Nintendo sure loves porting their previous generation games to Switch and their latest is a new version of the delightful Pikmin 3.
I remember playing the original Pikmin when it released on GameCube back in the day and it was unlike anything I've ever played before. It was great fun controlling a miniature human-like alien named Captain Olimar as you interact with and befriend Pikmin, the vegetable inhabitants of a mysterious planet. Most Nintendo games up to that point featured challenging single player campaigns where you go on epic quests or run and jump through a series of levels so it was odd to play one of their games where all you do is explore a planet while commanding an army of living vegetation. Even though it was an unexpected experience, it offered a fresh gaming formula that delighted many gamers. That is; until you see your first Pikmin bite the dust as it's difficult to feel anything but a sense of loss for the poor fellow. Since then, there have been a couple of sequels and Pikmin 3 remains the fullest-featured installment so let's see what it's all about.
Pikmin 3 follows the same core gameplay formula as the previous games except this time around, there are a couple more Pikmin types including rock ones that are quite tough and winged ones that can carry stuff overhead. You also control 3 captain characters and can swap between them on the fly. This allows you to accomplish tasks more efficiently, especially considering the fact that you can order them to do things like travel long distances without having to be in direct control of them. Efficiently completing tasks as you command the 5 different kinds of Pikmin to their strengths makes for an extremely rewarding gameplay formula that'll thoroughly test your ability to strategize and manage time. With that being said, it's accessible enough that anyone can master its fundamentals.
Something that I've always loved about Pikmin ever since the first game is that its visuals perfectly portray a miniature world that manages to feel big despite the characters being less than 1 inch tall. This is accomplished through detailed representations of flora and real-world items that exist within gorgeous nature-filled environments. Pikmin 3 is definitely the best-looking game in the franchise and its clever use of camera focus really makes its little world shine. Even when it rains, the water drops are bigger than in other games and there are fewer of them onscreen which further emphasizes the size of the game world. Meanwhile, the audio is fantastic complete with a lovely atmospheric soundtrack, gratifying sound effects, and character gibberish speak that sounds like a real language, especially when the odd English word is pronounced with the characters' goofy accents. Simply put, games don't get much lovelier than Pikmin 3.
Of course, this is Pikmin 3 Deluxe so what's so deluxe about it? Well, there is a solid amount of extra content including all of the DLC from the original that adds missions to Mission mode which can either be played solo or cooperatively with a chum. Speaking of which, you can actually play the story campaign cooperatively now and it features a new prologue and epilogue, too. With that being said, the core experience is nearly identical to the 2013 Wii U release and one downside is that Switch doesn't have a GamePad which made the Wii U version more immersive as you had a companion device with its own screen to supplement the gameplay. I wish there was a companion app for Pikmin 3 Deluxe to replicate this aspect. Other than that, this is an excellent game that newcomers will surely enjoy.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe may not be a huge step up from its previous incarnation but it's such a wonderful adventure that it's a must-have for anyone who missed out on the Wii U version. If only Switch had a GamePad peripheral...
- + Excellent gameplay that rewards time management and strategy skills
- + Lovely visuals even while undocked
- + Substantial amount of extra content
- - Could use a companion app to make up for the lack of GamePad functionality
- - Not that different to the 2013 Wii U release