Thursday, November 7, 2019

Playing Pikmin for Gamecube - 18 Years Later

By December 2, 2001 The name Shigeru Miyamoto was already infamous. The creator of Donkey Kong, Super Mario, and Zelda had firmly cemented himself as the father of modern gaming. And though some would argue that Super Mario 64 back in 1996 was his last great innovation leading up to 2001, needless to say we were all waiting with bated breath for what would come next. And with intrigue, mystery, and some slight disappointment... Pikmin was born.

In 2001 I was 14. Pokemon had taken over my life, and the Gamecube was my home console of choice. Luigi's Mansion didn't interest me in the slightest, so Rogue Squadron and Monkeyball were my go to games while we all waited for Smash Bros Melee to be released in time for Christmas. And from what I remember, Pikmin wasn't even on my radar. The conversation was so dominated by hype for Melee that Pikmin kinda got lost in the shuffle for me.

Not a bad run for my first time playing in 18 years!
December finally rolled around and 2 new first-party games graced store shelves on that winter day in GameStop. Pikmin, a weird garden themed RTS featuring an astronaut nobody had ever heard of, and Super Smash Bros Melee. Well you can guess which game went home with me that day. It wasn't until the Gamecube's "greatest hits" series launched that I would finally give Pikmin a real shot. It was interesting, is not a little disappointing for my hyper teenage brain. So I politely set it aside for the next big thing, probably Metroid Prime 2.

Fast Forward 18 years. I'm 33 now, I have a burning nostalgia for the video games of my youth, and the means to re-acquire them without going broke. So when the Gamecube entered my life for the second time, it wasn't Melee or Metroid Prime or Animal Crossing that popped into my head, it was Pikmin. For some reason Pikmin HAD to be the first game I play. And after finally beating it 18 years later, I finally understand it.

As a youth I found the concept of Pikmin intriguing, but I found the mission structure and controls hard to grasp. I'm sure it was a combination of ADHD and my brain being rotted by twin stick FPS controls. But I could never get passed a certain point in the game without giving up. The challenge stopped being fun. I felt unprepared for every battle I faces, and the clock wasn't motivation as much as it was a nuisance (something later games fixed).

Today playing Pikmin for nostalgia, I found myself completely lost in the world. Perhaps having a serene backdrop with calming music was such a different and welcome pace of life in contrast to my kid-filled, responsibility-driven lifestyle. Pikmin was undeniably welcoming. I found building up my stock of pikmin and multitasking strangely satisfying. And the controls no longer bothered me, which is probably due to the diverse types of games I'm used to playing on Switch today. I can totally understand this game being boring for a Teen. It was designed by an adult who enjoys gardening, and it honestly is best enjoyed by a similar demographic, which I find myself in today.

Pikmin has it's problems. Some of the puzzles require you to already know what you need going in. and if you're unprepared, the consequences can really set you back. But I find Pikmin to be serene, and infinitely replayable. You can find a used copy of Gamecube for about $25 today, and I think it's worth every penny.

What's one fo your favorite underrated Gamecube games? Let me know in the comments!

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