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SummaryColorful Puzzle/strategy Hybrid that Must be Played!
The GoodThe gameplay is, for the most part, very fun and always rewarding. You have the daylight hours to help Olimar lead his Pikmin to ship parts waiting to be reclaimed, and in some maps you can get several parts in a single day. At the end of the day, you fly up into the sky with your Pikmin to avoid the dangerous creatures who like to eat you. A couple of the maps even give you a chance to retrieve several ship parts in a single day, which makes the part-per-day schedule more manageable. The Pikmin are very responsive to your controls and will follow your every command. Sometimes they'll get distracted by something and start to do things on their own, but this normally doesn't occur in dangerous situations and helps make the Pikmin seem alive.
The sound for the game is a perfect fit. The Pikmin make high pitched little noises of joy then you pluck them out of the ground, or little "hut hut hut hut" noises as they lug a ship part back to your ship. The music changes based on the presence of enemies, as well, so you've got audio queues to tell if you're about to be pounced on by a flying beetle or a boss creature of some kind.
The frustration you'll feel from ruining your progress in a day (and early on, you'll be able to manage to ruin a whole day's work very easily) is outweighed by the attachment you can begin to form with Olimar. Olimar is given a distinct personality, and you will frequently see him musing about his pending doom or longing to see the faces of his kids again. These extra little details make the world real enough that you can't walk away from the game until you've make sure Captain Olimar is safe, and if you get behind schedule you actually become concerned for the tiny alien.
The BadFrustration can set in when you need to manipulate the simple control scheme to do complex things. Some types of Pikmin are suited to specific tasks, and trying to pick specific types can be difficult when you have an army of 100 running around. This can mean you end up killing all of them off, and if you mess up that bad towards the end of a day you have no choice but to restart and try again. The maps beg to be explored, as well, but the time limit doesn't allow the option. If you spend too much time wandering around and having fun with your Pikmin, you can get too far behind schedule to win.
Anyone who has played a Lemmings game will also be familiar with a Pikmin's complete lack of self preservation. It's important for a player to get used to keeping his mass of Pikmin where they want them, because these little creatures won't hesitate to destroy themselves in all kinds of ways.
The Bottom LineIt's easy to initially assume on at first glance that Pikmin is a simple game aimed at children. On a closer look, like many other Nintendo titles, that first impression is wrong. Hidden beneath the colorful and simple looks is a game that can be as challenging and frustrating as any puzzle or strategy game, and Pikmin is a hybrid of both. The mix means a lot of fun along the way, though!
This game should be recommended to anyone who owns a GameCube. Anyone who is even remotely a fan of Nintendo has to play through this instant classic at least once, although beating it would be very challenging for the youngest players. Heck, if you collect games at all, this belongs in your collection.