Double Agent
Ai no uta - February 6, 2002 - Erin Mehlos

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this column are those of the participants and the moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. This column brought to you by Nutella -- it's Kobe's favorite! Don't say we didn't warn you.

I wonder how many more copies of Pikmin Nintendo may have been able to push in Japan had the game itself featured Strawberry Flower's "Ai No Uta." Sales of the simplistic melody about the depressingly selfless life of a Pikmin used in the JP commercial topped 60 million in December -- burying sales of the game itself. Go figure.


/me gets Erin a Pikmin sandwich. Enjoy. It's rather tasty, just like the game.


Thanks, but I've moved on. I no longer want a sandwich. My only desire now is Crispix. Crispix dripping with luscious Nutella. It's Kobe's favorite!

Refreshing crack

I admit this was a game you would look at and wonder what the hell was nintendo smoking when they came up with this game. But as i played it i enjoyed it. It was something new in a genre of games that are nothing but stale rehashed genres that need no mentioning. I just wish more systems would have the balls to come out with games like these. Until japan stops screwing us we'll never see good games like tokimeki memorial or sakura wars come out in america.


Why should they give us Tokimeki Memorial when something markedly less offbeat like Pikmin can't even bring 20 letters in to Double Agent...?

Under the gun -- or sun, as it were

I'd appreciate Pikmin a lot more if not for one thing: the do-or-die timer. Where did Nintendo get the idea that having to accomplish things under a strict timeline makes games more enjoyable? I loved the sense of 'being there' in Ocarina of Time, but Majora's Mask was completely ruined for me because no matter what I was doing, I had to hurry. And if Metroid is really all about atmosphere and exploration, why withhold the 'best' ending unless you rush through in under two hours (I admit seeing a sprite in a swimsuit isn't a great reward, but it's the principle that bugs me). Neither of those was Miyamoto's fault, but Pikmin is. It's really hard to enjoy running around and playing with your spaceman when he's fated to die unless you hustle.


Love it or hate it, Pikmin's principal challenge is often the shortness of the game's days. Prioritizing is difficult in the face of the ominously ticking clock, and its overly easy to get sidetracked with the particulars of sowing, organizing, and ensuring the safety of your troops, so that, at the end of the day, very little's been accomplished save the death and replacement of 30 or so Pikmin -- in the name of exploration: something that, alas, this otherwise fulfilling game doesn't allow enough of.

Underwhelmed in Seattle

Hey Erin,

I'm glad we finally have a topic that I can write in about, not owning ever owning a PSX/PS2 always leaves me feeling a little excluded.

Anyway, I have mixed feelings on Pikmin. It is a very ambitious game, and was in fact, Nintendo's most expensive title to produce yet. It's a charming, fun, creative game, that showcases both the Gamecube's technical abilities and Nintendo's originality and accesible, fun gameplay. However, there are some issues with Pikmin that need working on, especially the time limit. I know it's important to the plot of the game, but i think the game could become so much more if that aspect was changed. Also, it just wasn't as "magical" as many other Nintendo games, it seemed to lack some undetecable, yet still very vital, element that left me feeling incomplete after playing the game. I beat the game, still missing one or two parts, but felt uncompelled to go back, unlock the final boss area, and properly finish the game. I just didn't care. Don't get me wrong, Pikmin is still a good/great title, and definetly worth checking out, but from Nintendo, I guess I was just expecting more. Unfourtanetly this is how I've felt with pretty much all of the Gamecube's line up so far, except for of course, Super Smash Bros.

-Underwhelmed by the Pikmin:
Samber Dogg

While I'd tend to disagree somewhat that Pikmin is without the ambience of childlike wonder that characterizes Miyamoto's work, I will concede it's not quite as rich in this intangible quality as previous games. Part of the reason for this, I have to conclude, is its meticulously realized setting, with its majestic dandelions and glistening waters, inspires us to explore and experience this tiny alien world much further than the gameplay allows. Pikmin frustrates the gamer in much the same way that being married to someone with religious objections to tennis who nonetheless insists on spending every Sunday picnicking next to a tennis court frustrates an avid tennis player.

