We enjoyed playing Pikmin 3 when it was released on the Wii U back in 2013 so we delighted to hear that Pikmin 3 Deluxe was coming to the Nintendo Switch. Pikmin 3 Deluxe is a wonderful blend of cuteness and beauty, a mix of real-time strategy, puzzle and adventure action with the type of polish that Nintendo is well-known for.
The game sees three explorers, Alph, Brittany and Charlie, setting out on a mission to get new types of food for their famished home planet. They crash land on planet PNF-404 which is inhabited by strange creatures and plant-like Pikmin. The cute Pikmin are happy to follow you and do what you tell them to, and you must now work together with the Pikmin to complete your mission by collecting food and repairing your broken ship. Finding your fellow astronauts, collecting fruit and getting home will still be a challenge, but with the various abilities of the Pikmin it just might be possible.
Stepping into the shoes of the explorers, the player must command the Pikmin to overcome obstacles, defeat creatures and collect food. There are five different kinds of Pikmin, each with different abilities, that you will need to use strategically in the game. You control the explorers directly, but you can also control the Pikmin you have by either whistling to call them to you or throwing them at objects in the world. Depending on the Pikmin and the object they will engage in different ways – Red Pikmin are fiercer in battle and resistant to fire, while Rock Pikmin are heavier and their hard bodies can be used to do damage. My children delighted in unlocking the different Pikmin including Yellow Pikmin who aren’t phased by electricity, Winged Pikmin who can fly and Blue Pikmin who can survive underwater.
The Pikmin can be directed to pick up the fruit and enemy carcasses and they will take them back to base to be consumed. If you send the right type of Pikmin against the right type of wall they will bash it down, and they can also collect and carry stones to build bridges. Just watching them do it all is entertaining in itself because of the animation of one hundred little creatures, but a lot of the fun is in exploring this world that is both intriguing and dangerous.
The story mode is well paced. You can focus on the story itself and do what the characters are directing you to do and explore a particular area, or you can take your time and try to find all the fruit scattered through the areas. Sometimes it’s clear that you will need to return once you have more abilities or more types of Pikmin because you can see fruit in impossible-to-reach spots. The story goals are what unlock these new abilities and mechanics at regular intervals so the gameplay remains interesting.
Exploration is given a bit of urgency by the way the game is divided into days – each day being about 15 minutes of game time. You have to think a bit about what you want to do as you start the day because you can’t accomplish much more than exploring a certain area. This mechanic is perfectly balanced – there is enough time to accomplish things in the day but not long enough that you have time to spend frivolously. Pikmin 3 Deluxe is not difficult but always feels like a challenge because of the way you’re looking in new places trying to find the way through, figuring out how to effectively fight each enemy, or simply trying to get all your Pikmin home again safely before the scary night creatures come. We had more than a few tears from the kids as the Pikmin left behind were gobbled up.
There is so much character and colour in Pikmin 3 Deluxe. Once you’ve completed the story mode you can still go on to collect all fruit and data entries as well as do the mission mode which has many challenges to complete, or you can try the multiplayer mode.
The new game includes a variety of difficulty settings, lock-on targeting and optional hints, as well as the choice to play at a more relaxed pace, making it accessible to new gamers. There is also an Ultra-Spicy mode should you wish to be challenged. There are new side-story missions featuring Olimar and Louie, the ability to play Story mode with a friend and all the downloadable content stages from the original release. There are also head-to-head multiplayer Bingo Battles and online leaderboards for Mission Mode.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is available for the Nintendo Switch for a recommended retail price of R1129. There is a free demo available on the Nintendo eShop which lets you experience both story and mission modes solo or with a friend. Even better news is that your progress can be carried over into the full game when you purchase it.
Thanks to Nintendo South Africa for letting us explore Pikmin 3 Deluxe.