassuring that controlling Olimar and the Pikmin with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk is a breeze and much more intuitive than it was with a GameCube controller. As Pikmin's effectively a strategy game - a genre which is usually best suited to a mouse instead of a joypad - the use of the Wii's pointer to control the cursor on the screen makes perfect sense. And it doesn't let us down. It's so simple to point at an item that needs moving or an enemy you want to attack and then press the A button the required number of times to chuck the required number of Pikmin in its direction that you don't even think about it when doing it. Similarly, when Pikmin are scattered in different directions it's easy to call them all to join you by simply holding the B button and sweeping it across the stray Pikmin in question.