Pikmin, For the Hardcore Only
The Nintendo Universe is one pockmarked with black holes.
The Nintalker-downers constantly complain about the sunshine-laden lands that are the many Nintendo franchises, always chiding the games for kiddy-approaches and not having a drop of darkness.
And it’s hard to discredit them. Between Pikachu’s smile, Penguin suit Mario, and Tingle…oh Tingle, when compared to truly drab titles such as Amnesia or Dark Souls, the Big N certainly seems the rosier alternative in the wide world on electronic entertainment.
My fellow Ninterrorists will do our damndest to illuminate the dark corners. We’ll point and shout at every title in the Metroid series, constantly point out that Resident Evil 4 was initially Nintendo exclusive, and we’ll echo the screams of Ocarina’s ReDeads, and at best we’ll get a half-hearted “Meh.” It’s a hopeless hope.
Or at least it is with those tactics.
You see, I believe the dirt lies beneath it all. I think Nintendo’s heart pumps blacker than we think, but you gotta do some digging to find the tarnished gold. And I think the biggest clandestine culprit of all is one of my favorite, and certainly most flowery franchises:
On the surface Pikmin is more adorable than a basket of napping puppies. Briefly: you play as an ADORABLE little space captain who crash lands on an ADORABLE little planet that’s filled with ADORABLE little critters called Pikmin. Just look at ‘em. LOOK.
Even the “bad guys” are pretty goddamn cute, too! They done gots polka dots!
In the game you are tasked with retrieving the missing parts of your ship to return to your home planet. The Pikmin assist you in this quest fulfilling a number of tasks such as carrying the pieces of your ship back to base, helping build bridges, doing battle with enemies, and so much more all the while looking like a walking candy/toy/happiness store. They even sing a little song!
Pikmin continued in the adorable trend this time replacing ship parts with treasures and introducing two new classes of Pikmin including my favorite: the mighty Purple Pikmin.
All in all, Pikmin is more puppy of a videogame than one of Nintendo’s other endearing franchises: Nintendogs. You play with a smile on your face, a twinkle in your thumb, and nothing but sunshine until the day is done.
think about it.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. As far as we can tell, the Pikmin are slave labor.
Sure, it seems as if they’re following Olimar, but that’s only surmised by your ship’s computer and is never expressly stated by the Pikmin themselves. For all we know, the alien Olimar is giving off some sort of pheromone that causes the Pikmin to heed his every whim no matter how degrading or dangerous. Or maybe his whistle is hypnotic. Or perhaps they’re too terrified of this new predator to say no. Either way, we base our use of them off a theory from a cold, calculating machine. We never really try to communicate with them. Maybe their little cheery tune is actually them pleading for the their lives to the not-listening Olimar. Maybe their final words aren’t piercing his helmet. Either way, we’ll never know.
Now, you may claim that it’s mostly harmless. All they’re doing is carrying chairs and flattening paper bags! But oh, no, it doesn’t just stop there. The Pikmin planet is littered with predators of all shapes and sizes. I’ve already posted the cutie-patootie little Ladybug-looking creature…but get a load of their mamma.
Or the fire version!
And that’s just the beginning. This planet is teeming with terror. I’ve gasped more at some of the surprise creatures in the Pikmin series than anything Resident Evil threw at me. Talk about lulling you into a false sense of security. In Pikmin, you are marooned in the goddamn wilderness and this game is here to show you that there are no rules other than kill or be killed.
Or, rather, kill your Pikmin or have your Pikmin killed.
You see, while Olimar and gang can fight, the game is impossible to win without your Pikmin doing battle, as well. And while you would hope that most foes could be defeated with maybe a handful, the majority of big bads require legions of Pikmin. Don’t be surprised if you go to face a boss with the maximum amount of Pikmin you can have out at once, 100, and coming back with less than a dozen…if any at all.
Or…if you want…you can just throw all your Pikmin off a cliff.
And if you say to yourself Pikmin are little more than walking blades of grass…behold this:
Yeah, what you’re seeing are the SOULS of MURDERED Pikmin ascending to let’s hope heaven. We can only assume. One thing’s for sure…they’re dead. Because of you.
And in case you forget about just how many of these poor, innocent little fellas you’ve butchered, the game keeps a running, detailed list of just how many Pikmin have been lost. Check it out.
Add to the game the anxiety-inducing eternal ticking clock format of gameplay, the limited number of days you have to repair Olimar’s ship or else HE TOO DIES, the hauntingly numerous ways to murder your Pikmin, and those frogs…those goddamn soulless frogs, and Pikmin goes from being a sunny day to a SUPERNOVA INCINERATING UNTOLD BILLIONS.
The implications raised by this game are freakishly bizarre. Especially for Nintendo. But when you think about it…the company already has games that promote slavery/dog fighting, home invasion, drug use, EXTREME gluttony, careless machine operation, and even flatulence.
Nintendon’t fuck around.