Published on November 17th, 2020 | by Zorbz

REVIEW: Pikmin 3 Deluxe


Pikmin 3: Deluxe is an enhanced version of Nintendo’s quirky, strange, stressful and yet somehow relaxing strategy game that first released in 2013 on Wii U and it was played by over 1,000,000 people. Were you one of them? If you have strength, electricity, can swim, fly, or have a rock for a head maybe now’s your chance to join the squad on Nintendo Switch.

Concept: Good news everyone, you don’t need to play Pikmin 1 or 2 on the Gamecube or Wii to enjoy this one as the game introduces new characters from a previously unmentioned planet called Koppai. Alph, Brittany and Charlie are humanoids about one inch tall, that have crash landed on an Earth-like planet known as PNF-404, and they are discovering Pikmin for the first time.

Separated from the crash, and desperately in need of food, Alph realises these plant creatures (Pikmin) respond to his whistle, and help him collect fruit, fight enemies, and solve puzzles – and he can command a horde of up to 100 of them at a time. If Alph fails to collect enough food, it’s game over at sunset, and each in-game day only lasts 13 minutes where you can decide if you will retry to make more progress, or continue to the next day.

Your goal is simple: explore each part of the world to find your team mates without running out of food, and later search for Captain Olimar who is suspected to have a part for the spaceship that will help them return to their home planet Koppai with all the fruit they need. It’s a balancing game, without the wobbly motion controls (unless you decide to turn those on for the ‘classic’ experience).

Also any Pikmin you leave behind when the sun sets stand as a morbid reminder of your failure, as you watch helplessly as while they are consumed by beasts as you safely lift off from the planet’s dangerous surface. It’s like a sort of adorable massacre, which tugs at your heartstrings and makes you want to be better. The Pikmin deserve better, damn it.

Graphics: The game already looked stunning with a timeless art style and it still does, although some may be disappointed to learn it runs in 720p instead of full 1080p I honestly didn’t notice. The framerate never drops until checking for myself, and the micro/macro lenses used to blur the background scenery while focusing on targets give perfect examples of scale… reminding you that things in this very tiny world can still appear massive even in the top down perspective.

It’s technically impressive if you can ignore a couple of jagged edges every now and then, especially when you consider the massive amounts of chaos… 100 highly detailed Pikmin fighting several enemies at once without the game ever leaving the console running out of breath at 30 frames per second.

The Pikmin themselves are brightly coloured, so even on the small screen you can easily tell each group apart but I found myself preferring docked mode just to appreciate the level of detail of every animation.

Gameplay: Once you find Brittany and Charlie you can switch between the characters but they all have the same physical attributes, and become part of the horde that trails behind whichever character you have selected.

However, where the game begins to open up is when re-visiting each of the 5 main story areas after discovering a new Pikmin species that helps you reach areas you couldn’t before. It makes the game feel less linear, as you can choose where and what to focus on even though you still have one main objective, and whichever areas you open up stay open forever so there’s always a sense of progress (and danger) to move things forward. The game can be finished in 6-10 hours of playtime, but how WELL you finish the game can vary drastically, which warrants repeat playthrough or at least do-overs of particularly bad days that have too much Pikmin genocide.

Controlling up to 3 Captains also adds elements of puzzles and strategy, where you may need to throw one Captain to a hard to reach area and decide how many Pikmin to give them, while you send another Captain to the other side of the map. It introduces these elements so gradually, that before I knew it I was actually multitasking, giving a command to collect fruit.

Fighting isn’t automatic though, as it turns out these Pikmin are not the brightest of creatures, similar to Lemmings (does anybody remember Lemmings?) they need a lot of guidance. A small bug will brutally murder many Pikmin if you don’t throw them in the right direction, so it pays to pay attention.

Sound: You can always depend on Nintendo to give each of their franchises a distinctive look and feel, and a very big part of that always comes from the sound. Pikmin’s theme song isn’t an upbeat victory, because it knows that some days will be hard, and that some of us are really terrible at looking after plants and should have just stuck with plastic decorations instead. This means the Pikmin music is relaxing, and soft, and gentle with small queues when time limits are about to run out, or slightly more intense during boss battles – but the theme is always there.

There’s also a lot of depth to the sound, and it takes proper advantage of my surround speakers, which often pointed me to where I needed to be so naturally. Each sound means something, whether it’s the sad “woobooohoo” of a Pikmin death, or an off-screen successful resource gathered – the sound informs a lot of what you do, since everything on the map happens in real-time even when you can’t see it.

Character dialogue is spoken in a sort of Japanese-sounding jibberish while short text is displayed (no long dialogue to skip, yay) and every action has a distinctive sound to go with it while the music fills the space.

Awesomeness: This game is all about exploration within limited sprints, and the exploration is what’s rewarding. The most awesome moments for me, was when I realised I was actually starting to get good at it. When less Pikmin were dying, when more fruit was gathered, when the story was moving forward and the characters got a little more optimistic between levels. When I went back to an old level, with new Pikmin and thought “oooh THAT’s how you get past this bit”.

There was no specific wow moment, but the game is filled with dozens and dozens of tiny rewarding moments that thankfully don’t come from micro transactions or loot boxes trying to trick my brain into a dose of instant-gratification serotonin. The awesome feelings are real. 2013 was a simpler time for gaming, and Nintendo are reminding us in 2020 that it can still be like that on the Switch.

Final Word: Pikmin 3 looks like a light and easy puzzle strategy game for kids, with its funny names for fruit and alien observations of old human junk – but it allows so much more. It allows you to invest your time and effort carefully, and rewards you more for what you put in.

Sure you might want the game to be a bit longer, but games like this are as long as you want them to be. Did you finish the game without killing any Pikmin? Did you finish all the DLC challenges that come bundled with this version with Gold Medals? Can you be trusted with a houseplant? That’s still a no from me, but I’ll be sure to keep trying.

REVIEW: Pikmin 3 Deluxe Zorbz

Out of 5 Bugs!




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