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Pikmin 4 Review: A Hecking Cute Time

This is a story all about how, my spaceship got flipped turned upside down. And while I’m sitting here chilling with the Rescue Corp, I’d like to tell you all a story about Pikmin 4.

It’s been a little over a week since Pikmin 4 came out. I’ve spent the better part of that week playing through it, exploring every location, and finding all the collectibles. It’s been an immensely enjoyable time.

Pikmin 4 plucking a Pikmin

What is Pikmin 4?

Here’s the thing about Pikmin 4: you can get a damn good idea if you’re going to enjoy it by playing the demo. Seriously. Why are you even reading this? (That sound in the background is my editor not-so-quietly pulling his hair out screaming something about viewership numbers).

For those that don’t have spare hour or so to try the demo, Pikmin 4 is a very unique game. The closest game to it I can think of is Brutal Legend, but that dips more into real time strategy than the Pikmin series does. It’s the combination of strategy, adventure, puzzle, and management sim that makes Pikmin supremely entertaining.

The nuts and bolts of the game is you need to find parts for your crashed ship. Doing so increases the scanning range, letting you extend your search for Captain Olimar. Being such a tiny little person, you need help. That comes in the form of Oatchi the Rescue Pup and, of course, the Pikmin.

Pikmin come in a variety of flavours. Red can withstand fire. Dark blue can survive underwater. Light blue can freeze enemies and bodies of water. There are eight types in total which you will need to use progress.

Oatchi carrying Pikmin through water

New Additions

Oatchi is a new addition to the series. After a short introduction, he can be used as a mount. His jump ability allows the player (and their Pikmin) to reach otherwise untouchable areas. He can also swim, giving players a handy way to get all types of Pikmin across water obstacles. Oatchi also acts as another ‘commander’. That means you can split your Pikmin up between Oatchi and the player character to divide and conquer.

Pikmin 4 features a population cap. It starts at 20 but can be raised to a maximum of 100 by finding Onions and Flarics. Onions will allow you to produce Pikmin of that colour in addition to raising the Pikmin population cap by 10. This is great for if you are running short on a particular type of Pikmin. Be aware that there are two types of Pikmin that cannot be reproduced through Onions.

Time isn’t really a factor in the main game. Yes, there’s the day cycle, but given how easy it is to keep Pikmin at the end of the day there’s never any pressure presented by it. That’s a good thing. It gives the game a very chill vibe and made exploring much easier.

Post Demo Goodness

Like I said earlier, all this you’ll learn by playing the demo. Let’s have a chat about what’s not in the demo.

Night expedition in Pikmin 4

The big thing that set tongues wagging after the February Nintendo Direct was the announcement of night expeditions. Monsters become more active at night and previous entries in the series haven’t let you play in the dark. I was excited to see what this new format held. Turns out it was a survival mode. In order to secure medicine for story reasons, players need to protect special mounds called Lumiknolls. If these survive the night, the medicine is secured. Normal Pikmin are unavailable during this time, with a ninth type, Glow Pikmin, available for combat.

Dandori Challenges and Dandori Battles can be found spread throughout areas in Pikmin 4. The concept of Dandori is focus on efficiency and strategy. Minimise the actions you take to do a thing and you’ll be better off. This is where the chill feeling of Pikmin starts to transform.

I had a great time with Dandori Challenges. There was so much strategy involved with working out what to do, what to prioritise, and where to go in levels. It was a thrill to try something different and see how it affected the result.

Combat in Pikmin 4

On the other hand, I found Dandori Battles to not be as fun. These pitted you against a CPU opponent, but I didn’t find as much satisfaction in defeating them as I did beating Dandori Challenges. It felt like there was a lot of luck involved in how the CPU opponent acted. Solving the Dandori Challenge Puzzles felt more rewarding. Dandori Battles can also be played against another player.

After you rescue Olimar a kind of prologue story opens. Players can step into the shoes of Olimar and relive his early days on the planet. Unlike the main story, where you have as many days as you want, Olimar only has 15 days to recover all 30 parts of his ship. It’s a throwback to older Pikmin titles, where the days were limited. Coming when it does, it a pleasing challenge and a reward for your in game efforts..

Pikmin 4 Summary

All in all, Pikmin 4 is a very charming game. While I did feel like there was a definite difficulty spike about two thirds of the way through, it never felt unfair. If you think about what’s in front of you, you’ll find a solution. I highly recommend this game.

This review utilised a key provided by Nintendo. Pikmin 4 is out now on Nintendo Switch.

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