Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone



Taking aspects of real-time strategy and mixing in some incredibly cute characters in a whimsical environment, Pikmin is an incredibly fun and addictive title for the GameCube. Thanks to its simple interface and intuitive controls, the game is surprisingly accessible yet still offers sophisticated puzzles and complex multi-step tasks to perform. Pikmin also unfolds at a slow pace, making for a leisurely, yet still quite challenging title. This is another sleeper hit for Nintendo with a unique feel all its own and shouldn’t be missed if you’re looking for a nice change of pace.

  The innovative Pikmin is a unique, yet endearing real-time strategy game from Nintendo’s genius developer Shigeryu Miyamoto. While it seems a bit of an odd idea, its appeal is stronger because Pikmin ratchets up the cute-factor ten-fold thanks to its adorable title characters who roam around the forests at your command. In the game, you’re cast as an astronaut Olimar who’s crash-landed on a strange planet and only has a 30 day supply of life-support systems. Complicating things is the fact that Olimar’s ship has shattered into many different pieces and the object of the game is to retrieve all these pieces. This is no easy task since they’ve scattered throughout the world.  However, you are alone on the planet and need some help since you are only a single, very tiny astronaut. Luckily, you encounter a strange group of creatures who seem to be half-plant, half-animal but are in fact neither. These adorable creatures have several interesting traits ans one of the most interesting is that instead of being born, you pluck them from the ground and they grow into the Pikmin. They are incredibly cute and look like tiny multi-colored onions – pay attention to their colors since each of the three Pikmin species colors has their own abilities which come into play later on.

Your main task in Pikmin is to control the species and make them collect the various parts of your ship and other tasks. Up to 100 of them will follow your commands at any given time, though you can have more than that in storage at any point in the process. The real fun of Pikmin comes in making them move the many different objects, fight some of the larger beasts you’ll encounter and also to help you find the pieces of your space ship. There are three types of Pikmin and each one has their own abilities and the more of them you assign to a task, the quicker its completed. The garden-inspired levels are pretty large and more complicated than you’d expect, but the main task is to figure out all the puzzles and how to complete the tasks with the Pikmin at hand. Some of the tasks, such as collecting food chips are relatively simple while others require multiple steps in order to complete. For example, you may have to throw some Pikmin at a larger creature to distract him while you scurry away with the remaining Pikmin to collect an item. The other thing you need to worry about are the many secret areas, which can contain hidden items. You may need to budget multiple days in some areas as well since some of these tasks are quite time-consuming. This is also because you have to keep an eye on the clock, it’s important to gather all the Pikmin together and return them to their ship before the sun sets, or the stranded ones left behind will die or get eaten. 

Fortunately, the Pikmin are surprisingly intelligent and can be assigned to do many different tasks such as knocking down walls or fighting beasts. These moves are mainly accomplished simply by pressing the large green button on the GC controller, making the game very easy to understand. The interface is incredibly simple, with most actions requiring only a button press to complete. Likewise, assembling the Pikmin into a group and assigning them to objects is also simple, with the controls for these functions very easy to understand. In one of the brilliant, understated touches, Olimar blows a whistle to call the Pikmin into his area and any within the radius come under his command. What’s great about the Pikmin is the creatures’ AI is smart enough to makes things simple: they know to attack a beast or carry an object without having to tell them specifically what to do in each instance. Making this even more fun, numbers above certain objects tell you how many Pikmin are needed to perform a certain task such as moving a power-pill which makes life much easier. Overall, the controls are excellent and the game allows you to switch viewpoints for better angles, survey the environment and move your group around with ease. What’s cool about the interface is that you feel like you are the one in control of the Pikmin individually, though in reality they’re reacting to your commands, there are also some other cool touches that makes Pikmin very enjoyable. In addition to all the tasks Pikmin can perform, they can also change shape and grow flowers on their heads when they eat and grow which makes them seem even more alive, in addition to enhancing their abilities. The interface is very well-done and its transparency and intuitiveness makes it incredibly easy to lose yourself in this microscopic yet magical fantasy world.

It is unquestionably a magical world, showcasing the brilliance of design and gameplay that Miyamoto has become famous for. Nothing about the game has been left unpolished and the unique feel of the game and the attention to small details makes this all the more appealing. Pikmin’s graphics are quite charming and cute with excellent character animations. For example, when there’s a large number of Pikmin on the screen, you’ll always have a couple of stragglers running from behind the pack to catch up. Even the large beetle-like enemies seem a bit cute at first, though a bit menacing when they eat the seemingly defenseless Pikmin. The environments themselves are beautiful with brilliantly detailed objects and shifting lighting effects as you progress through the day. This is all wrapped around by charming cinemas which show the Pikmin gathering at their ship and running up the ramps and then blasting off into the safety of outer space at the end of each level. The soundtrack is quite charming as well, with the usual light-hearted Nintendo music making a good compliment to the gameplay. Its highly polished production values and fun gaming environments are beautifully realized, showcasing the GameCube’s power without overwhelming you with needless special effects.

One of the more creative things about Pikmin is that you also get to read Olimar’s Diary at this point and this makes the game seem that much more alive. The many touches like these that makes the game come alive. Another example is that Olimar has to keep an eye on the Pikmin because while they are great in number, they aren’t up to certain tasks. While the blue Pikmin can travel over water with ease, the other types of Pikmin will drown when they come in contact with it. Other Pikmin can be quite slow at points and you might need to make them faster so you can complete tasks before the timer runs out. The Pikmin are also easy prey for the large bugs on the world as well and can be eaten quickly if you’re not careful. The good news is that while its inevitable that you’ll have to sacrifice some of the creatures along the way, they’ll leave seeds behind which you use later on to make new ones. Pikmin is a charming game which mixes real-time strategy with a bit of Lemmings to create a title that is unique, clever and loads of fun. The puzzles are quite engrossing and challenge the player’s skills without being too taxing and this surprisingly relaxed pace makes Pikmin a great change of pace from the usual console experience. What’s more, the non-violent puzzles and gameplay also lets gamers get a feel of natural cycles of birth, death and rebirth in a pleasant manner that isn’t too preachy or educational. This innovative title takes its sweet time getting going, since early levels are basically tutorials, but the effort is worth it. Pikmin is a charming, highly enjoyable game that’s highly engrossing and its innovation and quality of play once again proves the brilliance and creativity of Shigeryu Miyamoto.