This season’s big first party release from Nintendo is Pikmin 3 Deluxe, if you’re not counting the extremely fun and creative toy/videogame hybrid that is Mario Kart Home Circuit. Should Switch owners rush out and pick up this expanded re-release of Pikmin 3, originally a Wii U game? Here’s our review.
I’ll start off by saying that this was my first experience with Pikmin 3 – even though I played the first two games I never picked up the third one because of the simple reason that the Wii U never really did it for me. Looking back on that generation there were quite a few nice games, but all of the hands on demos I had for it (back at 2012’s E3, for example) felt too “gimmicky” for my liking. Luckily, many of the better games for the platform (Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta and of course Breath of the Wild) have since been released for the Switch, and now Pikmin 3 joins them.
In Pikmin 3, you control protagonists Alph, Brittany and Charlie as you travel away from your home planet (dubbed Koppai) and end up crash-landing on an alien planet. Using the titular Pikmin creatures and their unique abilities, you then have to harvest the planet (PNF-404) for resources in order to stay alive and eventually take the crashed S.S. Drake back to Koppai, where people are starving due to overuse of the planet’s natural resources.
Unlike your home world, PNF-404 is still a lush planet, so there’s plenty of food, but there are also puzzles to overcome and dangerous creatures to face. Things are especially dangerous at night, so any Pikmin left roaming the level are bound to get gobbled up. There are more than enough Pikmin to keep going, but losing even just a single one of these cute and colorful characters is a sad moment you’ll be keen to avoid.
Pikmin can help you harvest PNF-404 for food, but they come in all kinds of different colors – each one with unique characteristics and/or abilities that make them more or less suitable for specific challenges. This is where the strategic elements of the Pikmin series come into play, because you’ll have to be careful where you send your Pikmin friends – some enemies will breathe fire, so any but the few that are flame-resistant will perish near them.
At night, the odds are stacked against you, and this also creates an element of time management as you have to make sure your Pikmin are back in the safety of the base they sleep in. A single day/night cycle is akin to a level in the sense that you get a report at the end of each day – which centers on the main objective you’re given each day as well as the number of Pikmin you lost along the way. It’s a number you’ll want to keep as low as possible, and even seeing a 1 appear instead of a 0 can be devastating.
Some enemies can fly, and because most of your Pikmin aren’t able to fly you’ll need to make sure they are matched with the pink subspecies that’s actually able to fly and dish out some damage to these enemies. Practice make perfect here, as you get to learn the strengths and abilities of each Pikmin variety through a bit of trial and error, where you lose a few Pikmin along the way that you’ll feel you shouldn’t have lost.
This is ultimately the driving force behind Pikmin 3, because it’s addictive to try and do better for your cute little friends. You’ll find yourself looking carefully at the map you’re about to tackle, thinking about possible strategies, and when you fail you’ll want to do better and come up with an alternative. Pikmin 3 Deluxe also contains a multiplayer co-op mode where you devise and execute these strategies together, which is a definite highlight and a great reason to play the game (again) on the Switch. Levels have some cool designs that allow for real cooperation as you tackle challenges in the terrain together, or open up a pathway while someone else makes sure you’re still stocked up on resources.
The Deluxe version of the game also comes with brand new levels that take place both before and after the main campaign – essentially extending the campaign while also re-introducing characters from previous Pikmin games as a new show of fan service. You can also play mission mode after you’re done with the campaign, and this is another way to play with Pikmin varieties you won’t encounter in the main story.
This new version of Pikmin 3 doesn’t feel like a remaster in the audiovisual sense though. It’s very much the same look and feel that we got in the 2013 original, which is a missed opportunity. And although there’s some new content here, I would have definitely appreciated having a “Pikmin trilogy” package instead of just Pikmin 3, considering this is a full price offering.
If you never played the original on a Wii U, this is a great way to catch up on a really good game. The addition of new content and co-op multiplayer is great, but it’s a costly upgrade for existing/former players of the original game without the first two games and/or some kind of remaster treatment. It’s wonderful game though, and with co-op included it’s a great choice to play together with family members over the holidays.