I discovered a weird yet altogether comfortable parallel between the reality of 2020 and the events of Pikmin 3. Desperate to escape the failings of their own planet Koppai, three daring adventurers set out for greener pastures and drawn by the allure of some good juice (genuinely) they arrive on Earth where everything is so much brighter.
It’s clear that Pikmin 3 was first released back in 2013 when people actually still wanted to be on the planet but that drive of escape, the excitement of adventure on a far more welcoming sphere than your own… what can I say beyond, “Man, that sounds really inviting”.
Pikmin 3 was an excellent game seven years ago when it released on the Nintendo Wii U, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by the seven people who played it on that system. It goes without saying then that the Deluxe Edition for the Nintendo Switch delivers that familiar experience of the learned leading the blind with some added elements that flesh out what was already a rather beefy game. Needless to say, Pikmon 3: Deluxe Edition is a fantastic game that will be adored by those of you who played the original while also being an excellent place for newcomers to enter the series.
To elaborate on the game’s premise, your team of intrepid space explorers crash land on Earth when their mission to find a stable supply of food for their dying planet goes a touch awry. Alph, Brittany and Captain Charlie are separated and forced to work with Pikmin, weird plant-based creatures that, for whatever reason, listen to every command given to them.
Okay, so maybe it’s less “work with” and more “grow an entire army of underlings to command and boss around” but that’s just semantics, right? That’s your one mechanical link between all the puzzles and locations in Pikmin 3: The fact that those little buggers will follow whatever commands you tell them to do with varying degrees of success may seem like a limited idea in theory, but Pikmin 3’s level design allows the developers to really squeeze out as much as they can from the premise.
While gathering a small army of plants is compelling in its own right, what I’ve found to be the most interesting part of Pikmin is how you’re tiny. Like, the size of an ant. The entire world is based on the micro-world we step on every day and that’s just rad. The levels of Pikmin 3, of which there are a few with a handful of different themes that mechanically and visually differentiate them, are a showcase in unique level design. Paths bleed into one another, certain entrances are blocked and require certain Pikmin. With some observation you’ll be able to optimise every route back to your ship. While it certainly doesn’t seem like a game where systems optimisation would play a large role in the experience, I found myself thinking of games like Satisfactory as you try and command your little force to take a highly specific route to shave time off their deliveries of food back to the mothership. There’s fun in figuring out the exact amount of Pikmin you’ll need after scoping out a level and ordering them all off to their own tasks before watching them come back together at the end, successful or not.
It also just goes without saying that Pikmin 3’s presentation is just so charming. The variety in critters to hurl at enemies, the different sounds they make when they’re launched into battle or when they’re taking damage, the impressive spread of enemies in the game (made all the more better with some charming bestiary entries) and just how good it all looks. Pikmin 3 does that thing to fruit that Studio Ghibli does to every plate a food; they make it look utterly delectable and just so satisfying when it’s being squashed down into juice. It seems like a weird thing to call out but man, Pikmin 3 made me really want some delicious fruit juice.
In terms of an actual Switch port, it still looks amazing. The WiiU was a much chunkier console than the Switch but the game runs silky smooth with zero hitches even when you’re dashing about a water-filled level with 150 followers gnashing at your feet. The Deluxe Edition also comes with some side-story missions that were apparently cut from the main game and while they’re not a reason to by Pikmin 3 again, they do serve as some fun little supplementary material that complements the core game nicely. I guess if you’re a diehard fan the opportunity to play as both Olimar and Louie in new stages is alluring but they don’t really stand out amongst the rest of the game. Which is fine, there’s enough here that this previously cut content would have felt like needless padding but it’s really nice to know it’s there.
I will say that the control scheme for the Switch can be a touch clunky at times and will certainly take new and old players some time to really get used to it. I have to imagine that implementing a control scheme that was originally designed for two screens down to one was a challenge and while it certainly works it’s most certainly not as intuitive or easy to grasp as I would have liked, especially to some younger players.
Yet that’s my only real gripe with Pikmin 3: Deluxe Edition because overall it’s still such a charming game, oozing with personality and character. While it’s puzzles might be simple to some, the time-trial style gameplay adds enough tension that even the easiest of puzzles begins to feel tense. If you loved Pikmin 3 when it first dropped all those years ago, I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll utterly adore this game and if you’re new to series like I was, just take a leap of faith. Pikmin 3: Deluxe Edition is a great remaster of a fantastic title on a system too few people played.
Last Updated: October 28, 2020