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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Pikmin 3 is a cartoonish strategy game starring a trio of astronauts. They encounter colorful, intelligent plant life (Pikmin) on a strange planet and subsequently command them to perform various tasks or fight wild life. The game's primary focus is on exploration, discovery, and puzzle solving. Its astronaut heroes are clearly good people trying to help keep their home planet fed. That said, hundreds of Pikmin will die through the course of the game. Their bodies turn into ghosts that float into the sky. There is no blood or gore, but the crew's willingness to allow Pikmin to die in service to them is slightly disturbing. Thankfully, the game's bright and cartoonish nature -- plus the cute Pikmin's propensity to quickly repopulate -- keeps the action from becoming dark. This game has an unusual timer, where the campaign mode can only be played a limited amount each day and must be completed within 100 days.
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What's it about?
Three tiny astronauts crash land on a strange planet in PIKMIN 3. The trio quickly discover a species of intelligent plant life called Pikmin -- colorful sprouts with arms and legs that obediently follow their every command. They use these creatures to help them tear down walls, construct bridges, harvest the fruit they need to survive, and even battle the local aggressive bugs, small animals, and fish that occasionally attack. They find new breeds of Pikmin as the game progresses, including those that can fly and swim, which allow them to access new areas and discover more kinds of fruit. Eventually they learn that there is another alien on the planet -- Captain Olimar from the first two Pikmin games -- and realize that he may hold the key to their escape from this alien world.
Outside of the campaign, players can engage in competitive and cooperative one-off missions to collect items and battle monsters. Another bonus mode sees players using Pikmin to collect fruit matching the lines of a Bingo card. All multiplayer is local and for a maximum of two players.
Is it any good?
It's been nearly a decade since the last time we saw a new Pikmin game, but it's been worth the wait. Nintendo's overlooked series returns in beautiful high-definition, and its strange but intuitive strategic play remains as engaging as ever. Players still control Pikmin by whistling to grab their attention and then tossing them onto objects or enemies of interest. But the introduction of new types of Pikmin -- such as the black rock Pikmin, which are great at smashing crystals, and pink flying Pikmin, which can carry objects over water -- help create plenty of new play scenarios. Plus, players can now switch between three astronauts each with their own Pikmin squads, using the Gamepad map as a means to keep track of all their multitasking efforts.
The game has a few minor niggles. It can be hard to move and properly target your Pikmin for landing using a control stick, and the timer (each day of exploration only lasts about 15 minutes) means you'll often need to leave tasks unfinished from one day to the next. But on the whole, Pikmin 3 is one of the most original, unusual, and just plain fun games available for Wii U.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about puzzle solving. Do you enjoy word puzzles and riddles, or do you prefer more contextual puzzles in which you must analyze your environment and figure out objectives, obstacles, and how to overcome them?
Families can also discuss how people use animals. What sorts of jobs are appropriate for the animals in our lives? How do you know if a job goes beyond a harmless task and becomes cruel? Is it ever okay for animals to die in our service?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
- Subjects: Science: animals, life cycle, plants
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, applying information, solving puzzles, strategy
Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: August 4, 2013
- Genre: Strategy
- Topics: Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Mild Cartoon Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.