About 12 years ago, the first Pikmin game released for Nintendo's GameCube to critical acclaim and fan admiration.  The game contained gorgeous environments for the time, inventive gameplay never before seen in Nintendo's library, and a whole new set of characters to add to Nintendo's character lineup.  Three years later, Pikmin 2 released to even bigger acclaim than its predecessor, which left many wondering how Nintendo would ever top it.

Pikmin 3 marks the first new entry in nine years, the first high-definition Pikmin game, and probably the first time I've had this much fun playing anything on my Wii U console.  Pikmin 3 brings back some of the challenge of the first Pikmin game, while bringing back the nearly-limitless freedom of Pikmin 2.  Like the first entry, Pikmin 3 feels like a whole new experience and even introduces some new characters; like the second entry, there's no day-limit for the main story mode and a fun competitive multiplayer mode.

The game begins with a little dialogue explaining the mysterious planet PNF-404, where a group of explorers from the planet Koppai are planning on checking out for their food supply.  The three explorers crash-land and find themselves lost and separated.  The three--Alph and his captain Charlie, and a botanist named Brittany--all stumble across various Pikmin and use them to help them find fruit to convert into very nutritious juice.

Gameplay is varied and smooth.  The GamePad's implementation is just perfect; you can use it to set up waypoints on your map and see where fruits, lost Pikmin and signals are without it ever becoming too intrusive.  The GamePad by itself can be used--even Off-TV--the Pro Controller can be used, or those looking for more precision can use the Wii remote and Nunchuck.  The Wii remote and Nunchuck is my personal favorite to use, but the GamePad by itself is very convenient for on-the-fly waypoints and viewing of the map.

Like I said earlier, this game reminds me a lot of its predecessor due to its freedom.  I spent a good 14 hours or so playing through the game, and even though I could've had it completed sooner I spent 36 in-game days beating every mission and boss.  I loved being able to roam around with Pikmin solving mini-puzzles and finding different resources and fruits.

Speaking of Pikmin, I mentioned the two new Pikmin types.  One is a bulking, slow but powerful Rock-type Pikmin.  These types are useful in combat and became my go-to choice for boss battles after a while.  Then there are cutesy, elegant and small-looking Winged Pikmin, which introduces flying abilities to the series.  These types were handy for those hard-to-reach items, and were convenient because they were the only Pikmin that could cross over water until I found my Blue Pikmin.

Aside from its regular Story mode, Pikmin 3 offers a Mission mode, which sort of serves as a challenge mode for experienced players.  I suggest making sure you've beat Pikmin 3's story at least once before trying it out, or unless you're absolutely awesome at Pikmin 1 and 2.  For multiplayer sessions, Bingo Battle is a lot of fun.  That mode is exactly what it sounds like; the two players are given a 4-by-4 grid of things to collect, with each one being tasked to collecting said items to complete a row before the other player.  It's very, very fun if you've got two Pikmin players up for challenging each other.  I could complain about its lack of online multiplayer, but I feel like Bingo Battle is made for same-room split-screen.

Even though it's a terrific game all-around, it's not without its misgivings.  While the Wii remote and nunchuck offered terrific precision, I couldn't always say the same about the GamePad or Pro Controller.  Often times the camera angles would ruin me during boss battles to the point where I would easily lose Pikmin because of the right-stick's downright unreliability at times.  This wasn't a problem after taking some time to get used to it, but unless you're extremely hostile and impatient towards the control scheme, the Wii remote and nunchuck might save you some time during the game.

What matters by the end of your Pikmin 3 experience is that you have a great time, and Pikmin 3 certainly does deliver on that through and through.  It might not be the Wii U game that sells millions of units, but I feel like it's a mandatory purchase for current Wii U owners, definitely.  Even if you've never played Pikmin before, I couldn't recommend a fuller experience on the Wii U right now.