Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pikmin 3 Review (Gaming Grunts)

It's downright surreal that it's been a little over a year since Pikmin 3 finally came out. I waited nine years for this, y'know? Year after year, being baited at every E3 following Miyamoto's "we're making Pikmin" comment, only to be let down each and every time...and it's here. The lack of promotion has performed favors to no one but the aforementioned surreality: I'm still shocked that we never got an Iwata Asks for the game (given their love of discussion for "upending the tea table," I'm sure many interesting tales were begging to be revealed), and I'm saddened that the CGI theater shorts for Japan never came to fruitition. In a way, the game's launch was something akin to the coming and going of an intense fever dream.

Pikmin 2 on the Gamecube remains one of my most cherished Nintendo experiences. The way the series contrasts its starring of bright, inquisitive creatures (the titular Pikmin) with the bleakness of survival and death in an alien environment is nothing sort of extraordinary, and I still think it's at its strongest here. Never mind the sporadic indications that the mysterious planet is likely a post-apocalyptic Earth--for how much flak they got, the central treasure-spelunking cave sequences were by far my favorite aspect. They alone invoked so much imagination and wonder in how their individual floors--each with environments that would be impossible to gel together in reality--layered upon each other via playrooms, mountainous canyons, shower rooms, and grassy gardens. At the very least, when comes to Nintendo's array of artistic inspiration and splendor, the Pikmin series reigns supreme. The whole experience even compelled me to pen and plan an ambitious fanfiction celebrating this aesthetic direction, and much like my "Mario 64 is a parallel universe" theory, it's something that still prods at the back of my mind to this very day.

After nine years of waiting, there was no way Pikmin 3 was going to live up to my own hardened sense of canon and imagination. But why should it, when does such a stellar job of bridging together a perfect middle ground between the first two titles? Maybe it is a little too easy, but the sheer flexibility of how you can tackle the game is just stunning to me. I can forge my own rules each and every time, and it never gets old.

Even if it just barely misses my personal heights of Pikmin 2, it's a game that still wholly captures my whimsy. I love stumbling upon the wall etchings. I love that the "wraith" concept from Pikmin 2 is built upon. I love the creature designs, not the least of which the Dandelion-sprouting Medusal Slurker. I adore the haunting cave music, chimes and all. I will never forget my first foray into the Garden of Hope. The camera feature is nothing less of a godsend, and I dearly hope that if a sequel should ever be made, its addition is a top priority.

The lack of online for the Bingo Battle mode remains the game's only flaw. Even if we were to believe Nintendo's connection concerns regarding the game's AI, that they see it as no consequence is troubling. To this day, I remain amazed at how Nintendo games anyone would automatically assume to have online play--including the likes of Nintendo Land, Star Fox 64 3D, and Hyrule Warriors--don't have it, and yet titles one would never expect to feature it somehow do (Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Bayonetta 2, and to an extent Kid Icarus: Uprising). I am, of course, ever grateful for those latter examples, but for Bingo Battle to forever languish within the confines of couch multiplayer is a sad thing indeed.

But I still play Mission Mode every weekend, so that should make up for it, right? Regardless, my full Leave Luck to Heaven-exclusive review of Pikmin 3 is on the way, and I have much to say, so stay tuned.

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