What is Pikmin?
Pikmin is a franchise made by Nintendo in 2001. Most games are a mix of the adventure, action, and real-time strategy generas. It currently has three mainline games, an upcoming fourth installment, two spin-off titles (one being a 2D puzzle platformer, the other being a super fancy pedometer), and three short animations. And also three songs that never left Japan, except one got an official French cover.
In these games, you're responsible for the leadership and care of the titular pikmin. Do everything that you can for them, for they would do anything for you - even risk their own lives. In the main line gams, you're only given so much time within an in-game day to accomplish everything you want so make sure you plan well and make the most of your time! This is a huge reason why I adore the games, I find this gameplay loop to be so much fun. Plus it makes the games replayable as you try to get faster and faster with each run of the game.
Okay, But What is a Pikmin?
Pikmin are feral carrot toddlers with a taste for blood. I'm only partly joking when I say that. Pikmin are plant-animal hybrids smaller than a coin. They have humanoid bodies, smooth skin, and a long stem at the top of their head which ends in either a leaf, bud, or flower. They come in a variety of types, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. They may be fairly weak when they act as individuals, but as a group they're able to do so much! That is, if you can keep tabs on their child-like curiosity and tendency to be distracted.
They live in a mothership called an Onion, which can fly for some reason despite its size and shape (the Onion, of course, flies anyways, because Onions doesn't care what humans think is impossible) to carry pikmin away from nocturnal predators. Also, pikmin are able to drag the corpses of their own prey to the onion so that it may grind the prey up, aborb the nutrients, and create Pikmin seeds from it. Thus, the circle of life continues. Isn't nature just beautiful? Huh? What do Pikmin eat? Uh, sunlight, probably. They are plants. Also nectar!
They're also incredibly cute and loyal, which makes it all the sadder when they get hurt just trying to help you.Back to Top
How Did You Get Into Pikmin?
Pikmin as a franchise is slightly older than I am and my dad also likes to play video games. As a result, I was too young (or potentially not even born yet!) to remember getting the first game or playing it for the first time. Similar applies to the second game, though I was certainly born by the time my dad bought it. I have vague early memories of being scared of the Forest Navel area in the first game, as it was dark and infested with fire breathing "dragons" (the irony of this is not lost on me). I was never able to beat the game at this time, and I remember getting mad at my older brother for finding the game's bad ending to be funny (which, if you don't know, entails a man dying and having his corpse carried by the pikmin to their Onion so they can pull a necromancy and revive him as half-pikmin hybrid. No, I am not joking.) I also remembering struggling with Pikmin 2, as I didn't understand how the candypop bud mechanic worked on account of not yet learning how to read. I was very much baby when I first played these games.
As you can imagine, I didn't really get into or even understand the games until I was older. How I came to understand them, though, is quite the story fueled by luck, terror, and light hearted sibling bickering. It was the summer between 5th and 6th grade and we had just moved into a new house. Only some of the games were unpacked, including the first Pikmin game, so I figured to go ahead and play it sense I hadn't touched it in a while. I did really well, actually! I unlocked the Distant Spring for the first time ever that summer and I was eager to explore this new area. So I gathered up a crop of 100 blue pikmin and set out for the large lake within this area. While running around, though, I came across a large egg on a flower shaped island. I walked up to it but it didn't do anything, so I walked away to continue my adventure into the wilds beyond
The end of the in-game day soon came, and I made my way back to base. I had to hurry, as the final countdown had caught me off-guard and I only had so much time to ensure my pikmin would be safe. However, when I got back to base, I saw a huge shadow monster screaming at an onion. It then turned its glowing pink eyes towards me, and began approaching... then the end of day cutscene stopped its hunt as Olimar put the pikmin away as if he hadn't just seen a horrific monster right next to his ship. When the next day began, I realized the egg was now missing and I knew that the monster had hatched from the egg. Had I stuck around any longer, I would have had to fight it! I was so freaked out, that monster was terrifying! So told my little brother all about it.
He, of course, didn't believe me.
Now I was a man on a mission! To prove to him that there really was a shadow monster that screamed at Onions, I guided him through the game. With my help, he got to the Distant Spring as well! We headed towards the flower shaped island that the egg rested on...
