The poor Koppaite population will soon be starving. Having over-populated their world, they cannot produce enough nourishment for the masses. Rather than look at more morbid ways of fixing the imbalance, like, say, mass genocide – fair and at random – the leaders instead decide to scout the galaxy for places to pilfer food from. Hey, it’s a better solution than voting against giving meal vouchers.
And so it was that a trio of intrepid explorers – named Charlie, Alph, and Brittany – identify a mysterious planet which they label “PNF-404” as having suitable food supplements and head off to explore it, which is where our journey with Pikmin 3 Deluxe begins.
“Wait a second, Pikmin 3 Deluxe?” I hear you bellow. Yes, you read that correctly, and Pikmin 3 is the latest Wii U title to get the Switch porting deluxe treatment. It is a real-time strategy title that was first conceived by Shigeru Miyamoto for the first title and has seen many refinements and improvements over the Wii U release. There can’t be many port-worthy Wii U games left now, can there? Regardless, this one was well worth coming over!
Upon their descent to the planet, the trinity of unlikely heroes are separated from each other and end up in different locations. Serving as our introduction to the game, we begin with Captain Charlie who, after surveying his surroundings, encounters some strange humanoid plant-creatures which he quickly learns are called “Pikmin”. With a blast on his trusty whistle, they instantly obey his command, and he realises he can chuck them to whatever he is aiming at. Charlie and his team of Pikmin venture off into a nearby cave before we lose contact, where we instead continue our quest with a different character.
Alph awakens to find himself with a different species of Pikmin, and this is where the real meat and potatoes of Pikmin 3 Deluxe begins, which involves you learning how to utilise the different Pikmin to solve the puzzles and mysteries around you. Alph’s Pikmin come with an “onion”, a sort of craft in which the Pikmin can be stored. By targeting the seeds found in your surroundings – each one numbered to indicate how many Pikmin it’s worth – you can sprout new Pikmin, which explode from the onion and plant themselves in the ground, ripe for plucking and joining your ranks. As your entourage grows, you can take on bigger challenges, like pushing boxes, building bridges and tackling nasty beasties.
That’s right, nasty beasties. The Pikmin are not the only indigenous species on the planet, and there are all manner of monstrous critters that love to chow down on little plant-like creatures. Thankfully these are introduced slowly over time, and new to this version of the game, you can target and lock on to things, which makes combat much easier than the original.
Each section of the adventure is broken up using day and night mechanics. You have a fixed amount of time to achieve your daily objectives, which ultimately comes down to increasing the size of your horde of flowers, reuniting with your colleagues, amassing as much fruit as you can, and relocating your cosmic drive key in order to blast off and get home. Rinse and repeat until you have conquered all of what PNF-404 has to throw at you.
At the end of each day, you’ll get a progress report of what you achieved, including the items you recovered, population growth (or loss), and how many Pikmin you allowed to perish along the way, including those left behind overnight. Any you do fail to get back aboard the onion ship will be consumed by ferocious nocturnal terrors and will be gone forever. So, don’t do that. Your team will also deplete your nourishment supplies, so maintaining a healthy level by securing new fruits will be crucial. Plus, you want to recover as much as possible for when you eventually return home, of course.
In order to save the day and return to Koppa, mastery of the Pikmin will be crucial. Each of the different species of Pikmin have completely different skills. Alph first encounters the red variety, which are by far the strongest fighters and impervious to fire. The yellow ones can conduct electricity, be thrown higher, and are more effective diggers. The blue species are adept swimmers, but it’ll be a while before the story makes them available to you. New to this entry in the series are two other species: the winged and rock types. Winged Pikmin have tiny little wings and can hold gates and fly across water, whereas the rock ones are unable to be squished and pack a massive wallop, which can be handy for destroying certain materials like glass – or late-game monsters. Ahem. Generally, you’ll need to have a diverse complement of critters to be ready to tackle any situation.
Growing your collective isn’t limited to just the numbered seeds you find on flowers, either. Although returning the coloured pellets to the onion with a matching number of carriers will yield more seeds, the carcasses of your enemies will also have the same effect. You’ll want to reach the endgame with a healthy contingent of all, and some of the more massive monsters will return a far higher reward in population growth.
Mastery of your eco-system is made much easier by being able to split your squad into three, and you can micromanage your teams to focus on different tasks. By using the map, you can coordinate your efforts to strategically move teams to different areas as well. This is made even easier by way of a co-op mode, meaning the entire game can now be played with another player in split-screen.
With over 60 pieces of fruit to discover, loads of larger-scale bosses and an incredibly challenging endgame that will put all your skills to the test with your little floral friends, there’s so much to do in the main campaign, but there’s even more to do beyond that; Pikmin 3 Deluxe also comes with side missions, starring certain Hocotatian characters that may have visited PNF-404 before. On top of this, there are mission modes where you can collect treasure, defeat specific enemies or bosses, or even a quirky “bingo battle” mode in which you match enemies and fruit on a card before your opponent does.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe looks simply incredible. Everything is vibrant and luscious, and you have no difficulty believing that this could be happening in a garden somewhere. The atmosphere is so incredibly immersive and the sounds of everything going on around you are a calming influence – except when there’s tension or your little creatures are in danger, of course! Environments are wonderfully diverse and all the regions are varied; ensuring a rich and exciting adventure around you at all times.
Another nice little touch that wasn’t in the Wii U iteration are badges. Running as a nifty little achievement style system, you are rewarded for completing certain tasks. Those familiar with the equivalents on other consoles will know what to expect here as you are given pop-up notifications for amassing fruit, beating enemies, and completing modes and challenges. It’s a great addition, but for this writer shows how brilliant a trophy system would have been on the Switch all along…
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is an incredible experience. It’s relaxing, challenging, and therapeutic all in one package, with plenty to keep you playing over again and again. Accessible to all players, regardless of whether or not they are strategy fans there’s so much to see and do, it’s something that should definitely be in your collection. If you own it on the Wii U, I don’t think there’s enough to justify the double-dip, but for those that will be experiencing it for the first time, it’s well worth the journey to PNF-404.
Beautiful, challenging, and engaging, Pikmin 3 Deluxe is a fantastic strategic experience, accessible to players of all skill levels. It’s the best version of the best Pikmin title.