Nintendo / Arzest
Hey! Pikmin is not the sequel fans of the main series have been waiting for.
It’s not the new Pikmin game that Shigeru Miyamoto said just last month was still in development.
This is not Pikmin 4. But I’m completely fine with that. Because I really like what it actually is.
Its plot is familiar, at least. Captain Olimar, returning home for some much-needed time off work, crashes his new ship the S.S. Dolphin 2 and once again finds himself on a planet inhabited by Pikmin.
The ship’s fuel supply, powered by Sparklium, is completely empty, so it’s up to Olimar to explore the planet, aided by the Pikmin, to find seeds and items that can be harvested for Sparklium.
If he can collect 30,000 Sparklium in total, he can repair and refuel the ship and get back home to spend time with his children (where he’ll no doubt be ignored by them as they sit there with their fidget spinners or whatever it is kids are into these days).
“Exploring a strange planet and using Pikmin to retrieve items for you? Sounds like any other Pikmin game to me Chris,” I her (well, imagine) you say. “Stop building up mystique for no reason, you fucking fraud.”
Well, you see, the difference here is that Hey! Pikmin is actually a 2D platformer, as opposed to the top-down free-roaming adventure games the previous three Pikmin titles were on GameCube and Wii U.
It’s not a complete about-turn for the series, mind. While the switch from 3D to 2D is a drastic one visually, many of the elements that make Pikmin what it is are still present here.
You’re still flinging Pikmin at hard-to-reach items and getting them to carry said items over. And any time you approach an enemy, you still kill them by flinging Pikmin at them until they keel over and peg it.
Each colour of Pikmin still has their own traits too. Red ones are still resistant to fire, yellow ones can still be thrown further than any others, Rock Pikmin are still hard enough to smash through crystals, and so forth.
Despite these similarities though, the new 2D perspective gives the game a different feel to its predecessors.
Instead of freely roaming around large areas while keeping your eye on the clock to ensure you get back to your ship before night, here you’re placed in a series of linear 2D stages with no time constraints to worry about.
It makes for a game that’s less complicated, less stressful and – crucially – far less difficult.
If you’re a fan of the previous Pikmin games and got a kick out of their tension, and the guilt you felt every time you accidentally led them down the wrong path and sent loads of the wee fellas to their doom, I hope you’re good at clinging to memories because that won’t happen too often here.
Instead the Pikmin act more like advanced versions of the eggs that follow behind you in a Yoshi’s Island game (perhaps unsurprising, because developer Arzest previously made the slightly shite Yoshi’s New Island on 3DS). You use the stylus to bring up a cursor, then let go to fling them where you want.
There’s also not as much fear of losing them, because levels are fairly short and if you fuck up you can just restart the stage to try again with all the Pikmin on that stage resurrected and waiting in place.
It’s not all bad news, mind. You do still feel for the Pikmin a wee bit, partly thanks to the little cut-scenes that trigger every time you approach a bunch of them (don’t worry, you can skip them when you replay a stage).
These scenes are well-animated and regularly raise a smile, so it’s not like the switch to side-scrolling has also resulted in a complete loss of charm.
This charm extends to the relics you can retrieve and send back to your ship for analysis and precious Sparklium. Just like in the main Pikmin games, you can find a bunch of real-world items ‘hidden’ in each level (I say hidden, but they’re all pretty easy to find).
Later, you can check your log, where Olimar writes an analysis of every item you find, most of which are brilliantly funny. His conclusion that an old flip-top mobile phone is actually a special “beach chair designed to help people stay in communication with their bosses” is great.
They’re actually so well written, it’s these reports – and not the actual challenge of finding them – that encourage you to get full 100% completion and beat the game with all 125 items.
They’re also a large part of the game’s amiibo support, which I actually reckon is the best in any Nintendo game to date. Every single amiibo from the Mario, Splatoon and Animal Crossing series generates a unique single-screen puzzle stage, where that amiibo appears as a special item to collect.
That means, if you have them all, there’s a total of 41 extra mini-stages to unlock, each with their own amiibo trophy and, even better, their own comedy description in your log once you get them.
And yes, that means every single Mario, Splatoon and Animal Crossing one, which means that Mabel amiibo you bought on a whim and instantly regretted finally has a purpose.
On the other hand, it also means I finally have to bloody buy Daisy after all, even though Daisy’s a wank.
Hey! Pikmin is harmless fun. It’s not really challenging at any point (unless you want to try and complete every stage perfectly with all Pikmin intact), and stressful moments are rarer than LGBTQ Donald Trump voters.
If you go in expecting not a Pikmin game, but something more similar to a Yoshi’s Island or a Kirby title, where charm takes more of a central role than difficulty, then you may get a kick out of it.
This will never be anyone’s favourite Pikmin game. But as a fun and relaxing diversion, I had a good time. I suppose you could say it gets Olimar respect for that.
No, I’m not sorry.
Hey! Pikmin is out now, priced £29.99 / $39.99 on the 3DS eShop. You can also buy the physical version from Amazon UK.
In order that I could write this review, I received a free copy of the game from a PR. The content of my review and the opinions therein were in no way positively influenced by this.
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