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Pikmin (GameCube)

Captain Olimar from the planet Hocotate experiences a crash landing on an unknown planet and his life systems will last for only 30 days. Not all of the 30 lost spaceship parts are necessary to return home safely, but time is of the essence regardless. A day in the game lasts about 15 minutes in real time, so the game is going to be over in 8-10 hours whether you succeed in your mission or not. If you do the maths, you may wonder how it can be 10 hours, but that's explained by time spent in menus and on the map screen pausing the game's timer.

Pikmin essentially flips the premise of most video games. Instead of controlling one powerful character or a small group who slaughters hundreds of enemies, the roles get reversed and the player is in charge of an army of dummies against very few enemies. Olimar's exploration starts with the discovery of the red Pikmin who are better fighters than other kinds of Pikmin. In order to grow the manpower, pellets and defeated enemies need to be carried by the Pikmin to their respective basis. If you suffer notable losses in fights, enemies will drop additional pellets to mitigate a grinding process. You don't get as many Pikmin as you lost, but it's enough to prevent tedium.

In addition to the red Pikmin, yellow ones can be thrown higher and can carry bombs while blue ones have no problems to traverse through water. The game is built around environmental puzzles and a light strategy element, meaning that you should think about which color of Pikmin is best suited for any given task.

30 spaceship parts in 30 days works out to one per day, so it's easy to figure out what kind of minimum pace is needed to complete the game. The time limit is generous enough to spend time on building up reserves. While the amount of Pikmin that can be controlled at once is limited to 100, it's possible to store thousands of them. It's really not a stressful game if you know what you are doing.

What's left to do after completing the story isn't much. The challenge mode tasks you to grow as many Pikmin as you can in one day, there are five different levels to choose from. Pikmin is a new concept with good execution, but it undeniably lacks content.

Controls 10 The button configuration is thought through, but getting
Pikmin across narrow paths without rails is tricky.
Gameplay   A mix between real time strategy and puzzle game.
Give orders to a horde of up to 100 Pikmin.
Story   The astronaut Captain Olimar is stranded on an alien planet
and tries to keep himself motivated with short monologues.
Single-player   Each location features different obstacles and bosses.
There's a strong "just one more day" feeling.
Multiplayer   Not
Graphics   Ground textures are blurry at the nearest zoom level,
but it's impractical to play that way anyway. Nice water.
Sound   Mostly relaxing ambient music, plus a couple of frantic boss
themes. The Pikmin make odd likeable sounds.
Value   8-10 hours to complete the campaign.
The challenge mode is disappointing and forgettable.
Replay Value   Since the game is so short and fun, trying to finish it
faster provides an acceptable incentive.
Score 7 Pikmin offers an interesting concept, but is over way too soon.
Still, it's a good appetizer for its sequels.

Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club