Lemmings 3D, wait…I mean Pikmin, provides a healthy break from the mayhem that is console gaming today. Take a step back from all the guns, violence, eye candy, and 50+ hours of gameplay, and what kind of game are you left with? A game that makes you think. That’s what you have, and that’s what Pikmin is. Granted, it’s not exactly the mystery of faster-than-light travel that you are trying to unravel, but the situations you are faced with in Pikmin do force you to use that muscle in your head. Where are my manners, though? You ask…what sort of situations? What muscle is in my head? What the hell are Pikmin? How do I move faster than light? Young grasshopper, the answers will soon be revealed.
The player takes control of my dear friend, Captain Olimar, who has crash-landed on planet Earth. With your ship in shambles, a thirty-day reserve of supplies, and an intense will to survive, you must set out on your journey to repair your ship to the point that it can return home. Unfortunately for you, each of the thirty pieces you must obtain are too big for you to carry alone, not to mention in hard-to-reach places. Fortunately for you, quickly upon exploring your surrounding you stumble upon an odd red plant saucer flowery-looking thing. How is that fortunate? It turns out the “onion” is where the curious race of Pikmin live.
Coming in three varieties, the Pikmin are the key to your survival, hence the name of the game. You lead the Pikmin around, using them to perform a variety of tasks, but most importantly, having them carry your missing parts back to your ship.
Each of the Pikmin colors is suited to certain tasks. Having a rough time with napalm, a fire-breathing bug, or a field of fiery geysers? Command an army of red Pikmin, and you will prevail as they undauntedly brave the flames. Occasionally, your progress will be impeded by a wall of stone or a tall cliff. In these cases you might want to break out the yellow Pikmin, whose ability to handle “bomb rocks” makes them invaluable. Their large ears also help them to catch the wind, making them easier to throw up to higher elevations. The Pikmin of the blue variety thrive in aquatic environments. As the only Pikmin who can travel through water without drowning, they are the elite Navy SEALs of your army. Any mission that requires traversing a pond will require the aid of the great blue army.
The graphical aspect of Pikmin isn’t anything that will cause your chin to hit the floor, but it fits the character of the game. It’s presented in a cute, colorful, and comical style that matches the audience to which the game is marketed. As far as sound goes, there still isn’t anything to go crazy over. Sounds remain true to the character of the game, but you won’t be cranking up the volume just so you can hear the music. The controls, both for the camera and Olimar, are simple to learn, but leave you with an abundance of skills to achieve your mission.
Young children are able to appreciate the game’s relative ease, but more experienced gamers will have some interesting challenges to await them. A game that is easy to learn, but difficult to master, Pikmin is a very good choice if you are looking for a game to tickle your fancy. It’s cheap now, too, so it won’t empty your wallet if you decide to purchase it. Pikmin 2 will be coming out soon, though…