When you start the game you will begin at the crash site, you will find a strange looking tripod type thing with some small plant like beings buried in the ground below the tripod. The tripod is known as an Onion and the plant like creatures are Pikmin. The first type you will find will be the red Pikmin, who are well adapted to fighting ferociously and withstanding very high temperatures. Later in the game you will find Yellow then Blue Pikmin. Yellow Pikmin are very light so you can throw then higher than the other Pikmin and they can also carry and detonate rock bombs. Blue Pikmin are able to walk and swim in water without drowning. You maybe thinking this all sounds very strange and you may also be wondering what type of game this is, well, its a combination of a couple of genres Real Time Strategy and Puzzle. I believe it adds another dimension of a life form simulator as all your Pikmin must be well looked after and respected, not to mention breaded in the correct way to have the best and maximum effect.
There are two ways to bread Pikmin, you may feed the Onions dead creatures that you have killed with your Pikmin or you can feed the Onions different coloured pellets that can be found lying around or in plants. The pellets have numbers on; this indicates the number of Pikmin needed to carry the pellet back to the Onion and the number of Pikmin that will be produced from that pellet. The best results come when you have red Pikmin carry back red Pellets to the red Onion or say yellow Pikmin carry yellow pellets back to the yellow Onion. This will create more Pikmin than you expect. If the pellet has 5 written on it and you use this method you will usually get double the amount, 10. You can also use that same method with the dead creatures although the results dont always works so well.
If you need more red Pikmin you must make sure there are more red Pikmin carrying the creature that any other colour as it will be taken to the wrong Onion. Basically the majority counts when carrying dead creatures back to the Onions.
This is one of the most important aspects of Pikmin because you will find that the quantity of Pikmin you have makes a massive difference to how well you do.
Of course to have to manage you Pikmin very well or you will find yourself struggling to keep your Pikmin numbers up. Managing your Pikmin is the most important and enjoyable part of the game. Before I enter this area of the game play I will explain the controls so it should make more sense.
The Control Stick is used to control Olimar and the cursor. Tilt the stick slightly to move the cursor and tilt the stick fully to control Olimar. When Olimar moves the Pikmin will follow. The C stick is used for controlling the Pikmin while they are following Olimar. Once a Pikmin has been thrown you will not be able to control the Pikmin.
The A button has three uses; firstly you are able to pick a planted Pikmin for under the Onion. If you press the A button continuously while picking the Pikmin Olimar will run around and pull all the Pikmin from the ground. Secondly press the A button to throw Pikmin. Thirdly if you hold down the A button all the Pikmin will line up by colour.
The B button will call Pikmin that have been thrown and left or Pikmin that are in the middle of battle or carrying objects. The longer the B button is held the broader the call area becomes.
The X button will dismiss all the Pikmin and separate them by colour. They will wait where you have dismissed them until you call them back again.
The Y button will bring up Olimars monitor. This will show you how many Pikmin are with Olimar by colour and how many are in the Onions by colour. Later in the game it will also show a map of the area and the locations of parts.
The shoulder buttons on the controller are all used for the camera controls.
L button will rotate the camera. The R button will zoom the camera in and out and the Z button will change the camera angle. Even with these camera controls the scenery can occasionally block your view.
As mentioned above managing the Pikmin is extremely important. You must use the different coloured Pikmin to the best of their ability. If there is water surrounding a ship part you will have to use the blue Pikmin for some if not most of that job. When you play the game for the first time you will quickly realise you must start to do multiple tasks at the same time in order to finish the game. On average you will need to retrieve one part per day, you will also have to keep an eye on you Pikmin numbers so you dont find yourself using up all your resources breading more Pikmin when you are short.
Your Pikmin can also evolve, when you start Pikmin will have a green leaf on their head, as the Pikmin develop the leaf will change to a flower bud and then eventually into a flower. You can evolve Pikmin in a few different ways, if you leave the new Pikmin in the ground they will slowly develop. The quickest way is to find some nectar that is usually dropped by angel like creatures and let your Pikmin drink it, this will produce flower Pikmin very quickly. Beatles will also drop nectar and other goodies of you throw Pikmin directly at them. The more advanced your Pikmin is the faster they will move. This makes a massive difference when things have to be carried. This enables you to carry more out in one day that would be otherwise possible.
This game looks fantastic, each of the levels look just like real life gardens with different grass and flowers and areas of water (puddles) which all have great shadows.
The Pikmin are greatly detailed even though they look such simply characters. Even with one hundred Pikmin on the screen the frame rate keeps a very smooth 30fps.
One of the best things that lets you appreciate the surroundings and the Pikmin is the zoom facility in the camera. You can zoom right in on a couple of Pikmin and Captain Olimar to get truly outstanding visuals. Without the visuals this game would not have the same effect on the player, it looks just like a wilderness in parts, you become attached to your Pikmin because the environments can have such devastating effects on your Pikmin, it feels almost real. This game has a real personality, although the Pikmin may look cute the game can be very dark and after all its a battle for survival for both Captain Olimar and the Pikmin. There is no point in leaving the house to look at the garden because this looks so much better than the real thing.
The sound isnt too shabby either. The music is very ambient and relaxing but over this you will hear Pikmin fighting screaming animals as they die, even the Pikmin can be heard when some are lost in the heat of battle, you will be left with the haunting scream of dieing Pikmin for ages to come.
This game is one of the best I have ever played and it is such a refreshing change from anything else I have ever played or thats on the market at the moment. Shigeru Miyamoto is a genius, how anyone can think of and create such a game is beyond me, Pikmin is a true work of art, anyone who has a Nintendo Game Cube should buy it and anyone who hasnt a Game Cube should buy one because it already has two absolute corkers, Rogue Leader and Pikmin.
9.5 out of 10