Will you be my friend too?


Long time reader, first time writer. I am a twenty-five year old graduate student who has completely fallen in love with this game. Not only is Pikmin a worthy addition to Miyamoto's 'gameography,' in my mind it is one of the best. I can only speak for myself but here's why I think so:

For the first time that I can remember, and I have been playing games for over half my life, when I finished Pikmin I started a new game immediately. I didn't even wait five minutes before starting all over again. The game is just that much fun. I have never done this before! Of course, I was a little disappointed that the real strategy didn't come in to play until the last area, but that only made me realize the immense potential of this series.

If you haven't played this game yet, give it a try. There really is something special about seeing your Pikmin army set about their myriad tasks. This was a game I didn't see coming, though now I know I should never doubt a product that is developed by Miyamoto. Eagerly anticipating the sequel,

Olimar's new friend

Just as there is something special about seeing your Pikmin set about their myriad tasks, there is something tragic about watching their spirits escape into the ether like so much Freon-12. How it's possible to to imbue an army of hundreds of identical little sprout-things with so much character I cannot say, but Pikmin manages to pull it off.

Brevity loves company

I won a GameCube about a week ago and since then my wife and I have completed Luigi's Mansion and less than fifteen hours of total gameplay...with only about three hours of replay on Pikmin. Now we liked both of these games and Pikmin in particular was awesome, but that is not much time for two games. I played Super Mario 64 over and over and over...and I still can. Their brevity reminds me of Starfox 64, the game which taught me that you should always rent a game before you buy it. But SF64 is the only pre-GCN Miyamoto game (,36620/) I can think of that suffered due to the lack of length/replay value (note: in their time the original Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. kept me playing for weeks). Again, don't get me wrong, Pikmin was great. For instance my wife had to leave the room when I tackled the final boss, because seeing that many Pikmin die disturbed her on a level that I can only attribute to ultimate fanboyism. I too was hesitant to send out my troops and often found myself spending time working out ways to reduce the loss of Pikmin lives and pressing reset when too many of my comrades went down in the line of duty. So, in answer to your question, yes, Pikmin is a worthy addition to the master's gameography, but it is also the second game in what appears to be a disturbing trend. Let us hope that the Sunshine in Mario's new title is not a metaphor for the amount of time it will take you to beat the game.

-Baer and Beth Bradford

I'm becoming less and less disturbed by brevity in the latest crop of games -- probably because I have less and less time. True, we're getting less bang for our buck, so to speak, but at the same time I think a game can ultimately have more thematic impact when its concept is not stretched too thin. ICO, for example, made masterful use of its 7 or so hours of gameplay. So much so that I can't imagine it having been any longer -- it simply would have been diluting the effect.

Similarly, I have to wonder: would sending those throngs of Pikmin off to die trouble you so deeply if you'd been desensitized by 40 hours' worth of gameplay?

The master of abrupt endings strykes again

Erin -

I haven't touched Pimin. Nothing personal, I just don't seem to have enough of that cash thing. Sure I COULD buy it, but since my shiny new car is under my parent's name with me making the payments, a repossesion for the sake of a Gamecube isn't too likely.

I would, however, love to hear what everyone tihnks about the game. Why? You ask, if I am not going to be able to play it? Simple. Schmit, I KNOW you're reading this, so what I may do, is threaten to buy the PS2 port of Grandia 2. He's so in love with the game that he will do anything to prevent me from playing such an impure bastardization of one of the greatest games of all time, including giving me his Miyamoto Machine.

Because you know that's all the GC is, a big playhouse for the man with a bunch of shitty ports. Oh, and some Sega stuff.

That, and the game seems so...weird. Use your garden to rebuild your spaceship. THAT is a plot. Shakespear eat your heart out. Hamlet's mass suicide has NOTHING on the sickenign twist during which you undoubtedly run out of pesticide just as Bowl Weevil season appears. And the growth of weeds everywhere will have gamers worldwide sitting on the edge of their seats as your pikmin battle the evil dandelions for the sunlight!!!

