Pikmin, the cute and creative GameCube game by Nintendo breaks away from the tried and true format for RTS games. But at the same time, it might be one of the best ones I’ve ever played. Or at least the happiest.
At first glance, you might not even realize how much of an RTS Pikmin is. All we see is a round protagonist in a soft, gentle world full of nature. But the game has almost all of the staple aspects of the genre.
In Pikmin, the player controls Captain Olimar, a humanoid space captain that crash landed on a mysterious new planet. With his ship in ruins, he has only 30 days of life support before he will be subjected to the planet’s oxygen-based atmosphere, which is deadly to his kind. He needs to recover his lost ship parts and fly home. But he can’t do it alone. Instead, he relies on the help of these small, colorful creatures he names “Pikmin” for help.
Mechanically, Olimar is the player and the Pikmin are your units. The first game had three different colored Pikmin, red, yellow, and blue. Each one has a special ability that gives them an advantage over the other. The blue ones can swim, the red ones are fireproof, etc. Later games expand on the idea, adding Pikmin that can fly, are extra strong, and can sense underground items. The player uses these Pikmin to defeat the local animal creatures, which they can then bring back to base to convert into more Pikmin.
The deeper into the game you get, the more you’re forced to get tactical with things. You have to carefully decide how many units of each Pikmin color to bring to certain situations if you want to defeat the monster, solve the puzzle, and acquire the missing ship parts you need.
It has many of the aspects we love in an RTS, while also introducing an engaging storyline and a creative environment. The gentle music and natural world comfort the player, while the clever writing and interesting premise makes them smile. It’s not too complicated to understand either, making it a great game for kids to play as well as adults. The later games even introduced a co-op mode.
Pikmin (2001) and Pikmin 2 (2004) were made for the Nintendo GameCube and Nintendo Wii. Pikmin 3 was released for the Nintendo Wii U in 2013. There’s also Hey! Pikmin, for the Nintendo 3DS. But that is a side-scrolling platformer, so we don’t talk about it.
Nintendo confirmed in 2017 that a new Pikmin game is currently in development. Our guess is that it will release for the Nintendo Switch.