As a kid, I loved the insect-like creatures of Pikmin A bit too much. The colorful Nintendo animals radiated charm with their small heads and huge eyes. And during Pikmin It was too difficult for me to play a game. I always looked forward to watching my older brother have fun. But as we moved on, a problem arose: I couldn’t stand watching the Pikmin die.
The Pikmin series is a real-time strategy game. In the first game, you play as Captain Olimar, a space explorer who is stranded on an alien planet. He has no choice but to get home other than repairing his broken ship. He assigns the island’s native creatures, Pikmin, to survive and rebuild his ship.
Olimar can command an army of dozens (if not hundreds) of Pikmin at the same time to complete tasks like fighting other creatures and transporting ship parts. Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Pikmin, said the Inspiration for the game came from watching ants
Unfortunately for my brother, Pikmin death is all but inevitable on the show. As you explore the world with your Pikmin, there is no shortage of ways to kill it. They can be eaten. You can drown. They can be crushed. Unless you are a extremely experienced playerIt’s not uncommon to blow hundreds of Pikmin’s in a single pass.
As a result, I’ve exposed my older brother to an endless string of reviews appealing to just be better at the game. I even went so far as to cry once when he refused to return to a level and pick up a missing Pikmin.
While the average Pikmin gamer should feel okay with their deaths, it is still a shame to see them whimper and cry out sadly when they perish. You can even see a tiny ghost soar in the sky when another creature is eating you. To make the injury worse, they are the ones brave enough to face the monsters and they will be killed in the end.
Faced with this harsh reality, my brother came up with a unique solution to allay my concerns: he invented an intricate lore system in which Pikmin does not die. That way, I didn’t feel bad about her death.
How I rationalized Pikmin’s death
Here’s the overview: when a Pikmin “dies” it doesn’t actually move on to the next life, but rather the soul of each just floats back to the Onion Ship – an in- game vessel that brings out the seeds to create more Pikmin. Once there, your spirit enters a queue of other souls, where it waits to be picked again.
So let’s say we have five Pikmin and I lost three of them in battle. If I take two more from the onion ship, there will be three waiting to be reborn. If we have chosen more Pikmin than the deceased, the entire soul pool grows and with it the queue. Realistically, in this system, if you finish the game with a higher net number of Pikmin than you lose, none of them will die permanently in this system.
The tension behind Pikmin
Why I thought that a Pikmin who keeps dying is more humane than a Pikmin who dies once is a mystery to me. But I never questioned the system. I wanted to believe my brother. Even so, this additional lore helped me resolve a tension that exists internally in the game. On the one hand, we don’t want to worry about Pikmin. We must see them as disposable soldiers because we cannot be prevented from losing a single character out of hundreds. Here, too, they must correspond to an insect.
On the other hand, we have to take care of them enough so that we don’t waste them endlessly and get through the game. So the developers create incentives for us to protect them. After all, more Pikmin means more fighting power. But I always found the emotional stimulus to be much stronger. The feeling of seeing a cube is the best reason the game designers could give us to keep them safe and so make the game better.
In a medium in which characters keep dying and it has become so banal and invisible, there is something special about caring a little too much about something.