GSQ6: The vegetal man

Pikmin! Man, this game. Despite the tense, terrible time restriction on each and every playthrough, my memories of this game are suffused with a sense of tranquility, of mellow relaxation: The subdued music, the sun-dappled visuals, and the general sense of quietness and intimacy that Nintendo brought to a huge impersonal genre like the RTS are the things I remember best. Johnny Driggs’ article here is a beautiful examination of a beautiful game — and when I call Pikmin beautiful, I’m not really speaking just of the graphics, but of its overall feel of serenity and… I dunno. The almost paternal feel of the game.

Man. This game.

15 thoughts on “GSQ6: The vegetal man

  1. Pikmin has got to be, in my mind, the most underappreciated gem in Nintendo’s stable. For some reason the sequel never felt quite as perfect, but the original remains a cherished gaming memory. It is happiness distilled. Miyamoto, that magician, really did create a game that felt just like innocently mucking about in a garden or forest as a child.

    Incidentally, I picked this game up on a whim. As one of the sad, sad folks that bought a Gamecube on launch day, I was starved for entertainment once I finished those six hours of Luigi’s Mansion and realized I didn’t really like Tony Hawk games.

    This and Super Smash Bros Melee came out on the same day. SSBM was the one I was drooling for, and Pikmin just seemed cute, and had the Miyamoto thing going for it, and I guess I had a bit of extra pocket money at the time. SSBM thrilled my little sister for hours, though I quickly grew tired of it. Pikmin, on the other hand, is a lovely example of being bowled over by sheer charm and fun, having had no expectations going in. I’m not sure I’ve been so warmly, fuzzily entranced ever since.

  2. Always regretted not picking this up when it came out, and I still had a Gamecube. Maybe I’ll dust off that Wii soon… ah wait, I need a Gamecube memory card, right? Yeesh. Not to hate on Nintendo too much, but they are constantly getting in the way of me playing their games.

    Here’s hoping the next generation of consoles come with a sizable hard drive and a nice download service for older PS2/GC-era games. Microsoft, with Xbox Originals, is on the right track.

      • I dunno how this version has escaped me. I haven’t even heard of these New Play Control series games… I thought Metroid Prime was the only “Wiimake.” Granted, I don’t follow the Wii too closely, but somehow I should have heard of this! Thanks for the headsup.

      • Please don’t mention the Wii version of Pikmin, because then I get annoyed that NOA didn’t bother to bring over the Wii version of the sequel. What the hell, NOA?

      • While I 100% sympathize with you, I have to mention it simply because I missed Pikmin the first time around and didn’t play it until it was on the Wii…and while I think the controls are just about the best thing ever, I am sad I failed to support it the first time around, poor college student or not.

        Anyway, Mr. Driggs’ article perfectly summed up what makes the game so special, I think. Kudos on that!

      • Preaching to the choir on that one, I played Pikmin for the first time on the Wii and loved it. When I finally gave up on the Wii version of the second one ever making it here I bought a used copy of the Gamecube version from a guy on talking time. Unfortunately I don’t seem to have the Parish curse of making remakes get released here by buying the original.

  3. I’m also in the camp that preferred the first Pikmin to the second. The first game was really short and the second one much longer. However I much preferred the tighter design of Pikmin to the dozens of randomly generated levels in Pikmin 2.

  4. Does anyone know if ‘Pikmin’ is two condensed words (i.e. pocket + monster = Pokemon) or if it’s just one made-up word? Either way, I originally thought it was a Pokemon spin-off when I first read about it in Nintendo Power.

    And yes, it’s criminally underrated.

    • I don’t think it’s a portmanteau. A Treehouse guy once told me the original name of the game was “Pikpik: The Vegetal Man” (hence this post’s title) and I think they just kind of condensed that. To my knowledge Pikpik is not a real word!

  5. Haven’t commented in awhile. I just thought I had to question your use of “tense, terrible time restriction” in regards to Pikmin. I’ll just say I think the time limit works: Both as part of the narrative (and games should always marry story and mechanics right? :) ), and as a necessary part of what makes it a good game.

    We could argue about player agency and how important it is to let people do whatever the hell they want in a game. However, I believe that the time restriction is necessary to keep the game flowing and in a sense cover over the fact that it really isn’t a deep experience either in gameplay or in the exploration of the world. When you come right down to it, the game world is pretty artificial and once it’s explored, that’s it, there’s nothing more for you to see or really do. (except fight a few creatures whose appearance is based on getting to some locations quickly)

    Without going into an article that’s longer than the one linked to… I guess I should just say that the overall time limit is added with the same kind of discipline that allows some studios make games like Portal that are short and sweet. You remember it as a nice experience that you want more of, and aren’t just allowed to wallow in it until you’re sick of it and just finish out of a sense of obligation.

    Which is kind of how I’m feeling about Dragon Quest 8 right now.

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