Join Alph, Charlie and Brittany as they embark on an interstellar adventure to cure their home planet of starvation in Pikmin 3 Deluxe for Nintendo Switch. It’s up to you to control the courageous captains through treacherous terrain, solve puzzles and to battle out-of-this-world bosses with the help of Pikmin, but does the game hold up the second time round when revisiting planet PNF-404? Let’s find out.
The Nintendo Switch ‘Deluxe’ roster is growing and it’s all thanks to an under-performing prior Nintendo system. It’s true the Wii U had an admirable collection of exclusives within its short lifespan; Nintendo showcased its creativity with multiple titles, including Pikmin 3 when it originally released seven years ago. And with the upcoming Super Mario 3D World coming to Switch (yes, I know it’s not technically a Deluxe title), the cream of the crop on Wii U is finding its new home on Nintendo’s hybrid console. Playing these games again, following initial completion after you’ve scoured every corner and collected every item, means there must be a reason to go back. Perhaps it’s nostalgia, or an emotional connection or just because it’s great fun. So, with that said, we’ll be looking at Pikmin 3 Deluxe through a fine lens and critically evaluating what extras you’re getting for your money, what’s changed and, above all else, answering: is it worth it?
As mentioned in my preview, the Pikmin concept was conceived by Mr Miyamoto and his love of the great outdoors. This, mixed with his ability to make anything fun, has led to the creation we have in front of us today. The idea of controlling small animal-plant hybrid creatures called Pikmin to complete tasks and fight bigger, nastier creatures is one the fanbase has lapped up since its origins. Frustratingly, though, the franchise is yet to see any more news about the fourth instalment since Mr Miymoto stated it was in development in 2017, and subsequently saying it’s still being made in 2020, hasn’t helped matters. Fans are hungrier for Pikmin than the Koppaites are for sustenance.
Though Pikmin 4 might be some way off, Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the best Pikmin title you can play right now. It takes all the best attributes from its predecessors, packages everything up tightly and, in this version specifically, the extra content added is the icing on the cake with not one but two standout features: co-op mode and Side Stories. There are a bunch of quality of life improvements, too, but a couple of main additions will be the real cause for excitement for both newcomers and veterans alike. Not only can you play every level with a friend in split-screen co-op, but you can also enjoy the extra story missions that follow Olimar’s and Louie’s whereabouts before and after the main missions too. It’s strictly couch co-op play here, though. Having an online co-op mode would have been welcomed, but with the split screen local play allowing you to look at what your friend is up to and where they are in the map is useful. Still, the option to have a comrade see the story from start to finish alongside you is delightful, and having an extra body comes with many benefits.
With the help of a second player, splitting, carefully ordering and utilising each colour variation of Pikmin is paramount to your success and, in doing so, you’ll be awarded shinier accolades in the Missions DLC that comes packed in. Working together, communicating, playing to your strengths (for example, I was better with the blue Pikmin while my partner opted for control of the rock Pikmin) makes me think that the title was made for co-op play. The single-player campaign has never been about an in-depth story, extravagant love interests or heartfelt drama; however, having an aide assist with tasks makes all the difference – and it’s noticeably more entertaining. The eight-or-so hour single-player story mode may seem short, but completing it a second time with another player provides a hefty amount of replayability.
If you’re looking to battle against a friend rather than buddy up to conquer the main story, you can do so in Bingo Battle. This mode pits you against one another and then the race is on to collect certain fruits to complete your bingo card. It’s frantically fun and being able to scope out what the other player needs to complete their card can make for some very competitive games. This is the weakest addition to the title, however, and probably won’t get much use outside of a quick couple of rounds.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe caters to those who prefer to tackle the game on their own, too. As touched on earlier, the main story can be completed in around eight hours, though this can be extended if you collect every fruit or increase the difficulty. The added Side Stories are available quickly and they showcase what Olimar and Louis are up to while Charlie, Alph and Brittany are going about their business in the main game. I won’t go into specifics about the plot, but Nintendo has delivered well on the game’s execution by adding more depth into the narrative – just don’t expect any revelations since this is added content, not plot-defining material! All told, the Side Stories are more challenging than the main story missions. Using pre-set conditions and some tight time limits, they’re more akin to the Missions DLC that could be purchased for the original Wii U version.
Speaking of the ‘Mission’ content (i.e. objectives that consist of limited-time scenarios with small groups of Pikmin), these can also be experienced with an additional player. The missions are short, but they test your organisational and multitasking skills, and can be trialled as many times as you wish. Failing to exercise caution, due to the minuscule amount of Pikmin at your disposal, will result in a failed attempt and you’ll have to start over. Get it right and you’ll reach the quota needed for a medal. Of course, this is where you’ll find the most replayability as you hone your skills to delegate, plan and approach the tasks more effectively.
Other sections to note are the small, but beneficial, differences between this version and the Wii U. For example, hints can easily be switched on to assist progression, dirt paths are now included making the sense of direction more user intuitive and, perhaps the most subtle of differences, the inclusion of HD rumble. When playing other Switch titles, I’ve never used – up until now – the Joy-Con or Pro-Controller’s HD rumble feature to help me progress. But in Pikmin 3 Deluxe it can be used to discover your enemy’s location. Sure, you can press the minus button to view the map and find them yourself, but having my controller vibrate with surprising accuracy around my palm in the direction of my foe who is stomping in a nearby puddle feels unique, but above all else, it’s actually helpful.
Other additions include the likes of new difficulty modes: normal, hard and an ‘ultra-spicy’ mode, which ups the ante and limits the total number of Pikmin allowed on the field to 60 from 100, as well as the Piklopedia. Accessing the Piklopedia from the pause screen, you have the option to view an in-depth description of the enemies faced on your journey that you’ve encountered, and each captain offers their take on how best to beat them. It’s useful for when you’re against the clock since it ensures you’re targeting their weak points for massive damage, even for the giant enemy crabs. There’s also an option to view online global rankings, showing how well you rank against fellow players. The results were a little sparse for us but, after recording more players’ data, there’s extra motivation if you’re a competitive type.
Fans hoping for a complete technical rehaul should temper their expectations as Nintendo has seemingly done very little in improving the title’s visuals. And they didn’t have to as the game is already gorgeous, with each one of the five locations you’re given access to blooming with life. From the gloomy caves of the Garden of Hope to the glimmering snowy landscape of Distant Tundra, I always looked forward to landing the S.S Drake to explore every stage. The clean visual design and catchy, but never intrusive, soundtrack fit perfectly for each location. Plus, the distant groan of your enemies waiting to chomp on your Pikmin army is eerie enough to keep you on your toes from dawn ‘til dusk.
But what if you’ve played and completed the game prior to this release? The great news is that there’s plenty to digest in Pikmin 3 Deluxe and, although the added missions add a few more hours of play, this really is the definitive edition. Don’t expect improved visuals – as the game runs well without any hitches anyway on handheld and TV modes – but the shining star is co-op play.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is well-rounded and even more replayable than its original outing seven years ago; it’s a joy to experience, even if it’s your second time doing so. And with the ‘Ultra-spicy Mode’, seasoned Pikmin players should look forward to the new challenge that awaits. For newcomers, let’s just say you’re in for a magnificent treat. If you’ve never played a Pikmin game before now, stop what you’re doing and order yourself a copy. Your tiny but mighty army is waiting for you.
A review copy of Pikmin 3 Deluxe was provided to My Nintendo News by Nintendo UK.