- Developer: Nintendo
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release Date: 30/10/2020
- Price: £49.99 / $59.99
- Review code provided by Nintendo UK
Introducing – Pikmin 3 Deluxe Review
When I played Pikmin 3 on the Wii U, my only complaint was that I wanted to play more, but there simply wasn’t enough content. It’s also the kind of game that’s difficult to get others into, despite how charming it is. Pikmin 3 Deluxe sets out to right all of that and more. Stunning environments return alongside increased accessibility and challenge to keep players of all skill levels hooked.
O Captain! My Captain!
We follow three explorers who crash-land on planet PNF-404 on their mission to find food for their home world. The rough start leaves them separated, and we must employ the help of some friendly locals to reunite the crew and find the Cosmic Drive Key that allows them to fly home. The story mode, as I mentioned, doesn’t last long, but it’s a joyful ride – and as we’ll discuss later, there’s now ample reason to replay the main game at least once.
The mysterious Pikmin are happy to be flung about by engineer Alph, botanist Brittaniy, and captain Charlie (each of whom I just want to hug, they’re so loveable.) Whistling with ‘B’ draws in an expandable area of pikmin, while ‘A’ flings them in the direction of your cursor, and ‘X’ to send them all in a charge. The actions come with satisfying, if repetitive, sound effects.
There are several kinds of Pikmin with various strengths and weaknesses, including heavy-hitting Rock Pikmin and versatile Winged Pikmin which were introduced in Pikmin 3. Using them cleverly to carry items, break barriers, and dispatch enemies is the key to success.
At night, these predators swarm the surface, so the crew takes off in their ship – sadly abandoning any Pikmin who may have gotten separated from the crew or safe areas. A day meter constantly shows at the top of the screen, and there is a handy button that calls all stray pikmin back to the ship. Inconsistent pathfinding unfortunately makes it so that, if you aren’t careful, far-flung little guys may end up stuck in a corner somewhere.
With three people in your team, you must multitask to make the most of each day cycle. This is a cinch using the Wii U gamepad – you can set characters to go to certain parts of the map, ensuring that no Pikmin is idle. Now, on the Switch, the map is relegated to the “-” button, which doesn’t feel nearly as smooth, but it serves its purpose.
Playing in co-op nearly erases that issue. With a second controller or Joy-Con, someone else can help you delegate work and plan efficient routes through maps. The only time that it can get tricky is when encountering cutscenes: the game will sometimes “take” all of the Pikmin from one player in the room and give them all to the one who encountered the scene. Overall, though, playing in co-op enhanced my enjoyment of the game.
Split-screen fun doesn’t stop in story mode. Completionists can go for separate platinum medals as both a solo and team player in Mission mode, where you’re completing timed challenges. The Side Stories, which follow Captain Olimar and Louie of previous titles, can also be played with a pal.
Of course, Bingo Battle is not to be forgotten: this mode pits you against Player 2 as you try to fill out a bingo card of items and enemies — any of which can be stolen by your rival. It’s the perfect amount of hectic and competitive to balance out this serene experience.
Every Rose Has its Thorns
I say “serene” because of the indisputably gorgeous nature and tinkling tunes in each level, but you’ll still find yourself clenching the controller on the edge of your seat. The gargantuan story mode bosses are no joke; defeating them while also budgeting in time to have dozens of Pikmin carry their massive corpse to the ship is a challenge in itself. Mission Mode and Ultra-Spicy difficulty will stretch your strategic skills to the limit.
The Ultra-Spicy difficulty is unlocked after beating the demo or completing Hard mode. Days are very short, enemies are stronger, fruit doesn’t yield as much juice for your team to survive on, and worst of all – only 60 Pikmin are allowed on the field at once, as opposed to 100. This is a massive challenge in later levels, and a great way for skilled players to re-experience the story in a new light, with ample challenge.
If much of the above sounded like a dream to hardcore completionists, that’s because it absolutely is. Four story difficulties (with tracked statistics like how many Pikmin perished,) thirty kinds of fruit, challenge arenas, and two side stories make for hours of Pikmin-flinging practice. There is even an achievement list to fill out!
Blasting Off Again
For those who slept on Pikmin 3 or didn’t have a Wii U, this is an absolute must-play – even if that means jumping on the couch with a friend and playing through the story on their Switch. Beware, though, because the Pikmin bug is real, and before you know it, you’ll be buying it yourself to grind for achievements and sweat over Ultra-Spicy difficulty.
Those like myself who played the original game shouldn’t turn their nose up at Pikmin 3 Deluxe. The additional content and co-op support extend this game’s shelf life almost indefinitely, turning it from a cult sensation to a lasting go-to. And, I mean, just look at these cute Pikmin – how can you say no to those teeny-weeny faces? They sure can’t say no to you!
- Appeals to range of skill levels
- Seamless co-op in various modes
- Picturesque environments
- Pikmin trackfinding issues
- Minor co-op inconveniences
Where the original game was beautiful but short, Pikmin 3 Deluxe offers heightened challenge and co-op support, turning it into a longer-lasting experience that’s more approachable to all skill levels.