I spent the last holiday season as a salesclerk in the electronics department of the toy store I currently work at. Early on, during that time, we received the much-anticipated GameCube demo station, allowing customers to experience some of the games soon to be made available. Even during the worst rushes imaginable, a distinctive tune would always catch my attention, forcing me to look at its point of origin: a television screen displaying a multitude of nervously active and brightly colored beings moving about frantically. Initially, the cheery music and preschool like characters led me to see it as another typical kiddy game cooked up by Nintendo. Not to say that this is a bad thing but in this case first impressions, which are always important, were not favorable to Pikmin. Of course, as the saying goes, never judge a book (Or in this case, a game) by its cover.
As Thom pointed out, "Imagination" is something that Pikmin has in abundance. The characters and concepts dont stick to any kind of general trend. Instead they appear to have come straight out of somebodys dreams. Either that or those responsible for designing the game were helped in their search for inspiration by certain "substances" The quest to strive for the most realistic environments is alive and well in many videogames nowadays and Pikmin is no different. However, instead of promoting its settings as another breakthrough in realism among so many others, I believe praise should be given to this game for its characters and creatures. They represent the exact opposite of their surroundings in terms of details and textures. Olimar, the Pikmin and other creatures, for the most part, are relatively simple yet highly colorful in appearance. This is the kind of change I welcome as opposed to games where characters are detailed to the very fabric of their clothing but move as easily as rusted robots.
When referring to the music, Thom argued that it is largely non-intrusive and relaxing. As I mentioned earlier, Pikmins tunes would always grab my attention while I was working though this was not because I enjoyed them. Quite the contrary as each song served no purposes other than annoy me. Maybe this was due to the fact that I associate Pikmins themes with the memory of having numerous customers calling at me from all sides while the games music was playing in the background (Although I doubt it). Then again, it might simply be because I find the various musical themes to be monotonous to the point of being boring.
As far as gameplay is concerned, "Addictive" is the key word here. Nothing beats growing an army of Pikmin and sending off these little suckers to finish off some big creature that would otherwise give Olimar the beating of his life. The little trumpet sound that arises whenever the main character requires an action from the Pikmin gave me the impression of acting as some sort of army general sending his troops off to battle. Unfortunately, if one wishes to collect all of the space ship parts, messing around is best avoided. Time is of the essence and as Thom pointed out, players will notice that days go by incredibly fast when they are hard at work solving puzzles or growing Pikmin.
Pikmin is a cutesy little game that has bite and ironically enough, given its appearance, will probably appeal more to an older audience than to kids. Anyone who enjoys either strategy or puzzle games will be in for a treat, should they take the time to look beyond the kiddy box art, something which many have a hard time doing with Nintendo products.
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