Shigeru Miyamoto's much-celebrated strategic puzzle platformer series starring adorable living vegetables finally has a spin-off. However, does Hey! Pikmin translate the fun well to a two-dimensional space?
Hey! Pikmin begins with Captain Olimar crash-landing yet again so it's up to him to collect enough Sparklium (30,000 to be exact) in order to repair his ship and continue his travels through space. Although he's equipped with a handy jetpack, his abilities are unfortunately lacking so he must round up a variety of Pikmin to assist him on his journey. Although they all share the ability to carry objects and attack enemies, red Pikmin are resistant to fire, yellow Pikmin can be thrown further and are immune to electricity, blue Pikmin are the only ones that can swim, rock Pikmin can smash through hard surfaces, and winged Pikmin are constantly flying.
Controlling Captain Olimar and his Pikmin friends is easy as all you use throughout the entire campaign is the circle pad to move Captain Olimar and the touch screen to accomplish everything else. Tapping almost anywhere makes Captain Olimar throw the Pikmin to where you tapped and there are also a few icons that allow you to use Olimar's whistle and jetpack and select which type of Pikmin to throw next. This simple control scheme makes it an easy to understand game for gamers of any skill level. In fact, it's a fairly easygoing adventure all around. The stages are pretty simple to figure out and exploring them is quite relaxing. In the end, this laidback approach to puzzle platforming makes Hey! Pikmin a great game to wind down with at the end of a long day.
As expected, the world of Hey! Pikmin is charming and a joy to explore complete with goofy enemies, cute critters, and a silly sense of humour. For example, unearthing treasures such as a yo-yo and seeing that Olimar named it a "Hypno Pendulum" or that he calls a can of tuna an "Ultra-Sealed Aquarium" is both adorable and pretty funny. Watching him eagerly run around is super-cute, too. The soundtrack is full of fanciful orchestral pieces and the effects of Pikmin cheerfully yelping and chirping adds a lot of fun to the equation.
Fun fact: smell no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil
The three primary Pikmin have interesting design features besides their colours as red Pikmin are the only ones with noses, yellow Pikmin have ears, and blue Pikmin have mouths. Is that how they breathe underwater?
Thankfully, Hey, Pikmin! has a pretty lengthy campaign that's filled with secrets and enjoyable collectibles. For starters, there are eight distinct sectors that each house a handful of levels. Every level contains a variety of hidden treasures (usually 3) to collect so replaying stages to complete your collection is great for perfectionists. On top of this, you'll come across extra levels, secret spots that contain pellets which grant you more Pikmin for your park (the place where Pikmin hang out and search for treasures), and Sparklium springs that test how many Sparklium you can collect during a brief mini-game. You can also scan amiibo to unlock special secret spots that contain amiibo statues which are worth a substantial amount of Sparklium. Simply put, there's a lot to see and do in Hey! Pikmin.
Unfortunately, if you're looking for a challenging 2D puzzle platformer then Hey! Pikmin probably won't provide a satisfying experience. Genre veterans can easily breeze through the campaign without perishing. As long as you play cautiously and don't make any silly decisions then nothing really poses much of a threat. Even the bosses are super-easy. To prove this, I completed them all on my first attempt.
On the other hand, if you want to perfect levels then Hey! Pikmin can be fairly challenging. Discovering all of the items and hidden exits is enjoyable but trying to keep all of the Pikmin unharmed is another story. Basically, there's always one or two that lag behind which makes them easy targets for enemies. Having to ensure they're all following you ends up feeling more like babysitting than fun.
Another annoying factor is that Hey! Pikmin doesn't have any 3D functionality. I understand that you mostly focus on the bottom screen which doesn't have 3D support but it would have been cool to see some depth in the stage designs even if it is only via the top screen. Heck, if just Pikmin Park had this functionality: that would have at least been something to take advantage of the 3D feature.
Hey! Pikmin is a laidback 2D puzzle platformer that includes a large amount of content and replay value. However, its easy-as-pie difficulty level will make any seasoned gamer get bored quicker than Captain Olimar can crash his ship.
- + Relaxing gameplay that's great to wind down with after a long day
- + Charming world and audio
- + Loads of collectibles and secrets
- - Lack of satisfying challenge
- - Pikmin who lag behind can be very annoying
- - No 3D functionality at all