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Nintendo’s Underrated Franchise – An Overview of Pikmin

Promotional art for Pikmin. Photo courtesy of Nintendo.

“What is your favorite Nintendo franchise?” 

Anyone asking this question to another individual is likely met with answers such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Super Smash Bros., Metroid, etc. Among these answers, it should be no surprise Pikmin is omitted entirely. 

With the resurgence of Pikmin deriving from the release of Pikmin 4, the series has gained some traction, but not nearly enough to put it among more popular titles. Its lack of recognition is disheartening considering its diversity from other games in its genre.

Pikmin differs greatly from typical RTS games in that the series makes an effort to establish its characters’ traits and personalities in depth. Most RTS games have a set, linear plot that does not attempt to make the player care for certain characters or units. However, Pikmin differs in that aspect, particularly in Pikmin 2’s Piklopedia: an in-game encyclopedia of the enemies present in the game. Olimar’s entries in the Piklopedia give a general description of the enemies, including tidbits of Olimar’s personal life. These personal entries allow the player to feel a closer connection to Olimar, motivating players to continue fighting enemies to unlock every Piklopedia entry. 

Another key detail is the overall atmosphere the Pikmin series consistently keeps up with. It is no surprise Pikmin is a clear standout from more popular RTS games, going for a more calm approach. One of the main staples of this series is its iconic unit of choice: Pikmin. While their simplistic, yet recognizable design makes up a huge identity for the Pikmin games, people ignore the other aspects of the series that give it charm, such as the tranquil, almost majestic soundtrack paired with the nature-esque environments, giving the player a refreshing, wonderful experience. Released during the Gamecube era of Nintendo, Pikmin 1 was the first of its kind to attempt an RTS with a soothing atmosphere, continuing to simulate this same aesthetic with its newest installments in the series. For many players looking for a video game that isn’t intense or “cozy,” the Pikmin games are the perfect candidate.

Many have expressed their disapproval at the lack of innovation from the series, criticizing the similar game implementations and lack of change for core mechanics. But these individuals are fans of series following suit, such as the New Super Mario Bros. series. From its original iteration on the Nintendo DS to the Wii U, it kept the same formula of implementing new playable characters and powerups. Additionally, the plot of each game is repetitive, involving Mario saving Princess Peach from Bowser. With this viewpoint in mind, these players are giving up the chance to experience an RTS like no other, and it is likely the players ignore these minuscule flaws in the first place if they give the game a chance for themselves.

Pikmin as a whole is definitely not the definitive “best” game in the gaming world nor is it particularly life-changing, but that does not preclude it from receiving recognition. It is definitely worth checking out if someone is looking for a game that strays from traditional RTS games while providing a relaxing experience for the player.

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