Pikmin 3 Deluxe Review
It’s 2020 and that means aliens are going to invade about any second now. If those aliens are half as useful as the Pikmin, it’ll be a good day for our planet.
The little blighters are happy to be tossed into walls, chucked at enemies, fed whatever yellowish goop happens to be lying around… On second thoughts, maybe this isn’t such a great idea.
A better idea was Nintendo porting Pikmin 3 from the Wii U to the Switch. The former console, now long dead, has a treasure trove of great games that deserve fresh life. Is it worth a second visit to PNF-404?
Return to the Pikmin Planet
Pikmin is a great family game, deceptively simple to master and with plenty to see and do. That has always been true, and with the return of Pikmin 3 on Switch, it’s great to see that legacy continue.
Firstly, this is so obviously a Nintendo game that I’m surprised the little creatures you find aren’t just called Nintendoids. Every piece of dialogue, every character model, every sound is straight out of the Nintendo catalogue. That, of course, isn’t a bad thing.
You explore the planet, using various types of Pikmin to get around certain sorts of problems. For instance, if there’s a block of ice in your way, you can smash it with your rock Pikmin. Lights can be turned on with your yellow Pikmin. And so on and so forth.
You can have up to 100 of these little creatures on the go at one time, but they won’t always be following you around. They might be doing chores, reaching fruit or attacking enemies and taking their dead corpses back to the ship to create more Pikmin. Nature is wonderful, isn’t it?
This is spread over 10-15 hours, with you having to take on different environments and boss creatures. And yes, the bosses feel right out of Zelda.
The basic gameplay loop is fun, easy to get into and has very little pressure to it. The stakes don’t feel paticularly high. I mean that in a positive way, because it means exploring at your own pace is fine. There’s a time limit, with each day ending with a return to your space ship, but you can soon continue with no issues.
Pikmin with Pals
The most important feature of this redux is the addition of two-player co-op. This wasn’t in the original game and, because each player can have their own single Joy-con, is basically built in on a console level.
Any game is improved by the ability to play with friends, although there are a few caveats. There are moves – like dodging – that just aren’t possible when playing with the Joy-con in that fashion. The game does a really good job of bigging up the idea of dodging before saying “oh, by the way…”
But that’s a small price to pay for the ability to play with my wife, or for parents to play with their children. It can be a bit finicky at times, but actually improves the experience a lot.
Other additional features include a few additional chapters, a new difficulty mode and some in-game achievements. These are nice additions – the least I’d expect from a re-release, quite frankly – but not as revolutionary as the co-op.
There’s no online co-op, which given Nintendo’s servers is probably a blessing. But I can see some gamers feeling left out, similarly to Battletoads a few months ago. Personally, I think there are some games that are better played with your mate sitting next to you, and that’s how they should be played, but mileage on that will obviously vary.
Divide and Conquer
So, you crash land on PNF-404 and instantly start trashing the place. Animals are killed, fruit is plucked, monuments are stolen or trashed. You start turning local wildlife into a kind of willing slave army, and decimate their home planet even more.
I’m sure trendier gaming sites would read something into that, but here at GamesReviews, we’re all about ignoring that tasty subtext. Instead, I’ll just say this: Pikmin is really good fun.
It has a pedestrian pace, interrupted too frequently by a story barely worth mentioning, and that will be annoying to some. This isn’t a game to play when Doom Eternal starts to feel to casual to you, and that’s okay.
For all you can say about Nintendo and their target audience, this is one of the first times where I’ve felt it’s actually aimed at children. Most Nintendo franchises walk that child-friendly line really well, but Pikmin 3 is exceedingly gentle.
It’s also fairly repetitive. Granted, you get new Pikmin and must solve new levels, but that’s not so transformative that someone who hates it 10 minutes in will suddenly fall in love.
It proudly is what it is. No gimmicks, no front – no problem.
Graphics and Sound
Well, maybe one problem.
I have to say, in motion, the graphics don’t look nearly as bad as they do in the official Nintendo screens accompanying this review.
I’ve been playing almost exclusively docked, and even in splitscreen co-op the graphics aren’t so awful that you can’t keep playing.
This is a port of a Wii U game on the least powerful current gen console, released just over a week before the Series X makes its debut. Yes, it’s underwhelming, but it’s not by any stretch of the imagination bad. The art design is top notch, and I can’t say I noticed any visible slowdown even with loads going on. Like, for instance, 100 Pikmin butchering some giant bug monster. That’s pretty impressive.
Audio-wise, this is a Nintendo game through and through. The music is light and inoffensive, and the Pikmin sound like Yoshi. It works, which is enough to get it a pass by me.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe Review – Conclusion
If you fancy a gentle but entertaining return to PNF-404, this is a great port. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you missed it on Wii U.
Pikmin 3 retains the franchise’s exploration-focussed gameplay, all while adding a few new twists to the familiar puzzles.
But it’s not Zelda, and it’s not Mario. It just looks and sounds a bit like them. It’s a difficult game to recommend to a hardcore gamer who isn’t already totally into it.
The addition of co-op makes it a great purchase for families and couples who want some fun gaming time.
Because that’s what Pikmin 3 is. It’s relaxing, it’s fun and really it shouldn’t be anything else.