I'm really sorry, but its three in the morning, and every now and again I just feel like sending in a letter that makes no sense whatsoever.


Ray Stryker...intent on getting Kingdom Hearts. He'll just tell everyone at the store it's a birthday present for the same person he bought the Enya CD for for Christmas. What he won't tell him is that they happen to be him...

No sense whatsoever? Mission accomplished.

Copping out and cracking down

Hi Erin,

I don't have anything to add to the topic, since I've never played Pikimin and don't even own a Gamecube (yet), but there's something I wanted to bring up for the "no fucking sense of humor" file. I was cruising the website for the National Organization for Women just now (hey, I'm a feminist and I agree with their goals) and was shocked but not surprised by this link:

Yes, in this time of a conservative presidency stomping all over women's rights, apparently Grand Theft Auto 3 is the Most Evil Thing Ever And Must Be Stopped. Needless to say, I gave them an earful.

I like using the character swapping cheat code, playing as the hookers, and beating up pimps. Evidently I'm the only member of NOW with a sense of humor.

I know you fine folks at The GIA don't officially cover GTA3, but I just had to share this. I'm sick and tired of ignorant people on both sides of the political spectrum trashing my beloved hobby.

-Celestra, Token Gamer Chick

Thanks for the link. I recommend that anyone terminally bored or otherwise in the mood for a good old-fashioned outrage hop on over and check out their joke of a call to arms.

I, for one, find it reassuring that in this day and age when conservatives threaten women's rights to abortion and Tricia Cusack embarrasses feminism with her assertions that snowmen are deliberately sexist symbols of white male oppression, the cowgirls of women's rights have got their priorities straight.

You'll be happy to know, Celestra, that I, too, sent them an Email brimming with my characteristically demure brand of sunshine.


(Aunty) EM,

At the moment, only the news of Xenosaga is keeping me in the RPG genre.

No big loss, I'm sure, but just listen: the last four RPGs I've played have been Legend of Dragoon, WA2, ZOE, and FFX. Not exactly the kind of stellar games that remind me why I enjoy spending 60 hours in front of a TV screen. On the other hand, all of the non-RPG games since then have been amazing; SSB: Melee, Twisted Metal Black, and GTA3 have all kept me entertained for just as long without all the boring plot, random battles, or otherwise frivolous clichés that we have endured in the RPG arena for years.

So the question is: why can't RPG makers get off their collective asses and make a GOOD game for a change? Jesus Christ, we have three consoles capable of rendering Toy Story on the fly and still we must get in a random battle every 6 seconds? Our machines can crunch millions of polygons simultaneously and yet we can't program anything other than the most obvious of plot twists? When did "epic" become defined as "saving the world"? When did a "deep" storyline become synonymous with "60+ hours of gameplay"? What the fuck happened to RPGs being such a dynamic medium of story-telling?

Now, while GTA3 is the Fight Club of gaming, where the hell is the American Beauty? The Gladiator? The Saving Private Ryan? The Schindler's List? Or even The Lord of the Rings? Where are the games, specifically RPGs, that are supposed to be redefining the way we play?

I'm looking around today, and all I see are a bunch of goddamn Titanics.

-Red Raven

Yes, but just think how many of these Titanics we haven't yet discussed....

Closing Comments:

Continuing our magical mystery tour of overcompensation for our earlier neglect, we move along to a game that doesn't even fall within the GIA's coverage, but, hey, neither does Halo, and you guys didn't mind talking smack about that. Moreover, I think we should honor (and when I say honor, I mean "piss off") the NOW.

That's right. Tomorrow, even if it is a little after-the-fact, let's do GTA3. Do you think bludgeoning prostitutes to death to save cash was a little over-the-top? More importantly, was bludgeoniing prostitutes to death to save cash so much fun you just didn't care? I look forward to hearing from you -- especially those of you starting work on that car bomb you promised. Yeah, it's the '02 Cougar in front of the office. Why did I park there? No reason.

- Erin Mehlos

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