a portfolio of videogame writings
Remarkably for a twelve year old franchise, Pikmin still feels like a fresh take on the strategy genre. Perhaps that’s because Nintendo’s frugal management of the series has sheltered it from the erosion of repetition – this latest instalment is the third in over a decade and the first in nine years, a rare thing for an industry obsessed with relentlessly churning out sequels. Or maybe it has more to do with the lack of imitators – Little King’s Story, Overlord and The Wonderful 101 pilfered the idea of commanding large groups of minions from a third-person perspective, but there’s been little else. Most likely it’s a combination of both these points and the fact that Pikmin’s original template was just so unique to begin with.
Most modern real-time strategy titles are complex simulations of warfare, overseen from the general’s armchair with an overwhelming number of tactics and interactions to master. In Pikmin 3 you fight on battlefields of colourful, Honey I Shrunk the Kids-style oversized flora and fauna, directing your troops from the frontline as a squat, space-suited explorer. Your war is one with survival, your only goals to collect the scattered parts of your crash-landed spaceship and to retrieve enough types of fruit to save your starving home world. And the only way to do that is by cultivating a symbiotic relationship with a workforce of adorable, diminutive (Pik)minions.
This indigenous population of saccharine sweet critters can be found hiding in clay plant pots, plucked from beneath the alien planet PNF-404’s topsoil, or created from the remains of defeated creatures, and they follow you like lost children, attacking or collecting anything you throw them at. They are your adopted army and you their marshal, and taking care of them in return for their aid is essential to surviving each day.