The Pikmin series has been around since the early 2000s and is one of Nintendo’s more popular franchises. The cute, colourful plant-like Pikmin creatures have buried themselves into fans’ hearts across the world and the infamous protagonist Captain Olimar has even been immortalized as an amiibo. The games across the franchise focus solely on real-time strategy which some would argue is a dying genre but to the fans of this franchise and genre the spark is still alive. And with the next installment in the franchise upon us in the form of this spin-off title known as Hey! PIKMIN, the only question is – will that spark ignite even brighter…? Let’s find out.
Captain Olimar is in trouble once again. Having crash landed on another alien planet and obviously being the most unluckiest pilot in the universe, he now not only has to repair his damaged ship but also search and find an enormous amount of Sparklium (the fuel source for his ship) if he is to have any chance of making it off the planet. To his surprise however he comes across a species inhabiting the planet that he has previously encountered – The Pikmin.
Pikmin titles usually have players focusing on a wide variety of tasks and missions in a large open 3D world. Hey! PIKMIN unfortunately sways away from this formula completely and puts players in a more 2D action environment. Think about a platfomer but without the ability to jump. Captain Olimar however is equipped with a jet-pack that allows him from time to time to reach higher platforms without throwing Pikmin all over the place.
The levels are well designed, often granting players a choice of different paths to explore and treasures to find. In turn each level has three major treasures to locate and collect. Once found, the treasures also play a large role in adding to the number of Sparklium, although can be missed through the first play-through of each level. This of course gives players a reason to return to the levels. In some cases players will have no choice but to complete the level and return at a later stage. The levels include underwater caverns, underground areas filled with diamond invested structures and flowery fields.
The game shines the most with the stars themselves – the Pikmin. The game includes quite a number of different Pikmin to assist Captain Olimar on his mission.
The game shines the most with the stars themselves – the Pikmin. The game includes quite a number of different Pikmin to assist Captain Olimar on his mission. Included in the lineup are the red Pikmin (resistant to fire), the yellow Pikmin (conductors of electricity) and the rock Pikmin (master miners). The game unfortunately doesn’t allow the player to choose Pikmin before the missions and you’re limited to around 20 Pikmin per level.
Pikmin Park is an interesting feature added to the game. Pikmin Park allows players to send Pikmin saved in each level to be sent on mini missions to collect additional Sparklium. Unfortunately as with the rest of the game this feature is not based in real time and players will have to leave their Pikmin in the park and depart on missions whilst the Pikmin collect/discover the treasures.
The enemies in Hey! PIKMIN are unfortunately not much of a challenge. Players can easily knock out enemies with one hit or in the larger enemy instances just stand next to the enemy and spam. Boss battles also unfortunately don’t pose much of a challenge. Each boss may be different in size and look but their tells make it too easy for players to dodge their attacks and counter instantly.
All in all Hey! PIKMIN is a fun little title on the Nintendo 3DS, bringing fans of the series something to hold them off with until the main line title hits the Nintendo Switch but alas it might not be something that will keep returning fans going back to until the next installment nor is it something that will draw new players into the series. The levels may be well designed but after the fourth round through it, it tends to become a tad monotonous. The Pikmin charm is there and the music within each level does bring a warming joy, however the puzzles and enemies are far too light to make this title something to hold onto. In retrospect the most challenging part about the game is going back into a level to try and save every single Pikmin within the levels without fatalities.
The controls are quite accurate, however holding my 3DS XL up with one hand while my other uses the stylus does become a bit tiring. This of course does not fault the game itself but if you were hoping for a real time strategy based Pikmin title in Hey! PIKMIN, I highly recommend that you look the other way or wait on Nintendo to bring out what we’re all hoping for – Pikmin 4.