The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
At the start of Pikmin, you see a ship flying through space. In a few seconds it collides with a meteor, and is sent crashing into a planet that looks strangely like earth. After he get's out, the game starts and you'll notice something; everything is giant. In reality, Olimar - the main character - is about an inch tall. After looking around the area, you'll quickly find a strange object which Olimar names an Onion. It releases a small alien creature, even smaller than Olimar, that he names a Pikmin, after the PikPik carrots from his home planet he lives on. After finding out that the planet's atmosphere contains high amounts of "poisonous oxygen", he finds out that the Pikmin will do whatever he tells them too. So then he sets out to find the thirty missing parts to his ship, with thirty days until his life support system runs out.
Pikmin is very much an RTS game, but as far from the traditional sense as possible. It's about micromanagement more than anything; using every second as efficiently as possible. While leading 20 Pikmin to get animals to make more Pikmin, you could have a dozen somewhere building a bridge, twenty breaking down a wall, another 30 carrying a ship part back to the base, and 8 doing something else, as you are limited to 100 Pikmin on the field at a time, the rest stay in their onions.
To increase the size of your vegetable army, after killing an animal you can order your Pikmin to carry it back to their onion, which will turn it into seeds it then shoots out into the nearby ground. You then pluck them from the ground, and you're done. It's good to have 100 Pikmin on the field at a given time, as then they are stored in the Onions and you can save time, not having to pluck them from the ground.Before long, you'll have three Onions, one for each of your three kinds of Pikmin. Red Pikmin, which you find first, are immune to fire and deal more damage with their attacks than the others. Yellow Pikmin are light which allows them to be thrown to higher places and are capable of carrying bomb rocks, which are the only way to break down rock walls. They can also be used against wooden walls (which can be destroyed by regular Pikmin over time) and enemies, and are used in fighting a few bosses. Last but not least are your Blue Pikmin, which can go in water without drowning.
There are 5 different areas in Pikmin, the Impact Crater, where you first go for the tutorial. After you get Yellow Pikmin and Blue Pikmin, you'll eventually need to return to get a ship part. Then there's the Forest Of Hope, where you find Yellow Pikmin. It's primarily land, but there are a few puddles that are supposed to keep you from getting all the parts until you return with blue Pikmin. I say supposed because a clever speed runner found a way around it when he beat the game in 6 days, before he did that it was believed that the fastest possible speed run was 9 days. After that is the Forest Navel, named so because it's a dark pit that looks like a belly button from the sky, according to Olimar. It's got a few new enemies and is unique in that you can't see very far because of the darkness, and you find Blue Pikmin here. After that is the Distant Springs, a waterlogged area where you'll need quite a few Blue Pikmin. The last area is The Final Trial, where you fight the final boss, Emperor Bulblax. You gain access to new areas by attaining a certain number of ship parts.Each day lasts about 15 minutes and you have a limit of 30 days to collect the necessary ship parts (but this makes the game pretty short, the longest amount of time it can last is 7 and a half hours). Really, it's not that restrictive as you just need to manage a one part to one day ratio, and it makes sense as what causes you to lose. After all, this is a game about using your time efficiently. They also make it so that you don't even need all 30 parts, there are 5 specific parts you don't need, one of which is protected by the final boss. I only won on my first play through because of this, I reached The Final Trial after 27 days and my Pikmin army was repeatedly massacred every time I tried to beat it. There are three endings, the good ending for getting all 30 parts, the ok ending for missing any of the unnecessary parts, and the bad ending for failing.
The final boss is in no way the only enemy capable of killing your Pikmin by the dozens if you aren't careful. There are around 25-30 types of enemies, and 8 of them are bosses. They only repeat a boss once, the Armored Cannon Beetle being the boss they repeat. There's also an optional boss, the Smoky Progg, that I still haven't beaten. You can fight it by reaching the Distant Springs by day 15. The day that you return the Impact Crater also decides what boss is there, with it usually being something called a Mamuta, but on odd days after day 9 is a water based boss called Goolix. Most of the bosses can kill dozens of your Pikmin in a few seconds if you aren't careful or don't use a good strategy, as well as a few normal enemies, like the always annoying Wollywogs.
The controls are good, L, R and Z control the distance and position of the camera. A is used to throw Pikmin, the left analog stick is used for moving your cursor and Olimar, the right analog stick is used for swarming (moving all your Pikmin in a certain direction, much faster than throwing although you have less control over how many attack/pick up something), pressing X separates them by color, Y causes you to view the map, and B makes Pikmin follow you. It can be a little difficult to pick out the right type of Pikmin among a mass of them, but the New Play Control version fixes it by letting you switch what Pikmin you're holding by pressing B.
It also gives you a further throwing range and let's you aim and move independent of the other. The GC controls have a small advantage in that you can throw Pikmin and swarm in two directions, but over all I'd recommend the New Play Control version, so long as you don't have some sort of fanatical hate for motion controls (well, or don't have a Wii. The GC controls work fine if you don't). It also adds a new feature that lets you go back to a given day, which makes the time limit even less punishing.
Now I just need to write a review of the second game before the third comes out. First I have a few other reviews I need to write, like that review of Metroid Other M.