Games for Lunch: New Play Control! Pikmin
Release Date: March 9, 2009
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site
0:00 This is kind of a unique situation for Games for Lunch, since I already played (and loved) the original Pikmin on the GameCube for many more than a few hours. Still, Nintendo sent me this new, control-tweaked Wii remake, so I guess it's worth an hour to see how the new play controls work. It'll also be interesting to see if the game still holds up roughly ... seven years later? Man I'm old.
0:01 The preview screen is an endearing loop of three Pikmin getting thrown from off-screen, picking up the game logo, then making surprised noises. I want this to be the new screen saver on my computer.
0:02 Wow, everything looks really grainy. Were these really state-of-the-art graphics back in 2001? Maybe my HDTV just doesn't do standard definition very well...
0:03 Olimar's familiar bottle rocket flies through space, gets hit by an asteroid, and hurtles down to the planet as a fireball, complete with cheesy music and sound effects. "The Impact Site" is just as cute as ever.
0:04 "My name is Captain Olimar. While travelling through space I was struck by a meteor..." Blah blah blah ... I just said all this back at 0:03.
0:06 And just like that I'm in "New Play Control." The analog stick on the Nunchuk walks around and I aim a target on the ground with my Wii Remote's pointer. I quickly trundle over to the "Onion" and pluck my first plantlike Pikmin from the ground with a tap of the A button.
0:07 The game tries to hide the explanation of the controls in the narrative, but it just ends up awkward. "Maybe the Pikmin will respond to 'down' on the control pad," Olimar says to himself. Who talks like that? What does Olimar know of control pads?
0:08 Initial impression: These new controls are a bit more awkward than before. On the GameCube, all I had to do was flick the C stick to arrange the Pikmin following me. Here I have to aim with the Wii Remote AND tap a button -- two actions for what used to be one. Also, re-aiming the Wii Remote as Olimar moves is a tad annoying.
0:11 I quickly amass my first 10 Pikmin and use them to move a large-ish cardboard box. The tiny perspective is still quite endearing, in a "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" sort of way.
0:15 At least the camera controls are still as good as I remember. It's remarkably easy to choose the appropriate zoom level and vertical angle for the camera. A quick tap of Z to center the camera behind Olimar is usually all you need.
0:16 One nice thing about the pointer ... I can point at stuff that's far away. On the GameCube version, you had to get right up close to what you were throwing at. Now he can launch Pikmin half a screen away. So it's a give and take, I guess.
0:17 A nice touch: When rallying my Pikmin to my side, tinny little trumpet music plays through the Wii Remote speakers. CUTE!
0:19 I'd forgotten how slow-paced this game is. I want to yell at my Pikmin to go faster even as they lift the engine back to my broken ship. Am I getting impatient in my old age? Or maybe it's just that fact that I've done this already and I'm tiring of the repetition...
0:20 As darkness comes I gather the Pikmin into their onion home for the night and launch into orbit, as always. Olimar's diary notes the strange fact that the Pikmin follow me. I have to find 29 ship parts in 29 days. Let's do this.
0:25 Still fun after all these years: throwing Pikmin at ladybugs and watching the teeny tiny battles.
0:29 My massive army of 74 red Pikmin takes out a giant ladybug from behind with minimal losses. Using the Wii Remote pointer to aim at the bug and call back the used Pikmin is actually slightly easier than it would have been on the GameCube, I think.
0:34 Maybe it's my faulty memory, but I don't remember the Pikmin being this reluctant to help before. In the GameCube game, I think I just pointed them at an object and they'd immediately help carry it. Here they seem to ignore the objects unless I really force them onto it. It's OK ... if I throw them at the target it works just fine.
0:36 I pick up the "Eternal Fuel Dynamo," which would be a great name for a rock band.
0:38 I find a yellow onion and make my first yellow Pikmin.
0:42 As the day ends, I gather up the Pikmin stragglers I've lost during the day into my group of 93. They trundle into their onions for the night yet again. 28 days for 28 parts now.
0:44 Hey, I just got a crazy idea ... Nope ... my GameCube controller doesn't seem to work. I guess that'd obviate the whole "New Play Control" thing. Still, would have been a nice option for purists.
0:47 Why do I need to use my yellow Pikmin to take the yellow pods to the yellow onion. Why can't the red Pikmin be a little smarter?
0:50 Throwing Pikmin with explosive rocks at a big stone walls is pretty exciting, at least for this game. Is it made any more exciting by the "New Play Control"? No.
0:56 I spend the rest of my third day leisurely picking up more Pikmin and getting my radar. I'm trying to cultivate a balance of yellow and red Pikmin. Now that I've found my patience and I'm getting into the whole Zen of the game, I'm finding it as relaxing as ever. Like gardening, except not nearly as boring.
0:59 I weaponize my explosive-carrying yellow Pikmin in a battle with a giant ladybug. I don't think I ever thought to do this when I played the GameCube version. I guess I'm getting wise in my old age.
Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
More importantly, would I pay $29.99 for this game when I could pick up a used GameCube version for less money? No.
This column is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.