New Play Control! Pikmin Hands-On Impressions

As the Wii continues to fly off of store shelves at a rate that's already put the GameCube to shame, the clever folks at Nintendo have come to realize that they've got an entire back catalogue of great last-generation games that a lot of their new market probably hasn't played. Think of your Aunt...

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As the Wii continues to fly off of store shelves at a rate that's already put the GameCube to shame, the clever folks at Nintendo have come to realize that they've got an entire back catalogue of great last-generation games that a lot of their new market probably hasn't played. Think of your Aunt Barb who just got a Wii for Christmas--what are the chances that she played a game like Metroid Prime 2? Slim, we're guessing. And so we have Nintendo's All Play initiative: rereleases of some of the GameCube's finest games with only modest changes here and there, mainly in the form of added motion control. The first on the agenda for Nintendo is Pikmin. We recently spent some time with a preview build of New Play Control Pikmin to see what's new and how well those changes work. To give a well-rounded view, we've got impressions from both Shaun McInnis and Sophia Tong. Shaun played Pikmin extensively when it was first released, and Sophia--much like your Aunt Barb--is brand-new to the world of Captain Olimar.

Shaun McInnis

Let's get this out of the way: Pikmin is a great game, no matter which system you're playing it on. To me, it's the ideal format for a console real-time strategy game. The controls are simple and elegant, and there's not a ton of micromanaging to be done. So we're certainly starting with a great game as a foundation here. And to tell you the truth, the foundation hasn't changed much. There are really only two big alterations. The first is your onscreen cursor, which has been mapped to the Wii Remote and lets you move around by pointing at the screen instead of twisting the C-stick on the GameCube controller. This is a huge part of the game, given that you'll spend a ton of time highlighting groups of Pikmin to recruit into your party and carefully deselecting the ones that you can't afford to lose in battle. It feels precise, but the C-stick worked pretty well on its own, too. So it's a minor change, but a positive one.

The other alteration is to the game's overall timer. As Captain Olimar, you've got 30 days to rescue 30 parts for your ship. There's no rule that says you need to collect one part per day, so it's up to you to stay on a solid pace for completion. You might collect two parts in a single day and then go five days without nabbing a single one. In the original, time was set in stone; if a day passed and you saved your game, that day was done forever. But in the new version of the game, you can return to any previous day and restart from there. So if you were doing great in the first week but totally fell off track during the second week, you can go to the calendar and jump back to Day 7 when you were still on pace. This feels like a much more substantial change than the control alterations, and should make the game a bit more palatable to the Wii's slightly more "casual" audience.


Sophia Tong
I've never played Pikmin on the GameCube before, so it's cool that Nintendo is giving people like me another chance to play this whimsical little game with walking sprouts. Seeing as how I don't have anything to compare to, I liked using the Wii Remote to point and click, but I can't imagine that using the analog stick on the GC was that difficult to begin with. I'm not too crazy about the camera controls, but that's only a minor complaint given that the gameplay still holds up very well. It was fun to watch my Pikmin collection flourish, but that quickly faded when I realized I left a few stragglers at the end of the day--oops! The game requires some strategy, but even if you don't like thinking, Olimar and his marching band of onionheads should keep you amused with their cutesy personalities. There's nothing like sending an army of walking vegetables to do your busywork. I'd encourage those who haven't played the original Pikmin to check it out. However, pros who played this in the past aren't missing much except the new Wii control scheme.

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