The power of Pikmin
For all 40 years of my life, I’ve pretty much eaten whatever I wanted. I never really worried about calories, fat, carbs, or anything like that. In the back of my head I always knew those things were important, but I never thought about them enough to be concerned. I figured watching my weight would be just one more thing to worry about, and I already had enough on my plate (pun very much intended).
As I grew older, the idea of living a more healthy lifestyle started to creep into my head. Instead of eating what I wanted all the time, I started pondering a life where I paid a bit more attention to not only the food I was consuming, but the amount as well. Of course, the idea of cutting back in any way frustrated me, but I felt more and more that it was the right decision.
Fast-forward all the way to March 2021, which is when Pikmin Bloom was announced. From the moment the game’s trailer debuted, I knew I’d soon be making a big change in my life. I had kept thinking about bettering my diet and getting exercise, but continued to find reasons to push things off. When I saw Pikmin Bloom’s reveal, I made a promise to myself. The day that app launched in North America would mark the start of my new approach to health and well-being.
Pikmin Bloom launched in North America on October 28th, 2021, and I downloaded it the very instant it was released. We’re now at the 6 month anniversary of the game launching, and I have used the app every single day since. No, that’s not a joke or embellishment. From Pikmin Bloom launch day to now, I have not only been following a new diet, but also walked at least an hour every single day. With half a year under my belt (and considerably less fat), I can honestly say Pikmin Bloom has made my life better in a multitude of ways.
To be completely honest, before Pikmin Bloom’s launch, I was treating my body extremely poorly. I’ve been straight-edge my entire life, but beyond that, I wasn’t taking good care of myself. I ate anything and everything I wanted, and I spent an insanely large portion of my day sitting at a desk. As you know, GoNintendo has been my day-to-day job for 17+ years now. Those days require double-digit hours spent working on a computer. That meant no walking, running, or really exercise of any kind. Yes, I could have figured out a way to work that into my schedule, but stupidly, I didn’t.
That’s nearly two decades of abuse to my body, and pretty much an entire life of eating with reckless abandon. Again, as time passed by, I recognized more and more how I needed to change things. It might seem silly that the release of a video game was the impetus for my lifestyle change, but it truly was. I needed something to lock in as my kick-off to better health, plus it was a game I was interested in. Not only did I want to check out the app due to its Pikmin ties, I figured I could also work it into coverage for GoNintendo. Sure, there was a little bit of fooling myself involved to get the routine going, but any excuse I had to make was worth it to change my way of living.
While I was excited for Pikmin Bloom from the get-go, I didn’t realize how perfect it would be for me. Pikmin Bloom doesn’t talk at all about exercise or anything like that, even though the only way to “play” the game is by exercising. If you’re going to use the app as intended, you’ll have to walk or run your way to success. The subtle approach to exercise is exactly what I need, as it keeps my mind occupied while I’m putting in the time walking. Again, it may sound dumb, but there’s something in my brain that lets me tolerate exercise when a game is involved, especially when that game doesn’t really mention exercise at all.
Perhaps I can put it another way. I think Ring Fit Adventure is an absolutely amazing experience, and you can burn some serious calories keeping up with it. The thing is, for my strange brain, getting myself into the routine of Ring Fit Adventure goes from feeling fun to an unbearable chore within a month’s time. That is very much a me problem, and I completely recognize that. Ring Fit Adventure has worked wonders for millions, but the way my brain operates keeps me from truly getting into it.
I guess you could say I’m much more into the passive exercise experience, but I need some sort of incentive or motivation to do it. As sad as it is, body health isn’t enough of a motivation or reason for me. That’s a terrible and equally embarrassing thing to say, but it’s who I am. When I go out on my daily walks with Pikmin Bloom, I very much know I’m getting exercise and helping my body. That’s not what really matters to me, though. I’m out there walking because I appreciate the Pikmin Bloom experience, and it gives me a little something to enjoy every day. That’s why I keep heading out there every 7 days a week, rain or shine.
Pikmin Bloom is about as passive as passive gets, and I mean that as a compliment. Niantic’s other mobile offering, Pokemon GO, is very much an interactive experience. You’re out there catching Pokemon, scoping out specific hotspots, tackling Raid bosses, and so on. If you want to get the most out of Pokemon GO, you have to stay on top of a litany of things and actively play the game. Pikmin Bloom is very much the opposite of that, and it’s almost there as nothing more than a compliment to your exercise regimen.
With Pikmin Bloom, all you have to do is walk. While there are reasons to look at your phone while out and about, you don’t have to. You could fire up the app, put your phone in your pocket, and take a peek at the end of the day to see what happened. As you’re going through your day, Pikmin Bloom will give you seedlings to collect, Pikmin to grow, fruit to gather, and so on. None of this needs to be attended to in the moment. You can take care of all that content whenever you please, which makes the game that much more attractive to me.
