Pikmin 3. What’s new? Plenty.
Let’s start with the obvious changes and how they influence the gameplay.
Rock and Winged are two new types of Pikmin that have been introduced to the game.
Rock Pikmin are the most durable, toughest of all Pikmin. They’re also the strongest. Throw a Rock Pikmin at a crystalised dome and they will put cracks in and smash through it. Players will encounter a variety of these crystalised domes (and crystallised walls) throughout the game which only Rock Pikmin can penetrate. Some enemies also have a specialised exoskeleton which only Rock Pikmin can smash, exposing a weak-spot.Some creatures will also pounce on your army of Pikmin. Where the standard Red, Yellow, Blue, Purple and White Pikmin will be squished and trampled, Rock Pikmin just get buried in the ground and can pull themselves back up, no harm done.
Rock Pikmin are also effective fighters. They’re not as competent as the Red but they pack a hell of a punch. If you throw a Rock Pikmin at an enemy or object, significant damage will be dealt. This tactic also works well against flying enemies. If timed right, a Rock Pikmin can bring a flying enemy tumbling down to the ground, exposing their weakspots. Using various types of Pikmin at different stages can save plenty of little lives.
The other new type is Winged Pikmin. These guys are constantly flying (no, not THAT kind of flying…) and can carry items to the onion without being hampered by land-creatures. This also means that they’re not restricted by pools of water and can just fly over them without having to wait for the environment to be changed in some way.
Our winged buddies can also attack flying enemies in groups and swarm them if they pester their ground-dwelling cousins.
There also certain types of gate that the Winged Pikmin will need to hold open in order for others to pass.
Fast and useful, these guys are a welcome addition and really change the dynamic of play.
Of course, it’s not just Pikmin that are new. The HD graphics are genuinely splendid and add even more vibrancy and palette to the beautiful worlds Pikmin is renowned for.
On top of all that, there are now three crew mates to control, Captain Charlie, Alph and Brittany.
Having three crewmates changes the gameplay a fair amount (though perhaps not as much as it could have). As a result, Nintendo have chosen to make the experience more puzzle-based than before. Crewmates will need to throw each other over un-bridged ledges and up to higher heights in order to collect key items and solve puzzles. Quite often you will need to portion your Pikmin army off and split them three ways.
This also means that a variety of tasks can be performed at the same time, increasing the effectiveness of your day. For instance, one group can go and collect that pesky, out of reach piece of fruit, another can fight off the enemies protecting it and another group can go off exploring.
Unfortunately, the campaign is only playable with one person which is, in my view, a bit of a missed opportunity. That and none of the crewmates have any specific abilities that change the way they play. Brittany is a botlogist and Alph is a bit of a mechanical fiend, but neither of those professions are used outside of the game’s storyline. A shame…
The GamePad is a critical feature of Pikmin 3 and is the real game-changer as far as the franchise is concerned.
You’ll be relieved to know that, if you so choose, Pikmin 3 can be played entirely via 0ff-TV play.
Or you can use the Wii U GamePad as a convenient second screen to interact with the game. Mirroring the Koppad in the game, the Wii U GamePad is transformed into a one-stop information hub that will make your game all the easier to keep track of.
For starters, the second screen can bring up a huge map of an area. This allows the player to pause the action, view the entire layout of the map, and assess where fruit, hidden artefacts or undiscovered areas can be found. From there, the player can use the stylus or a finger-press to point at an area of the map and automatically send the crew and army of Pikmin there. Players can interrupt that line of movement to attack an enemy or to pick up an item if they wish, but using this auto-trail is a great way of getting from A to B and to, of course, avoid getting lost.
Also on the GamePad are Exploration Notes. Here you can access a full Pikminology. This tells you everything that Pikmin can do (provided you collect data notes from the field). You can also find out about Indigenous Life, as well as Game Controls, Area Hints and a few other story-related surprises.
Players can also see what Pikmin are up to on the field. This is an effective tool for managing your army. For instance, you can see how many are currently following you in your squad, how many are actually working and how many are sitting around idly. Players can also see the ratio of Pikmin to a particular object. For instance, a piece of fruit may only require 5 Pikmin to bring it back to the SS Drake, but 10 of them may be working together to carry it. Of course, if there are more Pikmin carrying an item than requested, this speeds things up and will get the fruit to the Drake faster, but you may not want to work that way and need all available troops to tackle your next objective.
The datapad also allows players to keep tabs on the types of fruit that have been collected. Clicking on each individual fruit will bring up a crew analysis of it. For instance, some crew members prefer types of fruit to others. Other types of fruit will cause allergic reactions in some crew members and some types of fruit also blend well together. The fruit encyclopaedia reveals how much juice can be provided upon the collection of that fruit, It also tells the player how many Pikmin are required to carry it. There are rare, one of a kind, fruit types to be found in the game, so I would imagine players will challenge themselves to find them all. As exciting as that sounds, the fruit section of the game is one area I feel Nintendo could have explored further but i’ll talk a bit about that in expansive development.
That covers most things, but there are also some subtle elements as well. For instance, you can replay your movements at the end of each day. You can get a very quick, birds-eye view of the parts of the map you explored and what you collected. Or you can just look at a graph the game puts together for you at the end of each day.
If you’re not happy with the progress you made, the game also allows you to go back and replay previous days in your diary if you didn’t make the most of a day or you lost too many Pikmin.
There are also several other little tweaks and adjustments that differentiate Pikmin 3 from its predecessors, but we’ll let you discover those for yourselves.