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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Pikmin 3.

TranscriptEdit

All right, full disclosure, I picked up Pik-pin-- I mean I picked up Mik-pin-- I acquired Pikmin 3 a couple of weeks back but sort of left it on one side for a while because it looked a little bit twee, and a little bit a Wii U game. Nothing personal, it's just whenever the prospect of doing another Wii U comes up, the inevitable hardware issues loom overhead like the legs of the Colossus of Rhodes, its shitty battery life dangling awkwardly in the breeze.

But nothing else is out till Friday so I was stuck with it. "Don't be sad", said Pikmin 3, tweely, "we can have just as much fun with unjustifiable murder as those grown-up games." And you know what? It was right. It's like the fucking trenches at the Somme in there, except the Allied soldiers are physically thrown at the German war machine by their commanders and every German casualty gets dragged into the Allied trenches to have their flesh minced up and converted into rations. That'll teach me to pre-judge, thanks Pikmin 3, you fucking monster! And thank you Wii U-- Oh your battery died.

Pikmin was the last entirely new IP created by Shigeru Miyamoto. What was that? Wii Sports and Wii Fit? Oh sorry, Pikmin was the last entirely new IP created by Shigeru Miyamoto that I give a shit about. As is fairly well known, Miyamoto takes inspiration for his game ideas from aspects of his day-to-day life, and I think Pikmin came from a summer job he once had throwing unwanted family pets into a canal.

Three astronauts land on an unknown planet and a spaceship fault leaves them temporarily unable to return home. See, it's different to the first Pikmin, 'cause there's three of them. Upon landing, they are immediately approached by a race of strange plant-like beings who willingly gather around the alien astronauts, because having never seen them they have no reason to fear them, basically doing what the dodos did when hungry foreign sailors first arrived on their islands, and it basically works out as well now as it did then. The astronauts are unwilling to do their own manual labor, perhaps so as to not ruin their nails for an upcoming photoshoot with "What Genocide?" magazine and must employ the Pikmin as combination pack mules and ballistic missiles, to collect supplies, explore the planet and cannibalize all the less friendly locals.

Despite my fondness for the GameCube, I never played the original Pikmin 'cause it looked a bit "baby's first real-time strategy", and I group real-time strategy with gynecologists and your human love, they're just not part of my little world. I do however have the understanding that they are more of a PC thing because mouse controls are best for accurately selecting and deploying units, and trying to do that with analog stick cursors is like trying to piss around the toilet seat from a hang glider. But that was until the invention of the Wii U touchscreen controller which can also be used for accurate selecting and placement. Can be, but isn't; so get used to that analog stick cursor that keeps selecting the fucking foreground while my Pikmin are getting ground into pie crust.

Some kind of "every Pikmin within a certain distance come snuggle up to my ample space-going buttocks" ability would have been nice, rather than a selector that you wave about like a broken windscreen wiper. And then if most of your Pikmin get killed and taken away to be sprinkled on someone's jacket potato, rebuilding your forces is so bloody time-consuming, I would just restart the day and take a mulligan now that I knew what to do. And I always think it reflects bad design when you turn to save scumming; you can't blame someone for breaking a window if the only door is in the roof.

After the three main characters reunite, the story blows out its cheeks and goes, "Well, I can't think of anywhere to go from here, let's just bring in characters from the first two Pikmin games apropos of nothing". And all of the sudden, pinpointing the previous Pikmin protagonist is your party of pillocks' primary priority, based on some vague notion he's got the key to your spaceship for some reason. Then in the end, you track him down and find him being held prisoner by some hitherto unknown monster and suddenly nothing is more important than rescuing this guy we've never met, from a monster we've never seen.

Actually, I don't even know if it is the last level, I was so bloody uninvested and the levels so bloody annoying I just stopped playing. You see, rescuing the poor bastard isn't so important that if you haven't rescued him by the end of the in-game day, your guys won't go, "Fuck it let's go to bed, he'll be fine," waving happily to the monster as it drags him back to the sex dungeon for the night. Well there's nothing more important than a good night's sleep, is there. Otherwise you might get crabby and start throwing hundreds of innocent creatures to their deaths.

But in the astronauts' defence, the Pikmin are fucking asking for it. At least dodos might have had some vague understanding that they probably shouldn't hang around people who keep trying to shove chesnut stuffing up their arseholes. Pikmin won't defend themselves unless you specifically thrown them at the enemy, so if you thought you could just leave some as a defensive perimeter against a nearby horde of vicious battle-hungry aphids, then think again, Commander Excellent. They're always falling off ledges you're trying to throw them unto, and you can't throw them unto the ledge if you're right up against the ledge, so you back up a bit from the ledge and then they fucking fall off the ledge you're currently on, don't they?

And you can never get them away from the fucking boss monsters in time to avoid the incredibly slow attacks that they couldn't be telegraphing any harder if they have a set of fucking stop lights lodged in their heads. This might actually be pretty ingenious design, because I would have had more qualms about sending hundreds of these things to their deaths if they had shown any propensity for independent survival whatsoever, or if wrangling them had been less annoying than trying to count ping-pong balls in a hot tub full of sunflower oil.

I do have positive points, it looks pretty. Although frankly that's something we as a species badly need to get over before anyone takes any more photographs of Kate Middleton. I like the mechanic wherein you lose some of your hard-earned juice at the end of each day, adding a tangible urgency to the fruit-collecting aspect and gives me a sense of drive. I got a strange sense of tingly satisfaction each time I saw newly collected juice being poured slowly into storage jars, a mixture of erotic sensuality and a sudden urgent need for a wee. Almost makes it worth it, but in the moment to moment gameplay, it seems you're always doing things the least efficient way possible.

And the only thing the revolutionary Wii U controller offers is that much boasted feature wherein you can switch to playing entirely with the controller if someone wants to use the TV, which I still think is a very defeatist attitude, Nintendo. "Hey! Gaming's out there and mainstream and not stigmatized-- what was that? You want to watch German scat porn? Fair enough, I'll just slink off in shame to the darkness where the nerds belong..."

AddendaEdit

More of a pick-n-mix man: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

The last time I threw a load of vegetables around I got fired from my job at the coma ward

So is the flower on the head part of the creature or some controlling parasite

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2

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