Pikmin 3 adds many other subtle tweaks that improve the overall experience: from the ability to auto-direct friendly characters using the map screen on the GamePad, to the app that keeps track of stray Pikmin so they don't get eaten at the end of the day. The interface is thoughtful and intelligently designed, and it really eases the burden of directing a million Pikmin at once. Perhaps the most annoying thing about playing Pikmin on Wii U was having to balance the GamePad on my lap while playing the game with the Nunchuk and Wii Remote. While one could just play with the GamePad alone, I would much rather have the control afforded by the Wii's motion controls. It's simply more cumbersome to use the analog sticks than to "point and click." Pikmin was practically made for the Wii Remote. By far the biggest addition to Pikmin 3 is the fact that there are three characters now, rather than just one. Captain Olimar makes his presence known with research notes scattered around the planet. But this is Alph, Charlie, and Brittany's show, and each of them have a valuable part to play. For example, after rescuing Brittany and uncovering the Rock Pikmin, I had to build a bridge. The materials I needed were across a river. So using Alph, I picked up Brittany and tossed her to the other side, then tossed over a few Pikmin to help. Moments later, I had a bridge, and I was able to continue my quest. Obviously, the addition of multiple characters has huge ramifications for Pikmin's design. With three characters at your disposal, it's possible to get all kinds of things finished over the course of a day, especially if you're efficient. It also obviously affects the puzzle design, as was demonstrated with the bridge challenge. Again, it's a great idea that feels like a natural progression from Pikmin 1 and 2.
But as much as I like all these clever new ideas, all of which represent Nintendo at its creative best, it's still the setting that grabs me most. It's just so fun and different from everything else on the market right now that it can't help but capture my attention. The humorous and yet surprisingly dark setting is just the tip of the iceberg. It extends to the creatures, the design, the world... everything. And for the first time in the franchise, it's all rendered in HD. Whereas other key franchises in Nintendo's slate have begun to feel just the slightest bit stale, Pikmin still feels fresh and vibrant. Not only that, but in a landscape dominated by drab shooters and zombies, Pikmin's bright palette and quirky characters can't help but stand out. It's such a weird, fun, and creative game that fully realizes Miyamoto's vision from 2001. We need more games like that, not just from Nintendo, but everyone.
Pikmin 3 plays better when using the Wii Remote