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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Carrots. Or, let's talk about Pikmin...

It looks like Pokemon, but with 'i's. No? Is it just me?

For some reason, Nintendo made these two short games for the GameCube- I'm not exactly sure why, but they did- and they were both fantastic. Luigi's Mansion and Pikmin were just lovely concepts that allowed the GameCube to flex its muscles and be the best it could be from a fresh, new perspective. But in terms of being something completely new, Pikmin bests Luigi's Mansion.

Pikmin [was] the newest Nintendo IP, and it's completely different from their other offerings in every way. You take command of Captain Olimar, a space-faring fellow who crash-lands on a distant planet. In order to return his ship to its original state, Olimar enlists the help of the planet's smallest, most docile-looking creatures- the Pikmin, named after Olimar's favorite brand of Pik Pik carrot. Alone, Olimar can punch things, but his suit is flimsy and limits the hero significantly. But with a couple of Pikmin, Olimar can tackle greater foes. With about 50, you start to realize that anything is possible. But that's where the game design comes into play.

Pikmin can do great things in large numbers, but they are sometimes limited. Fire will burn up some of them- water will drown others. Massive stone walls stand in the way, and greater enemies with specific weaknesses will threaten Olimar and his relatively paper-thin Pikmin in ways you can't even begin to imagine. To top it all off... every challenge must be completed in 20 minutes.

You only have 30 in-game days to repair your ship completely. There are 30 ship parts. That means that a skilled player has to try to get two parts in many days- but sometimes, it's just not possible. The fun thing is that you don't have to spend every day stressing over getting a part, but you do need to plan accordingly. Parts are scattered all over the world, but some are grouped close together, and multitasking is an important factor. You have to make sure you're managing your Pikmin, counting your losses, while also taking out enemies and obstacles both on the way to your goal and on the way back. It's a tough game, especially on a time limit. The best, and also the worst thing about the game is that it doesn't throw you any tips- the boss enemies are unique and have tough little portions to them. You won't get hints. You just have to figure things out.

People complain that Pikmin is too short. Well. It is. Pikmin 2 is longer and "more fun," but your mileage may vary. To me, the pressure of having to obtain those 30 parts in a few days is much more challenging and fun. To some, Pikmin seemed to be the tutorial to Pikmin 2- an introduction to the much more open, more complex, longer experience. To them, I say...

Just wait for Pikmin 3.

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