Pikmin 3’s “Nintendo Gloss”

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My Wii U was purchased at launch. To date, I own no games aside from a handful of thirty cent Virtual Console titles and two small eShop efforts. Pikmin 3? It justifies the Wii U.

Pikmin is a flawed franchise. Amongst Nintendo’s elite, it is complexity built upon complexity, and with a trio of control schemes, Pikmin barely fits into any of them.

But, with a sincere visual aura depicting miniaturized nature, Pikmin is infectiously beautiful and cruel. Disposable as they are, leaf or flower topped Pikmin perishing after being left alone on this unnamed mass of Earth-like landscapes is disheartening. Their chirps and shrieks of fear are alarming.

Berate Pikmin 3 for its lack of franchise innovation and you wouldn’t be wrong. Yet, Nintendo’s man-vs-nature story remains a reclusive outcast; there is nothing else like it. With a pittance of improvements and additions, it holds a title of immensely innovative in an era of wandering complaints about lack of originality. Puzzle solving, management, and exploration are with… Nintendo gloss.

“Nintendo gloss” is a polish, a layer of determined perfectionism that creates a binding draw between audience and developer. Pikmin 3’s level design appears simple – a means of keeping Pikmin in line when their lowly AI falters – yet holds devilish, clever puzzles within. Structure is precise and calculated, never wandering outside of linear boundaries. Gloss is also freshness, a means of delivering something new and generously broad in design scope.

Nintendo has timed their releases of Pikmin as to not strain concepts. Whereas New Super Mario Bros. has been run aground by repeated grabs at simplicity, Pikmin was dormant for the entirety of the Wii era, with the exception of a re-release under the New Play Control banner. Holding onto franchises, letting appeal grow and want blossom, keeps material special. I’m groaning at the thought of another New Super Mario Bros., and invested in Pikmin.

Pikmin is a game about natural competition, nature’s cruelty in a predator versus prey scenario. Here we are in a situation where nothing has latched onto these ideals to clone success. It is an ultimate predator, and while it appeal is stricter than a broad, sweeping Wii Sports or Mario, this preppy space jaunt is pure wonderment.