Title: Hey! Pikmin
Platform: Nintendo 3DS (played on a New 3DS)
Release Date: July 28th, 2017 (NA)
Review copy provided by Nintendo
So here’s the latest collaboration between Nintendo and Arzest, the latter of which I happen to be a big fan of. This follows from Arzest’s two previous 3DS games with Nintendo, first being Yoshi’s New Island and Mario & Sonic at Rio 2016 Olympic Games on 3DS, the latter reuniting Naoto Ohshima with the very blue hedgehog he designed and co-created. So how does Arzest’s take on the Pikmin franchise fare? Let’s find out!
Hey! Pikmin got some flack from the get-go upon the unveiling back during the September 1st, 2016 Nintendo Direct. Folks found it jarring that Olimar is now moving on a 2D plane and it didn’t seem to feature the immersive worlds that were featured in the previous three mainline games on GameCube (ported to Wii) and latter Wii U.
So how does the game fare in terms of play-ability, fun factor, etc? Believe it or not, very well actually. You take control of Captain Olimar, the main hero of Pikmin 1 and Pikmin 2. In a similar fashion to the first game, your ship (now called the S.S. Dolphin 2) crash lands on, where else, the Pikmin planet again (he’s got to stop flying near that thing). Your sentient ship (in a similar fashion to the ship in Pikmin 2) tells you that you need to collect sparklium, a special substance that powers your ship since the crash dried your supply. You accomplish this by finding treasures (like in Pikmin 2) and sparklium seeds scattered throughout.
Levels play out in a 2D side-scroller fashion. The game is entirely controlled via the bottom touch screen and the circle-pad to move Olimar. You use your Pikmin pals to kill enemies and retrieve goodies. Usually this requires you to tap the screen in the spot you wish to throw Pikmin to. Certain objects are perched high up on the top screen (the game uses a vertical dual-screen viewpoint, think Sonic Rush for example), and you may need to throw Pikmin high up to retrieve an item to have them carry it downward. As mentioned you also need to kill enemies that stand in your way by throwing Pikmin at them, however Pikmin are as resistant as wet toilet paper, so the second they make any physical contact that doesn’t kill an enemy, they’re toast, and you don’t want that. You want to retain all of the Pikmin you collect in a level to earn a gold Pikmin symbol on the level’s icon on the world map (you also need to collect every one in the stage, no exceptions).
Gameplay of the first level
Treasures are also a key part of the collecting process. You not only earn lots of sparklium from them (usually a few hundred each), but you need all three in a level to 100% it. Luckily the game features amiibo support and in particular a brand-new Pikmin amiibo made for the game. Using this, you can call upon Pikmin to join you straight away, but there’s a minor catch. The catch is that you can’t cheat and lose a Pikmin and use the amiibo to call one and hope to get that gold Pikmin symbol. You lose any Pikmin, you don’t get it. Also the amiibo can level up, which is done by collecting Pikmin after each stage to show up in the Pikmin Park. Each level gained gives you more Pikmin in a stage (4 per level gained).
Pikmin Park is this extra area on the level select screen that is where your Pikmin hang around after levels are completed. Here you can point your Pikmin to certain areas to pluck leaves and certain hazards that certain Pikmin are immune to (Reds are immune to fire, Yellows are immune to electricity, etc), and after a few levels are played, they may find sparklium to add to your total.
A treasure from the log
Another addition is a log where you can look over your collection of treasures, enemies encountered, etc in full 3D. Another category is statues, or simply, amiibo! You have two options for that; scan a compatible amiibo (say the Super Mario series Mario amiibo), or the Pikmin amiibo and the latter will spawn one of five amiibos in each world area. These are spawned on special spots where you must complete a small task to collect said statue, which then gets you more sparklium, but also some extra Pikmin for the Pikmin Park. So as long as you have a Pikmin amiibo, you can get every one of these statues in time. Quite handy really, I very highly recommend the Pikmin amiibo if you can find one.
The game itself is actually really fun. I find that it’s challenging but fair. It can be rough trying to not get a single Pikmin killed, but still, you can just try again and it doesn’t seem to keep any permanent record of losses (which the main games do). Overall I actually recommend this game, it’s certainly the best game by Arzest that I’ve seen thus far and I very much look forward to seeing what they do with Nintendo on Switch in the future (hopefully a new IP… please?). By the way, the music is legit good this time, no Yoshi Clan-caliber tune here. 😉
+ It’s a good-looking game I feel. It may only run in 30fps, but I don’t think that takes anything away from the game really. It’s colorful, characters are well animated, it’s legit pretty.
+ The music is good, at least I didn’t find anything bad, though nothing fantastic (the world map theme is great though).
+ The game controls wonderfully, simply touch spots to throw Pikmin effortlessly towards. A couple icons to whistle Pikmin to you or hover for a few seconds to each certain areas, it’s very well done.
+ The treasures are wonderful to collect. Not only are some actual Nintendo items, but every item has a cute name given to them ala Pikmin 2.
+ Enemies are really cute (like the chicken enemies) and give the world a lively feel.
+ It’s nice seeing the spotlight on Olimar again. I wasn’t a fan of the crew in Pikmin 3 (save for Charlie, he’s hilarious!).
+ Quite a few things to do, so it doesn’t really get repetitive I feel.
+ amiibo support is used very well and doesn’t lock key content behind it. It’s a great assist when needed.
– Pikmin have no health, so they’ll die upon even touching an enemy. Not fun when trying to preserve every Pikmin in a stage.
– Music as said could be more memorable save for a track or two.
– Purple and White Pikmin aren’t present, it’s the same ones from Pikmin 3 again. Shame, Purple was always my fav!