Mission Mode (ミッション?, lit.: "Mission") is an alternate gameplay mode in Pikmin 3. It replaces the Challenge Mode found in previous games. In Mission Mode, the player completes challenges, with three different types existing. Each one has a time limit of between five and fifteen minutes, and awards the player with a ranking based on how well they performed on the mission.
The following rankings exist, and are sorted from worst to best: no medal, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. The requirements for each ranking vary between stages and mission types. When a level is complete, a quick summary of the objects collected or enemies killed is displayed, and the player is given a final score. The player can then watch a replay of the entire session.
Unlike the Challenge Mode in previous games, this one is available from the start of the game, but certain requirements must be met in order to unlock some stages: for Collect Treasure! and Battle Enemies!, players start out with only one stage available, and they must obtain at least a bronze medal in order to unlock the next stage on the line. Bosses in Defeat Bosses! mode are only made available once they're fought in Story mode.
Gameplay in this mode is mostly identical to that of story mode in the way it is controlled, and that the player never starts out with any ultra-spicy sprays, although it is possible to get some via Burgeoning Spiderworts and/or ultra-spicy nectar on certain stages. However, there are a few mission type-specific rules, and there is also the fact that the player always has the Dodge Whistle and none of the other spacesuit upgrades. If a leader loses all of their health or if a Pikmin extinction takes place, the mission is aborted.
There are three types of mission, each with a different objective, scoring system, and rules.
The goal in Collect Treasure! mode is to retrieve as many fruits, treasures, and/or enemy carcasses as possible within a limited amount of time. Players can find Pikmin to use either at the starting point, buried, scattered across the map, hidden below plants in small groups, or inside certain enemies, like the Medusal Slurker. In most missions, there is no Onion, meaning that players cannot grow any more Pikmin than the ones provided throughout the stage, although Twilight Hollow Remix and Beastly Caverns have Onions. For levels with no Onion, any recovered corpses go into the SPERO to exchange for Pokos. When Onions are present, the corpses are instead brought to them to create more Pikmin as well as earn Pokos. Additionally, Beastly Caverns is the only level to have pellets, which will only create more Pikmin and not earn Pokos. Regardless of level, all fruits and treasures are taken to the SPERO to be converted to Pokos. The player's score is based on how many total Pokos were earned. Collecting all objects that can be converted to money in the stage instantly finishes the mission, and the time left is awarded to the player as extra points (30 points per second remaining).
The objective of this mode is to defeat enemies to score points. Each enemy type is worth a certain amount of points; for example, the Swooping Snitchbug holds 30 points. Only a few Pikmin are available on the map, and the player must bring back enemies to the Onion in order to increase their Pikmin army. As such, the player needs a careful balance between combat and reinforcements to be efficient. The enemy's score is instantly added to the score counter the second the enemy dies. Once the timer is up, the points the player gains are counted as their score, but if all enemies are killed, the mission ends right away and the player receives extra points based on the time left.
Missions in this mode require the player to defeat one of the main bosses in the story mode, with a given assortment of Pikmin and time limit. To fight a boss in this mode, it must be defeated in story mode first. The player's medal is determined by the time left over. The Pikmin death count has nothing to do with scoring, but is still shown on the results screen.
These are the 36 stages in Mission Mode, counting the ones available as downloadable content. Tropical Forest Remix, Tropical Wilds Remix, and Fortress of Festivity are only added to the game, for free, if the game is updated.
All levels in Mission Mode support 2-player split-screen co-op. For the missions that aren't downloadable content, the previous mission must be beat before the next one can be unlocked. This is not the case with the boss missions, which require the player to have beaten the boss in story mode first (regardless of collecting its spoils).
Before starting a stage, it is possible to choose a single-player or 2-player mode. Unlike in Pikmin 2, player 1 is on the right, while player 2 is on the left. With this, player 1 starts as Alph, and player 2 starts as Brittany or Olimar, depending on the stage. If the level has more than two leaders available, either player can switch to the leader that is not being used. Just like in Pikmin 2's co-op challenge mode, players share sprays, and each spray used is deducted for both players. In other words, whenever a spray is used, it'll be depleted on the counter of both players' screens. Co-op missions have a separate ranking system from the single player version of the mission. It should be noted that the "Go Here!" function will not work in co-op.
There are five essential rankings for each stage: No ranking, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. No ranking simply means that the player did not earn enough points to earn a medal. The criteria for getting medals is different for each game mode, with the points differing every stage. Platinum medals mean that the player has collected all treasure or defeated all enemies before the time limit. Any time after the Platinum medal is acquired will be added as a time bonus to the original score, 30 additional points per second remaining. For Defeat Bosses!, only the time matters, and the quicker a boss is defeated, the better the medal; if it is defeated too late, the player might not receive any medal.
The game keeps track of the five best scores. These scores are only accessible on the results screen at the end of a successful mission, but the top score is available on the screen before the mission begins.
Each medal has a different look based on their ranking and the game mode. The loading screen tips state that each medal gives the player an honorary title. These titles do not change anything in the game. In the score tally screen, when a medal is obtained, a Pikmin can also be heard cheering the player. While hard to understand due to the Pikmin's voice, when slowed down, the different voice clips can be figured out. The following table illustrates the medals for all rankings, as well as the title given by the tips and the cheers said by the Pikmin.
The medals are visible on the screen with the mission's briefings. A second medal appears if the challenge was completed in co-op mode. The platinum medals also have the Koppaite text on them, which means "Pikmin platinum".
The fanfare that plays when the player acquires a platinum medal or successfully defeats a boss:
On October 1st, 2013 – during that month's Nintendo Direct – Iwata announced downloadable content for Pikmin 3's Mission Mode. These stages are for Collect Treasure! mode, and Nintendo offers Tropical Forest Remix for free if players update Pikmin 3.
On November 6th, 2013, a second DLC pack was made available for purchase. This DLC consists of five remixed Story mode maps for Battle Enemies! Nintendo offers Tropical Wilds Remix for free if players update Pikmin 3.
On December 2nd, 2013, a third DLC pack became available for purchase. This consists of five stages for Collect Treasure! and Battle Enemies! (totaling in ten levels) and takes place on entirely new areas. Olimar and Louie are playable in stages 13 through 15, but Louie must be rescued before he can be used. Nintendo offers both versions of Fortress of Festivity for free for those who update Pikmin 3.
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