And the egg wasn't fucking there.
My brother turns to me with the most unamused glare. But I wasn't giving up hope, not yet! I asked my mother to use the computer, was granted access, and searched for information regarding the game. Soon, I had came across the Pikipedia - a fan-made wiki of pikmin information - and I was in great luck. Their article on the Smoky Progg was featured, letting me immediately see the image of the beast that had mildly terrorized me. I got to read all about it, how it is an optional mini boss, how you can only fight it on or before the fifteenth day, how its body was made of a poison that could instantly kill your pikmin, how it screamed at Onions so that it could uproot pikmin just to kill them, and more! I showed all of this to my brother - proof that the beast existed, the reason why he didn't see it - and he responded with a resounding "oh okay".
I ended up spending the rest of that afternoon on the Pikipedia, reading anything I could get my grubby little hands on. Doing this led me to learn that Pikmin 3 had recently been announced and would come out in August. It was the first game whose development I followed closely, and I logged onto the computer almost every day eager for more information. If there was nothing new, I just searched for anything else. I found many of my favorite YouTubers this way and, for better and worse, was generally introduced to the wider internet.
My love and fascination with the franchise has not waned a bit. I even have a physical collection of merch (see below)! Most of what I do online still revolves around pikmin, and I cannot exaggerate my excitement and hype for when both Pikmin 3 Deluxe and Pikmin 4 were announced. I've been sucked into the fandom, and I don't easily see myself getting back out. Not that I'd want to; I'm perfectly happy where I am.
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I can't choose just one, they're all so cute! Reds are so feice, blues are such a nice colors, yellows have adorabl ears, purples have a very huggable form (and are incredibly overpowered in the second game), whites have a lot of spunk, rocks litterally look like a rock with googly eyes and a stick on their head and it's adorable, wings are so so cute and I want to fly too (and they are also ovrpowered in the third game), and the new ice pikmin look so silly and fun and I adore them. Also! Bulbmin are litteraly puppies, and evn though mushroom pikmin are mean I still think they're cool.
So, no, I don't have a favorite. They're all so precious.Back to Top
That would be Captain Olimar! He's the most developed character in the game, aruably the most developed character Nintendo has ever made. You get the chance to really get into his head and understand him on a few diffrent levels, learning about his strengths, weaknesses, and life. He's kind, but still short tempered, incredibly smart (but also very dumb occasionally), passsionate about what he does, he has body image issues, caring and loving twoards his family and his family, hoplessly homesick, has a nasty sweet tooth. Hell, we even know minor stuff like how he accidently called his teacher "mom" as a kid. And he's just a guy!!! He's not a badass space bounty hunter, an athletic every-man who saves princesses every other weekend, a baby god, or a chosen-one twink who has a magical sword. He's a depressed middle aged man with a wife, two children, and a mortgage (probably) who's only going on these adventures by a mix of pure chance and the whims of capitalism. Seriously, though, this man's job keeps pulling him away from his family and it's easy to get mad or sad for him while reading his thoughts about this.
He's the easiest to relate to, has the most to him, and reminds me just a bit of my own dad. Not sure what else to say, I just like the funky little alien dad.Back to Top
My favorite game is easily the first. Out of the three current main-line games, it captures what I like about pikmin the best. It's a little on the short side, but that makes it more replayable to really nail down your strategy for getting everything done in a timely manner. It appears to be so bright and cheery, but it's actually not quite so cheery. Not in a "your childhood is RUINED", messed up kind of way, but in a realistic way. Of course the pikmin can die. Of course Olimar can die. Of course seeing pikmin be killed by a bombrock would horrify Olimar. Of course he'd feel intense guilt for getting the pikmin killed, and unease at the thought they may see him as a father figure despite that. Of course he misses his family dearly, and has doubts if he'll even get back home. Of course the creatures of this planet are strange and terrifying - it's an alien planet! Well, to him at least. To us it is clearly Earth, but something is eerily wrong. All of this is contrasted hard with the bright colors of the games visuals, cheery music, and general light hearted tone. I know its the least refined game and its code is held together with bubblegum and prayer, but I still like it the most. It has good vibes.Back to Top