After a decade of anticipation, the long-awaited sequel to Pikmin 3 is finally here, and I couldn't be happier. Now, we can all relax and embark on another fantastic journey with our beloved cute and adorable plant minions. While Pikmin 4's predecessors might not have hit the mark, it's completely understandable if you've been out of the loop. But fear not, for this new installment promises to recapture the magic and deliver an unforgettable experience.
The original Pikmin game was released on the GameCube, a solid invention that unfortunately didn't receive the appreciation it deserved. Its sequel arrived on the Wii U, but sadly, the console didn't enjoy the thriving popularity among gaming enthusiasts. Thankfully, Pikmin 3 had a chance to shine by being released on the Nintendo Switch, a blockbuster console with a much larger audience.
Yet, the game didn’t reach the kind of worldwide recognition I feel this game is capable of. Enter Pikmin 4, a game I feel has overwhelming potential to turn the tide on the franchise’s success for years to come.
First, stepping into the world might render you speechless from the drastic change to a colorful, vibrant, and intricately designed backyard. Gameplay has slapped onto it a much-needed makeover, with a sore seamless and smooth control system you can relish all day. And, there’s so much to do in Pikmin 4, double the treasure, double the fun, it’s doubtful you’d let on even a wink of sleep during the playthrough.
It’s a bigger, better, and busier game than ever before. But don’t take my word for it. Come along to our Pikmin 4 review for a deeper dive into what exactly the newest RTS in town entails.
Catching Up to Speed
Pikmin games often thrust you into an expansive, peculiar world. They bestow on you the power to plant small plantlike creatures with distinct skills that you can pluck out of the ground and command to do your bidding. They can break down obstacles, carry heavy stuff for you, and battle enemies you run into. These creatures are the Pikmin, with their cute beady eyes, their tiny elongated bodies, and a leaf sprouting from their heads.
In Pikmin 4, Captain Olimar, a humanoid alien the size of a paper clip, has crash landed into what’s most definitely someone’s backyard. His miniature spaceship has broken down into parts spread out all across the garden. He needs his ship restored to full health to get back home, so you call upon the Pikmin to scout the lands and gather the parts for you.
It serves as a tutorial, learning how to whistle your troop to do your bidding. There are different types of Pikmin, so learning each of their skills and how to apply them comes in handy to complete the objectives. The ice Pikmin are frosty, so you use them to freeze enemies or water for you to cross through. Red Pikmin are fiery, so they take down enemies with fire-based elemental powers.
The strong purple Pikmin, the poisonous white Pikmin, the speedy winged Pikmin, or the yellow Pikmin perfect for digging and fighting enemies with electricity-based powers. Some are old, others new. The sooner you can learn their use cases, the better.
Oh Wait, There’s More
Captain Olimar soon realizes he may need the rescue team to whisk him away back home. So, he sends out a stress signal, and the rescue team responds. However, in true Pikmin fashion, they also crash into the backyard, the team’s people scattered across the garden. There’s probably something fishy going on with Earth’s orifice, but moving on.
For the first time ever, the player can customize their character, a rookie rescue astronaut tasked with searching for his team, helping Captain Olimar get home, and collecting the treasure they would need to reboot the ship. First things first, you pick out the name and appearance you prefer, eyebrows, hair style, body type, hair color, suit color…etc. It’s not the most in-depth customization set, but it will do. Then, venture into the world and meet your minions.
At first, it can get confusing. This is clearly a much more vast world than you can possibly imagine. It’s a garden, sure, but in your eyes, a paper clip-sized humanoid whose surroundings towers over him seems way too huge. The camera is above ground, pointing down, letting you look up at the plants, mounds of dirt, and anything you can imagine a garden may have.
Take a closer look around, and you’ll see some Pikmin memorabilia, including a Cobalt Game Boy Advance SP. You may want to command your Pikmin to pick it up, and it’ll come in handy restoring the ship. There are many more treasures to scout for, like giant fossil remains, unfinished statues, a space spinner, and hundreds of treasures that’ll keep you busy most of the time.
