Pikmin 3 won’t save the Wii U, but it’s fun, beautiful, whimsical, and overwhelmingly pleasant

Pikmin 3 won’t save the Wii U, but it’s fun, beautiful, whimsical, and overwhelmingly pleasant

Pikmin 3

  • Wii U

$59.99 MSRP

Buy Game

The Wii U may not feature the graphical power of the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, but it can still be shocking to see how much better Nintendo franchises look in high definition. You look down at the world of Pikmin 3, and everything looks both tiny and at scale with the other objects in the world. The depth of field effect almost makes it look as if you’re seeing the world through a tilt-shift lens.

While Nintendo helpfully suggested I start with the Wiimote and nunchuk, I much preferred to play with the Wii U’s GamePad. Using the right analog stick to control the view, and the left stick to control the movement of your character as well as the aiming reticle felt natural, and made navigating the miniature world a simple task. This also lets you look down at your map and see the number of your various Pikmin at any time, which is a nice touch.

The game also supports off-TV play, so you can simply use the GamePad as your primary display, and enjoy the game without using a television. This is one of my favorite aspects of the Wii U, especially in a house with many children, where displays are often at a premium, and everyone wants to watch something different. You can also use the Controller Pro if you’d like; the game gives you the option of many control methods, and none of them are bad.


The list of adjectives in the title of this post may be overdoing things a bit, but it's hard to get over how pleasant Pikmin 3 can be. Taking charge of the waddling little creatures is fun, throwing the rock-type Pikmin at targets or glass barriers, and keeping them all safe and sound is so satisfying somehow.

It often feels like a family friendly real-time strategy game, and you definitely feel it when you lose some of your minions to poor planning or an inexact aim. Learning how to use each type of Pikmin, and working through the game's puzzles, isn't really the hardest thing in the world, but you'll feel like you accomplished something when you do well.

This is a very comfortable world to fall into, and the sense of being in charge of the cute little things is strong. There's an odd sense of responsibility and guilt; I'm using these creatures to do my bidding, so I feel like the least I can do is keep them safe.

I haven't begun to explore the multiplayer modes yet, but the single-player story feels comfortable and safe, without pushing the formula into many new directions. That's fine, this is the gaming equivalent of your favorite heavy blanket and a cup of tea.

The game also suffers from that annoying Nintendo tendency to kill the pacing with interruptions and dialog that explains things that are pretty evident, a flaw that I felt also hurt Luigi's Mansion on the 3DS, but whatever. There is a certain pace to this game, and you just have to get ready to go with it.

Again, this is an attractive, pleasant game. If you have a Wii U, and the numbers say that you probably don't, this is worth your time and money, although the competition on the system is just about zero. Even then, I'm looking forward to spending more time with my Pikmin.