Has the world got you down? You grind all day long for money, but it’s never quite enough. Pikuniku captures that feeling and gives it a good kick. Much like the outside world, despite Pikuniku‘s bright colours and quirky looking characters, there is something sinister at play underneath. For a game that seemingly is about a funny looking red creature that has an oblong ball for a head and a couple of long legs, the tone is surprisingly cutting towards the attitudes of capitalism, though don’t expect an admiration for socialism in response.
The setup sees the Piku (the gangling red creature) awoken from its slumber in a cave by a ghost. Unlike the typical call to adventure, though, they are almost immediately thrown into a cage, mistaken for a monster by the area’s locals. Fortunately, the locals quickly realise that Piku is not to be feared and that something isn’t quite right about another character, a Mr Sunshine, who has made a name for himself through throwing money around in exchange for all the locals’ corn.
Much of Pikuniku then sees you helping to save other villages that are being drained of their resources by Mr Sunshine, who is consolidating all the island’s wealth for himself. Mr Sunshine does have help, though, in the form of a robot army whose larger machines act as enjoyable boss battles in each village. Before, though, the inhabitants of the different villages require some additional assistance.
This is where the variation of the game comes in, with RPG elements introducing quest-like objectives like finding a missing worm in a cave system or proving how cool you are in a dance-off. These can also introduce basic puzzle elements that do just enough to engage your brain, even if ultimately all Piku must do is kick different things. This might sound mundane, but when enveloped in the quirkiness of Pikunuku, it’s enough to make it a memorable experience.
The platforming sections present the most challenging gameplay, but they’re designed in a way that prevent them from becoming too frustrating for younger players. However, for a challenge there are optional additional platforming sections that ramp up the complexity that really test your agility and reflexes and reward you with in-game trophies.
Pikuniku is just a fun game to control. The jumping movement is a little floaty, but the animation of Piku walking (along with all the characters, actually) is so endearing. Plus, it’s hilarious to observe just how often kicking something can be a perfectly suitable solution to a problem. You won’t be controlling Piku for all that long, but the three-hour or so length also feels about right. With multiplayer options to take in too, Pikuniku comes recommended.
Pikuniku is the perfect Sunday afternoon game; short, but sweet. It’s an enjoyable romp through a pleasant world, teaching the important life lesson that kicking things is often the simplest solution.