So of course I picked up Pikmin last Friday. You can see a video of it here if you haven't seen the game. Like I mentioned before they are advertizing the crap out of it with very cute commericals.

If you want to see one of the commericals you can download it by clicking on the Pikman2.zip link on this page. The words are something like this

We are Pikmin, we'll tell you about us. Carrying, attacking, increasing in numbers and getting eaten We are living in many different ways on this planet Carrying, attacking, increasing in numbers and getting eaten.

Nintendo Gamecube. Pikmin

There's another on this page. Personally I think those particular commericals are trying to bring in a female audience by making the game appear to be very cute.

It's hard to say if it's *good* or not. I've never been one to get into strategy games. I had many friends get addicted to Sim City on Super Nintendo or PC. I tried playing once but I didn't see the point. Similarly I never got into Diablo, Warcraft, or any of those kinds of games. I tried playing C&C a little and though I had some fun playing networked I never really got good at it and single player just bored me. Then there's Populous, The Sims, Black & White.

So, aruably Pikmin would fit in a similar category as you control and direct lots of little Pikmin. I am finding it fun but because I'm playing the Japanese version, everytime an explaintion comes up I have to pause for 5 to 10 minutes while I try to figure out what it says and I'm not always successful since the kanji fonts are too small for somebody that doesn't already know kanji. You do have the option of making the messages for kids in which case there would probably be no kanji and less adult vocabulary but it seems like that might be less useful so I chose adult messages.

There are several things that stick out to me. One, the game is clearly designed NOT to be played with a mouse which is probably a first for these types of games since most of them started on PC or Macs.

The story is you are flying through space and you bump into a meteor and then crash land on some planet. As you are falling from the sky, parts of your ship get scattered all over (sounds familiar 😉) and so you need to go find all 30 pieces within 30 days. I wasn't quite sure what the story's explaintion for the 30 day time limit is.

Anyway, you find out there are these little creatures on the planet that look like onions and you decide to call them Pikmin and that for some reason they obey you. There are 3 different types. Red, Yellow and Blue. I haven't gotten the blue ones yet but each type has it's specialties. The Yellow ones can carry little exploding rocks they find and they can be thrown twice as high as the other kinds. The blue ones can swim where as the other two kinds drown if they fall in the water.

Separate from that, each Pikman goes through 3 stages of growth. Leaf head, Bud head and Flower head. Those basically correspond to strength and speed. Pikmin are created / birthed when your Pikmin carry either a pellet or the body of a killed animal back to their ship. They pop out the top and plant themselves in the ground. If you leave them planted all day they might grow into the flower kind. If you pull them out early then you have to get them to eat this yellow goo if you want them to grow up which you can find from various sources.

So, you lead them around getting them to attack animals, pick up pellets, knock down or blow up walls, build bridges etc. You can lead upto 100 at a time around the level. You only have from morning until dusk to work because at night the big monsters wake up and will eat all Pikmin so before the sunsets you need to get them all back in their ships and take off.

The graphics are pretty cool. Pikmin are supposed to be like 1cm tall and the main character is like 2cm tall so it all takes place in grass and bushes with puddles and stuff. Even with 100 Pikmin on the screen and 20 or so monsters I've never seen it slow down. The water is probably the best real looking water I've seen so far though they are similating a puddle and not a lake or the ocean. The textures are great, detailed and multi−layered so for example the canopy of leaves above the level is casting swaying shadows on the ground.

A couple of things that I'm less than thrilled about. Playing the 30 days in game time would probaby be 5 hours, maybe 8. So, if the 30 days end before I can find all 30 pieces will I want to start over from the beginning? You can save your game and you can copy your save but then the question is how far back should I start over from. From day 20? From Day 10 etc. Maybe from day 20 I just don't have enough time so I try again and fail again. It's probably one of those things that only would get to me more than most people.

But anyway, for me, the most inspiring thing is that I can see a game I want to make here. Since before I went to Crystal in 93 I wanted to make a game about a little space character on a zelda like action adventure. Of course back then I was thinking of a 2D game. PS1 game out and I think I was still thinking 2D although maybe 2D like Diablo. But now, seeing a 3D world this detailed with 100 pikmin running around and a main character and several cool looking well animated monsters I can now see the presentation that I would like my game to be. The only bad part is that the main character in Pikmin, "Orima", is a little space character so if I made my game with a little space character people would probably think it was a rip−off even though my game would play nothing like Pikmin.

Max Payne
Playing Rez