Pretty much everything in the game is fueled by walking. Do you want to grow a seedling and add a Pikmin to your collection? You’ll have to walk 3,000 steps. Want to take on an expedition to smash up a mushroom and collect fruit and presents? You’ll have to traverse your real-life neighborhood to find them. Want to plant some flowers in the virtual representation of your town? Turn on the flower planter and leave a trail of blossoming plants behind you. All this and more can happen in Pikmin Bloom, and the only thing you have to do is walk.
Truth be told, Pikmin Bloom could be played even more passively than I’m handling it, but I’ve found a nice routine to get into. Now that I’ve maxed out my Pikmin count, I work towards leveling up. Leveling up requires planting flowers, collecting seedlings, completing expeditions, and so on. Whatever the next level goals are, I make sure I’m prepared for them before I start my walk. If I need to grow 19k flowers, I feed my Pikmin, pluck their flowers, and add them to the planter for my trek. If there are a certain amount of expeditions required to level up, I just walk my town and see what pops up along the way. I never have to go out of my way or stray from my daily path to get what I need. Even every level goal requires walking, which is yet another reason why I’m motivated to get out there and keep my routine going.
Yes, I know I’ll eventually hit a level cap and won’t have daily goals to strive for anymore, but that’s where the charm of Pikmin Bloom will fuel me. I am 110% sure I’ll keep up with Pikmin Bloom at that point simply because it’s such a lovely experience. Seeing Pikmin head out to real-life locations and snap photos from points of interest is always entertaining. Taking AR pictures with my Pikmin crew never gets old. Dropping in each day to see what fruit my Pikmin have collected, and then turning that fruit into flowers for the neighborhood feels like I’m really doing something. I realize these are arbitrary goals that don’t actually mean anything in the real world, but they honestly make me happy, and it’s all keeping me active.
The same goes for the game’s Community Day events. Again, just like everything else in Pikmin Bloom, the main goal on Community Day involves walking. Each Community Day asks you to reach 10k steps within 24 hours. If you manage to achieve that goal, Pikmin Bloom awards you with a Community Day badge specific to that Community Day. While I would love to have real-life versions of these badges, I have to say that I really do love seeing my badge collection in-game. These virtual badges represent the hard work I put in that day, as well as my commitment to keeping my Pikmin Bloom/exercise regimen going. Each Community Day badge I add to my virtual collection makes me smile that much more.
Taking Pikmin on virtual walks and collecting make-believe badges is a joy, but my absolute favorite part of Pikmin Bloom comes at the end of the day. Every single day at 9:08 PM, Pikmin Bloom sends out a daily recap of your adventure. It shows you the path you walked, the flowers you planted, the steps you took, and so on. Best of all, the Pikmin will bring you a snapshot of something from that day. As long as you took/saved some sort of picture in the last 24 hours, the Pikmin will sneak into your phone and bring it to you. If you’ve taken multiple pictures during that time, you’ll have no idea what they’ll hunt down. I can’t express how much I love seeing whatever picture they come up with. That picture forever becomes a part of my Pikmin Bloom timeline, and I can look back on each one and remember a little piece of that day. I can even scroll through the timeline to see past days/walks for a virtual stroll down memory lane.
All this small, silly stuff that makes up Pikmin Bloom is what’s kept me healthy for the last 6 months. Without this game, I honestly don’t know if I would have started exercising and eating better. I’ve thought about the idea a few times in the past, but I never went through with it. Pikmin Bloom has facilitated this journey for me, and it is by far the longest amount of time I’ve ever spent consecutively eating better and exercising. I walk at least 2.5 miles every day, I stay at or below my calorie goal, and I definitely feel better for it. I decided very early on to not weigh myself during this process as I didn’t want to be discouraged by numbers, but there’s no doubt I’ve shed some major pounds. I’m wearing sizes I haven’t worn in decades, and I’m fitting into clothing I never thought possible. That’s all the evidence I need to see to know I’m heading in the right direction.
The physical benefits of Pikmin Bloom are obvious to anyone, but the game has actually given me a much-needed boost on the mental side as well. While I’m not an outdoorsy person at all, it is nice to get away from everything for an hour plus. I unplug from the confines of my office and move out into nature, breathe some fresh air, take in the sights, and just disconnect from nearly all electronics. There’s no TV blaring in the background, no computer humming away, no keyboard clicking and clacking. For that one hour, I’m in a completely different headspace. I get to process my thoughts about whatever’s going on in my life, and work through things that are bothering me. While the mental component of being outside and exercising isn’t anything I ever thought I needed, my time with Pikmin Bloom has made me truly value it.
I’ve taken quite a bit of time to share my thoughts on Pikmin Bloom, but I could sum up everything with a single sentence. Pikmin Bloom has paved the way to a better life for me. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in years, and again, I don’t know that I would have ever taken any of this on without the motivation of Pikmin Bloom. It’s been so surprising to see how this modest app has turned my life upside-down in the best way possible, and it’s something I’ll be forever grateful for.