A Puzzle A Day…
You’ll solve puzzles, too. Often, they test your strategic play with mazes. Some returning features, like explorable caves, are brimming with charming puzzles. Remember the diverse Pikmin? Those create satisfying and challenging puzzles, too, when trying to figure out which Pikmin to toss at an enemy or which ones are better off doing something else, like building bridges or carrying treasures back to base.
On the Frontlines
The best part of playing Pikmin 4, in my opinion, is fighting the enemies. Some are new; others are old. While these are indigenous species, they don’t get along with Pikmin. So, if you want to get ahead of ticking off your day’s objectives, then you may have to fight them.
Granted, tossing Pikmin at some enemies will send them to their doom. It actually does take its toll when they continually die, even when you can always plant and pluck new ones to replenish your supply. Or, use the new feature to rewind time to play out a new strategy.
Still, having them die means you actually have to put some thought process into your RTS skills. Or better yet, find ways to take flight before you lose. One strategy that works is to study an enemy’s strengths and weaknesses and use them to your advantage.
You can also use your canine companion, Oatchi, another new addition to the series, who not only attacks enemies but also gains upgraded skills as you proceed further into the game. His best feature yet is his ability to carry treasure alongside Pikmin and you! This allows you to scale the vast grounds much faster, get across areas you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get through, like wading through water, and generally keep your party troop together.
Dusk ‘Till Dawn
So far, there’s plenty of gameplay to go around. Yet, Pikmin 4 doesn’t stop there. When night falls, a new type of Pikmin comes out to play called “Glow.” They have a bright green bioluminescent floating eerie body and, strictly, only reveal themselves at night or in caves.
They introduce a new tower defense game mode, where you’ll need to defend “Luminknolls” against nocturnal intruders. It goes on from dusk ‘till dawn, with only the Glow Pikmin to help you.
Nope, Still Not All
If at all you get bored, which I highly doubt you will, there’s another game mode you can access from the Story Mode, although it plays more like an alternative mode. It’s called Dandori, named after the Japanese way of “organizing tasks strategically and working effectively to execute plans.”
There are two types of games within Dandori: Challenges and Battles. They are both special caves that allow you to compete against the CPU or another player. The first task is gathering the most treasures faster than the opponent. While the second asks you to defeat enemies while gathering a set number of treasures. Unlike the normal game mode, Dandori minigames have a time limit, which further adds to their intense spike in difficulty.
A Little Something Extra
As the stranded travelers await your rescue, it’s best to heed their call quicker because they also lend a hand in your playthrough. Take Dr. Yonny, for example. He can unlock new night-time ventures for you. Or, Russ, the scientist. He can cook up technological gadgets and weapons like protective gear or bombs.
So, even though Pikmin exerts no pressure at all on how fast you should complete the objectives on hand. You can choose to chase a butterfly till the night falls, and no one will question your life choices. It’s nice to have special incentives that keep you going.
There are plenty of moving parts in Pikmin 4. But they all have been greased and double-checked to make sure they run smoothly without a fault. Right off the bat, you’re greeted by an incredibly beautiful world whose colors easily pop off the screen. Getting used to the new mechanics doesn’t take long, with the auto-aim feature helping to ease things up some more.
There are nearly countless things to do that, at no point, ever start to grow on you. In fact, many have called Pikmin 4 a relaxing, stress-free adventure to come home to, and I must say, I totally agree.
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Pikmin 4 Review (Switch)
A Relaxing, Beautiful, Must-Play Experience
If you have had a long day, Pikmin 4 is perfect for unwinding, relaxing, and letting the fun have its way. There are barely any cons to speak of. Well, except that it may feel too easy, but that is part of its charm to simply experience a stress-free game in a vibrant, charming world.