Pikmin 3

“If they carefully cultivate the seeds they’ve harvested, it just may bring salvation to the people of Koppai.”

The inhabitants of the planet Koppai have nearly exhausted their food supply “due to a booming population, booming appetites, and a basic lack of planning.” Hoping to save their home, they send out unmanned scout vessels into space to find another planet with edible matter. After discovering such a planet (one that is heavily implied to be Earth), they dispatch three explorers —Alph, Britanny, and Charlie—to investigate the area and bring back new food sources. The crew teams up with some of the local inhabitants of the planet—plant-like animals called pikmin—to collect various fruits and seeds to bring back to Koppai.

Pikmin 3 operates as a primarily optimistic cautionary tale about resource management that is palatable for young audiences, both in the directness of its story and in its engagement potential as a video game. While much of the gameplay is focused on strategy and puzzle-solving, the story element is structured around the mistake of not responsibly managing a planet’s resources. For example, the ending of the game changes slightly depending on how much fruit a player manages to collect, indicating how well the player has helped ensure the planet Koppai’s future. The game also enforces a strict time-limit in terms of the number of days available to complete the story, which again directly correlates to how much fruit the player has foraged. This gameplay mechanic creates a sense of urgency that emphasizes the importance of not being wasteful of time or resources. It’s also important to note that the approach to fixing the food crisis is not to abandon the planet or to strip another of its resources. Rather, the crew’s goal is to bring back the means to sustain life on their own planet and reduce the need to rely on other sources. The game presents its themes clearly through its plot, with the strategy element clearly supporting its ideas and ensuring the game remains entertaining and functional to play. In an educational setting, a teacher could employ this game to supplement a unit on resources and planetary care, encouraging students to consider these themes rather than focusing exclusively on gameplay.

©2024 ClimateLit (Shannon Bowers)

Pikmin 3 is available for the Wii U and the Nintendo Switch.

Publisher: Nintendo, 2013

Pages: 12 hours


Audience: Questers (8-13), Rebels (14-older)

Format: Games and Other

Topics: Earth Care, Food, Food Insecurity, Food Waste, Foraging, Fruit, Natural Resources, Resource Conservation, Waste Reduction