In 2001, one of my favorite game consoles of all time released. The Nintendo Gamecube, Nintendo’s entry in the 6th generation of consoles, is a somewhat underappreciated console, with some amazing titles. One of the first games released for it was Pikmin, a strategy game. The Pikmin series has a cult following, but does the original Gamecube classic still hold up today?
Let me start by saying that I played the Gamecube version, and that will be the version discussed here. I understand that the Wii Version has fixed some of the issues, but I’m specifically talking about the 2001 release. The gameplay of Pikmin is quite interesting. The player takes the control of Captain Olimar, a space captain of sorts who has crash landed on a distant planet. Captain Olimar determines that he cannot breathe the air on the planet, and his space suit can only keep him alive for about 30 days. Coincidentally, his ship broke into 30 parts that scattered across the land. The goal of the game is to track these parts down so he can return home. Olimar uses the help of Pikmin, tiny little plant creatures that can be created by putting items into a machine. These pikmin do Olimar’s every command, and can carry the ship parts, defeat enemies, break down walls, and are essentially required to get anywhere in the game. The game is laid out into five different areas, all of which have a certain amount of ship parts. Olimar must trek through these forests, caves, and lakes with his pikmin to reclaim his ship parts. There are three different pikmin colors: Red, Blue, and Yellow. Red Pikmin are strong and can withstand fire. Yellow pikmin are nimble and can carry bombs. Blue pikmin can go through water. It is up to the player to distribute an adequate amount of each pikmin color. They can attack enemies by being thrown onto them or swarming them, and carry your ship parts back to your ship by lifting them like ants. I have a few issues with the gameplay. The game is played in days, where a day lasts a few minutes in real time. This time limit of a few minutes has no leeway, meaning if you run out of time, the day is over. That issue is really no big deal, but some of the other main issues I have are connected to the controls. Where Olimar throws pikmin is shown by a cursor. But controlling this cursor is a bit complicated, since Olimar moves with it. There are times where Olimar has gotten into trouble since I was trying to move the cursor and not him. The C Stick would be ideal for controlling the cursor, but instead it’s used to swarm things with pikmin. Another issue is the AI of the Pikmin. When you have pikmin in tow, they will blindly follow you in a crowd of how many pikmin you called. These pikmin don’t change their formation at all when following, and this means you can’t take a large number of them across narrow pathways, since they’ll fall. It gets very frustrating when I have a myriad of pikmin colors following me, and the reds fall into water. Red Pikmin die in water, but they don’t do anything to keep themselves from going into it. It’s very frustrating, and this issue isn’t changed in later games in the series. Olimar also controls kind of loosely. This was a very early Gamecube game, so I can understand how it was probably difficult to design a game around a new controller, but honestly, I find the controls very slippery and uncomfortable. Overall, the gameplay and controls really don’t hold up today.
The music and graphics are easily my favorite part of this game. While the graphics aren’t great, for the time, they looked amazing. The environments of the Forest Of Hope, the Forest Navel, and the aquatic Distant Spring have amazing aesthetics, but don’t look great by today’s standards. Don’t get me wrong, for the time, these graphics were cutting edge, but today, they’re just run of the mill. Nothing about the graphics stand out too much. The music, however, is beautiful. The musical pieces are a joy to listen to. The music fits each environment very well, and I can say that the Pikmin soundtrack is one of my all time favorites. The music has aged very well, while the graphics are alright.
Overall, while Pikmin was a solid launch game for the Gamecube, I can’t say that I really enjoy the game in 2017. While the game sounds nice and looks okay, the gameplay just isn’t that good anymore. Pikmin has not aged well.