Nintendo's decision to re-tool some of its classic GameCube games for the Wii can be viewed in a number of ways. The cynics would argue that the only reason it's done this is because its current line-up of Wii exclusives is geared almost entirely towards a new 'casual' demographic, so it needs to call on its games from the last generation to appease traditional hardcore Nintendo fans. On the other hand, lots of GameCube games were great and reworking the controls for the Wii means an entirely new group of gamers will get to experience them. In truth we agree with both points of view to a certain degree, but all that really matters is that New Play Control! Pikmin is the best version yet.
What is most startling about Pikmin on Wii is how, despite being over seven years old, it looks better than a good deal of new Wii releases. While this shows just how ahead of the pack Nintendo has always been when developing for its own hardware, it also highlights just how sloppy a lot of Wii development has been. Aside from some low-poly objects here and there and textures that look ugly up close, Pikmin is still an attractive game. By modern standards the menus look dated, but that's really a criticism that has little to no bearing on the overall quality of the game.
So, it looks easily good enough to be a Wii game, but how does it play? The short answer is very well indeed. Pikmin is essentially a real-time strategy game in which you command an army of cute soldiers who have been plucked from the ground by crashed spaceman Olimar - a tiny humanoid character who knows just as much about the Pikmin as you do, and learns their secrets as the game progresses. On the GameCube you had to handle Olimar's movement, who the Pikmin follow, and the movement of the Pikmin on the analogue sticks. With the Wii Remote now handling all Pikmin movement and actions (bar the dismiss command which is mapped to C on the Nunchuck) the game is simply a lot easier to play.
Aside from the control changes the game is more or less as it was. You still have 30 in-game days to find 25 missing spaceship parts. You must round-up all your Pikmin at the end of each day or lose them to the land's savage beasts at night. There are three types of Pikmin (standard red, bombing yellow and swimming blue), the combat is essentially you bombarding the enemies with Pikmin and you grow new Pikmin by returning strange coloured discs to your onion shaped Pikmin pods.
One major change is that now you can choose to return to one of the days you've completed (selectable on the load game screen with the + and - buttons), meaning you no longer need to play through to the end of your 30 days only to find you've run out of time. Being able to go back if you didn't quite do what you wanted during a day does mean that finishing the game is a lot easier than in the original, and as such it's likely you'll get less play-time out of it, but for some gamers it'll result in less frustration and allow you to experiment a bit more when learning the ins and outs of the controls and Pikmin abilities.
A day in Pikmin's world will usually see you looking around the map for new areas to explore, using the strengths of your Pikmin to access new areas (bombing barriers that can't be beaten down, for example), finding spaceship pieces, fighting seemingly giant bugs and growing new Pikmin - as long as they're not plucked they're safe to stay on the planet at night so there's no real need to pluck them all if you've already got more than 100 in your locker. 100 is the maximum you can take out into the field, and there are always plants ready to be turned into new soldiers.
The fact that the game remains as it was isn't a bad thing - the original is considered great for a reason - but with the GameCube sequel also due for release under the New Play Control! label there is a question mark over how much this game was needed. The forthcoming sequel does away with the time limit gameplay mechanic completely, places more emphasis on combat, adds new Pikmin types, introduces multiplayer (versus and co-op) and looks a bit nicer too.
With a retail price of £29.99 and price cuts already taking place, New Play Control! Pikmin is certainly good value for money. The Wii Remote control scheme suits the game well and newcomers aren't likely to think they're playing a game originally released in 2001, but at the same time the sequel is the better game. If you've already experienced the charm of Pikmin you're better off waiting for the tweaked second game, but if you missed out on the GameCube and fancy some easy to play real-time strategy there's no reason not to pick this up in preparation for the sequel.
VideoGamer.com Score7 Score out of 10
- Looks great for its age
- Plays better than the original
- No multiplayer
- The upcoming sequel is better