[Editor’s note: You can read our full review of Pikmin 4 here.]
The Pikmin 4 demo is currently available on the Switch ahead of its full release on the 21st of July. It’s been a while since I’ve played a Pikmin game. In fact, I’ve only played the first back on the GameCube, but even back then I could tell that it was a special. The gameplay was unique and the look of protagonist Captain Olimar, the Pikmin and the world still gives me cuteness overload.
It’s been a decade since Pikmin 3, and fans are keen to see what’s in store for the series.
Pikmin 4 Demo
If you’re worried about playing the demo and having to replay it when the full game comes out, don’t. Progress will carry over to the full release. If you are a Pikmin Bloom player (a Pikmin mobile game in the same vein as Pokemon Go), you can claim some rewards after completing the demo.
The Pikmin 4 demo opens with the crew controlling Captain Olimar. He’s crash landed (again) and is trying to make his way home. In a basic opening, you’re taught to handle a Rescue Pup (more on that later) and basic Pikmin use. Pretty quickly he is able to send a signal to the Rescue Corp to pick him up but guess what? They crash too! It’s up to the rookie (the player character) to mount a search party to find everyone.
There’s a basic character creation tool that gives some freedom of expression. With a decent number of options including body type, facial features, hair and colour, most people will be satisfied with what’s presented.
It takes a little while to get to actual Pikmin in the Pikmin 4 demo. Rather than get to the nuts and bolts, the game guides players through the use of Oatchi the Rescue Pup, our new pupper companion and bestest of boys. He’s small to begin with but can do things like dig, pull and rush. Progress through the demo and Oatchi will grow, allowing you to ride him. This gives players a quicker way of getting around. It also allows for quicker dispersion of Pikmin as they will ride on the Oatchi’s back and jump off after his rush ability hits something.
Eventually you’ll come across the SS Shepherd and must repair it. This is done by collecting treasures that are converted into sparklium. The demo ends when a day ends and more than 1500 sparklium has been collected.
Odds & Ends
There’s quite a bit in the Pikmin 4 demo and rather than list it all, here’s some things thing caught my attention:
- If there are multiple Pikmin ready for plucking in the area you just need to pick one and your character will get the others automatically.
- Menu options can be assigned to the d-pad, allowing quick access to the common menu areas. There doesn’t seem to be on screen indication of what been set though and I found myself still having to search for the options I wanted.
- Areas track collectibles, a godsend for completionists.
- There’s a lot to do in the demo. As long as players stay under 1500 sparklium they can play for as long as they want (or until they reach a progression barrier)
- Areas are quite large. To compensate for this, shortcuts can be opened and bases moved closer to where the action is, meaning less time for Pikmin to drag items back to base.
- Players don’t have to be at a base when the day ends. If all Pikmin are under the control of the player (meaning they’re not carrying items or not following the player) they will survive and move to the next day with you.
- The day can be ended early through the menu. Underground areas can also be exited in this manner. I had to discover this for myself so I’m hoping the game will tell you about this feature later.
I was interested in Pikmin 4 after it was announced, but the Pikmin 4 demo has elevated it to a must play for me. It’s chill, it rewards exploration and it’s just plain fun. If you’re on the fence about it, give the demo a try. You’ve got nothing to lose and a very enjoyable game to experience.