Saturday, August 22, 2009


Saturday morning at our house means family gaming. This usually involves playing a variety of board games from my collection with my 8 year old daughter and mother (who visits for a couple of hours every Saturday). Because my wife is at work and our younger 3.5 year old daughter is too young to play we choose games that allow three-players.

Now we haven't played many board games over the last couple of months. The main reason for this is that we have been engrossed in playing Pikmin on the Wii console. Pikmin was originally released for Nintendo's GameCube video game console back in 2001 but was re-released and became available in Australia this year with new play control for the Wii (conveniently just in time for Maddie's birthday in June).

Pikmin is a real-time strategy video game where you control Captain Olimar, a tiny space-faring astronaut from the planet Hocotate. Captain Olimar has unfortunately crash-landed on a planet and your goal is to help him locate the missing 30 pieces of his crashed spaceship so that he can rebuild it and return to his family. There is an urgency to this as you only have 30 days before his life-support system is exhausted.

Captain Olimar soon comes into contact with strange alien beings called Pikmin. These small creatures have characteristics of being half plant and half animal and they follow Captain Olimar around and do his bidding. They come in three colours - red, blue and yellow. Each colour has it's own special abilities and Captain Olimar must discover how to use each type of Pikmin in the most efficient way to help him locate and then transport his ship pieces back to the main ship.

Even though it is a single-player game it is fun to watch and has a nice soundtrack. Being more adept at the controls I usually play while Maddie and my mum (AKA Grandma) give advice. It feels like we're all playing together to achieve a goal. I have to admit that at some points in the game, where I have been unsure of how to proceed, it has been my 8 year old daughter Maddie who has made a suggestion that has then allowed us to progress. So this is really a great problem-solving game for kids as well as adults.

Pikmin shares many elements of what I enjoy in board games. It's has worker placement, resource management, puzzle completion, and heck, it even has combat. With beautiful graphics and easy game play with the Wii remote, this is a game I highly recommend.

Maddie has already written a note to Santa that she'd love Pikmin 2 as a present. I'm also excited to learn that Pikmin 3 is currently in development. Here's a link to the official Pikmin site. Search YouTube for Pikmin game play if you're interested in seeing how the game plays.

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