Tips for Playing Pikmin 3

Pikmin 3 is good at many things. But it's not so good at explaining the best parts of its control scheme or even how to have the most fun with Nintendo's new game. Thank goodness we're here to provide you some tips...

Use The Wii Remote, Nunchuk and GamePad

You can control Pikmin 3 purely with the Wii U GamePad or with the Pro Controller. Don't. The ideal scheme is: Wii Remote + Nunchuk + GamePad. The Remote enables you to precisely point your cursor at any enemy, object or obstruction and then either lock on or simply start tossing your Pikmin in that direction. Without the Remote, you'll be relying on the game's own smart cursor and lock-on. That's fine for ground enemies but not so hot when you want to target airborne ones.

Tips for Playing Pikmin 3

Lock On! Then Think About Charging

Once your cursor is pointing at an enemy, an object or even a wall, pull the Z trigger on the Nunchuk or left trigger in any other scheme. This locks your camera. You can now circle strafe. Some Pikmin 3 newbies don't know this. It's a tragedy. By locking on you can be on offense and defense. Even better... you can charge. This is so, so, soooo important. Shake the Nunchuk or press B in any other scheme and your entire horde of Pikmin will charge at whatever you locked onto. This is crucial if you need to bash down a wall or rush an enemy and don't want to waste the time or effort to toss Pikmin at them one at a time.

Use The GamePad Map As Much As You Can

You might think that placement of Pikmin 3's map on the GamePad screen is a gimmick, a failure of development imagination or a way to slightly de-clutter the TV screen. Maybe. But what it's great for is automated movement. See, the best thing about Pikmin 3's control scheme is that you can automate a lot of your characters' actions. By sliding a stylus across the touch-sensitive GamePad map, you can assign whichever Pikmin explorer you are currently controlling to go to the place you have centered on your map. He or she will then march there with any of his/her assigned Pikmin in tow. You may not get this at first. The waypointing system is implemented weirdly. Usually, games let you move a waypoint cursor and place it on a map, but in this game, the waypoint cursor is fixed and you're moving the map underneath it. That's bizarre, but learning how to use this system—learning how to have Pikmin and their leaders marching to and fro—will transform the game for you.

Allow Pikmin to Die

Don't be so precious about keeping each of your Pikmin alive. They may be cute, but they are meant to be expendable. Harsh, yes, but such is the law of this series' zoomed-in jungle. Pikmin players may be tempted to restart a day-chapter of the game if any Pikmin croak. Get over it! Replenish your stock of little warriors by regularly tossing a few Pikmin at various colored pellets. They will drag them back to base. Those pellets will generate more Pikmin. They'll generate even more if the majority of Pikmin that dragged them were the same color as the pellet. Naturally, you should use the GamePad to send one of your explorers to homebase to grab the Pikmin who just hauled those pellets and then use the automated-movement system again to bring that explorer and the Pikmin to their next task. (Bonus tip/reminder: You do know that you can have double the recommended number of Pikmin drag something, right?)

Kill The Butterflies

They're not trying to harm you, but red and yellow butterflies do contain Pikmin-empowering nectar. So, do what must be done.

Leave Your Planted Pikmin Underground For As Long As Possible

The longer you wait to pluck your Pikmin from the earth, the more time they'll have to evolve from leaf to bud to flower-topped critters. The flower-tops are the fastest. You want them.

Find The Suit Upgrades

The game's map will direct you to enemies and fruit, but it won't show you where your lead characters' upgrade items are. Hunt for them. Especially the one that then allows your entire squad to do evasive dodges while you're in combat. Look for that one in the snow area.

Don't Worry About Finishing The Game Too Soon

You may reach the game's final boss sooner than you want to. That's kind of a bummer. Pikmin 3 isn't that long a game, after all. But don't be sad. You can rewind to any earlier day in your adventure and resume playing from there, delaying combat with the final boss and spending more time hunting for all 66 pieces of in-game fruit, finding all the hidden items and just generally having a good time. Then you can finish the game again, having hopefully gotten your money's worth.

Play The Game's Extra Missions With Someone Else

Local co-op is fun!

So is competitive multiplayer.

And if you're playing multiplayer, scrub through a replay of the match you just completed on the GamePad. Study what went right and what went disastrously wrong. Learn. Improve.

Have Pikmin 3 tips of your own? Share them below.

To contact the author of this post, write to stephentotilo@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo.