Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 12/02/01 | Genre: Strategy
They're cute, they're cuddly, they'll bash in the brains of a giant lady bug for you and feed it to their young! What are they? Pikmin! This latest addition to the GCN's family of first-person titles is an addiction. Once you pick up the controller and see the little sprouts with their big ears and big eyes, you will be hooked.
At first play, Pikmin seems like it would be an easy play all the way through. However, after you save the game once, you are hit with time constraints and a few more skills to garner. In case you live in a hole and haven't heard about this amazing title, here is the run-down. You, a big-headed, big-nosed, vertically challenged space cadet get hit by a meteor and crash land on a strange planet. You can't breathe the air and your craft is missing 30 of its essential parts. You figure that you have 30 days to survive and fix your space ship. However, since everything on the planet is at least three times your size, you're pretty screwed. Screwed, that is, until you come across an odd shaped object that ejects seeds when you get close (you aptly name it an onion.) After you pick the sprout, it becomes a wide-eyed bipedal creature that appears to want to help you (you name it a Pikmin after your favorite brand of carrots- you clever dog, you.) You use the Pikmin to rebuild your ship, fight off enemies and generally to be your slaves in this strange environment. (Sounds a little like the Hutus in Rwanda, but we won't go there.)
Anyway, once you master the control of these little guys, you are able to use them to just about anything you want. The controls are easy, since the Pikmin have so much AI that they pretty much do what they want when they approach an object. Luckily, most of the time, what they want to do is what you want them to do. The addition of different colored Pikmin with different skills allows you to delegate responsibility. The only way to survive is to have different groups of Pikmin doing different things. For example, one group could be whacking down a wall, while one group collects food for the Onion so it will sprout more seeds, and another group could be kicking the snot out of a ladybug so you all don't die. It is all about management, baby.
The environments are amazing, looking more like a Toy Story goes to Mars movie than a video game, but that is the power of GameCube. You have complete control over the camera angles, and by holding down L you can have the camera follow you around at a perfect distance (I love when games do that.) The only thing that I wish was different about this game is that I wish it would have come out with the launch of the GCN so it could have interrupted some of my obsessive Luigi's Mansion playing.
The odd thing about Pikmin is that there was hardly an opening cinema and no tutorial until after you are playing the game. Being a gamer, I never read instruction manuals and I don't generally like games that require me to do so. Pikmin seems like it is a trial and error sort of game. It is just sad when you lose some of your Pikmin to the water or to the beasties on the planet. I am thrilled with the originality of this game. It is unlike any other game I have ever played. It is challenging enough for anyone, but it gives you enough time to get used to the controls. It requires careful planning, because as you will discover from the beginning, time creeps up on you very quickly.
To make a long story a little longer, Pikmin is a great title. I think everyone should own it because it looks like the replayability is going to be phenomenal. So, if you are looking for something different that is total eye candy, check out Pikmin--another genius stride in game play from the folks at Nintendo.