I managed to platinum all of Pikmin 3’s basic missions without too much trouble, can crack the main campaign, fully, in sub-15 days, and have a strategy to beat most of the game’s bosses in roughly two minutes each. That’s not me boasting. Well, it is a bit, but I think it’s important to place my credentials on the table so that I can comfortably, and with authority, tell you the following: Missions 12-15 are hard.
I say that, they’re easy enough to just play through – in some ways they’re actually easier than the core challenges thanks to not relying as much on the big annoying baddies – but getting those platinum medals? Bloomin’ heck, these are some tight, testing challenges.
So what does purchasing this DLC get you? Four new Collect Treasure maps and four new Battle Enemies challenges that can be played both solo and in two player co-op. They’re the same four maps in each category, and playing through the challenges, once each, will take around an hour and a bit.
For those worried, the four maps here are completely new. Previous Pikmin 3 DLC added hours worth of extra challenge but in the most tight fisted way conceivable, in that they were simply re-jigged versions of the existing maps with new enemy and fruit placement. Missions 12-15 are completely new, and that means new maps, new visual elements, new music and even new mechanics.
Beastly Caverns, for example, experiments with a side-on perspective by surrounding a central overhead zone with an ant-hill like construction. It’s not completely 2D, you can run into and out of the screen, but it’s a cute smidgen of camera experimentation quite unlike anything else in the series (though the ‘plays better with Wii-mote’ conclusion of Adam’s review only rings more true than ever on this level).
Elsewhere Clockwork Chasm presents you with conveyor belts that are in constant motion. There are buttons littered around the stage, and hurling a Pikmin onto one will change the direction of the belts. This adds an interesting rhythm to the stage, creating unique micro-management considerations which can cause vigorous head-scratching in co-op.
You’ll control Olimar in these levels, too, but this is little more than pandering to fans. Olimar doesn’t play any differently to his Koppai cousins, but his grunts and effects do add a nice bit of nostalgia. Louie’s appearance is slightly more interesting. In some levels Louie will start incapacitated until you rescue him, meaning that your third captain, and the associated advantages they bring, are locked off until you do the legwork to retrieve him. This adds an interesting element for high score fans: do you rescue Louie early for that micro-management advantage, or leave him be as you don’t think you need the third leader? Decisions decisions…
Ultimately, that’s what defines the Pikmin 3 Missions 12-15 DLC – they’re brain ticklers. New elements are designed to throw your usual mental rhythms and ideas through a loop, and levels are crafted with a keen eye for particular mechanics. The Battle Enemies variant of the Clockwork Chasm level, for example, puts a key focus on bombs and where you should use them, while the conveyor belts add new, pressing concerns as to how you should separate your captains. In the Collect Treasure variant of this map you’ll need to be more aware of travelling fruit than usual, as a conveyor travelling the wrong way will put an instant halt to your minion’s kleptomania.
Not all four levels are as new as one another in terms of fresh imagination, but what the other two stages lack in new ideas they make up for, slightly, in fun visual design. Discarded gardening glove bridges and traversable one-way vacuum hose tunnels recall a more Pikmin/Pikmin 2 discarded trash-like approach to environmental design, which is actually quite an interesting sight after the more organic bent of Pikmin 3’s campaign.
VERDICT: It’s a painful cliché, but it’s the glove that fits – your mileage will vary. Missions 12-15 are, ultimately, high score missions and, for a Pikmin 3 addict like myself, the elevated challenge and smattering of new ideas make this DLC a solid, game-extending treat. I’ve already spent a good few hours in the levels myself, and have only claimed two solo platinum medals. For those that prefer a bit of narrative to frame their Pikmin marshalling, however, this DLC will certainly entertain with its experimentation, but is ultimately slight if you don’t intend to play them again, and again in search of bigger numbers.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.
Download code provided by publisher.