Hey! Pikmin is the latest title in the Pikmin series and is a first for the 3DS, ditching its traditional time management/exploration gameplay this new outing certainly tips the formula on its head. So how does it hold up?
Captain Olimar has gotten himself into a bit of a pickle, he’s crash landed on a strange planet inhabited by Pikmin. Of course they’re very helpful little beings and your task is to gather enough sparklium to power the ship back to his home and they’re more than happy to help. The story is certainly not the most imaginative and won’t win any awards for originality but that’s never really been the focus of any Pikmin game.
Hey! Pikmin has a very unique style of gameplay, in the sense it is nothing like its console counterparts. it’s a 2.5D side-scroller, mixed with a bit of platforming. A lot like many Kirby and Yoshi games on the handheld. You’ll be using the different coloured Pikmin across a variety of themed worlds that range from the traditional wind, fire, ice platform to help you gather items and sparkium. There are 5 levels in each world, with one bonus level (which can be found via hidden exits), and additional mini levels which just gain you more sparkium or Pikmin and with 8 worlds in total its certainly a lot of content included.
Amiibo functionality is also present, you can use the Hey! Pikmin amiibo to call upon Pikmin mid-level and various other amiibo gain you figurines which are basically collectible versions of themselves in-game. The objective of each level is to reach your ship and to collect the “giant items” within each stage with the help of your Pikmin crew, whilst not essential you do get a gold pikmin symbol above the level if you finish with all Pikmin collected and no Pikmin deaths. A lot easier said than done.
Each world is an enjoyable affair, but the gameplay unfortunately does fall flat. After about the fourth world I started to wonder how many worlds I had left as I just wanted to reach the end, it’s not particularly challenging and you can see the animation and small cutscenes that are shown are aimed at younger children. Most of the collectibles on each level, there are usually between 2-4, require your Pikmin help carry them down to you but are never really taxing to acquire. I can’t remember a time when I got stuck on any of the levels and I managed to find all of the items 90% of the time on my first play through.
I’m not one for focusing heavily on graphics and I much prefer great gameplay, but when that has fallen flat you kind of want something pretty to look at. Unfortunately Hey! Pikmin doesn’t deliver in that department either. Whilst not the worst looking game I’ve ever played, the textures look grainy and the backgrounds look like they would be much better suited on a DS which is disappointing. It’s not a deal breaker though and there’s some cute animations between the Pikmin that did put a smile across my face. I just wish the game had a bit more polish!
Coloured Companions Give You All The Help You Need
If you’re new to the Pikmin series then this is a great place to start as the first five worlds are each based around a Pikmin colour, here’s a rundown of what each of them do:
- Red Pikmin – Fire resistant, basic starters.
- Blue Pikmin – Water resistant but not very much height when throwing.
- Rock Pikmin – Heavy blighters that can destroy ice blocks and certain enemy shells.
- Yellow Pikmin – Electricity resistant and great at throwing as they fling the highest and furthest.
- Pink Pikmin – Flying ability and can carry you acoss chasms and float you up with the wind.
Towards the back end of the game you’ll be using a few different coloured Pikmin across individual levels and it can get quite hectic on screen trying to keep track of them all. One of the optional extras is the Pikmin Park, all of the Pikmin you take back with you from each level add up to a grand total. They’re split into coloured teams and in the Pikmin Park there are different areas which the different Pikmin are more suited to based on their abilities, you can pick which Pikmin to assemble where and they’ll then hunt for treasure and sparklium whilst you’re playing across the levels. For example, one area has a pool of water, some grassy weeds and a section which is on fire so as you can see there’s certain Pikmin you wouldn’t put in specific areas. Once they’ve found something you’ll be notified when you’ve finished the level.
Hey! Pikmin is an enjoyable game in small doses, the gameplay is not up to usual Pikmin standards for me but I think that’s more to do with the audience it’s aimed at. There are some great nods to retro games, like finding a giant NES cartridge for the original Legend of Zelda game amongst some other classics along the way. The graphics could have been better but given the cutesy nature of the game, didn’t dampen the experience. There is plenty of content for the price tag, with 8 worlds and hidden extras, tons of collectibles and an enticing side-game in the form of Pikmin Park it can take a while to play through. If you’re a bit of an OCD collectomaniac like me, you’ll be in your element.
However, the boss battles are lacklustre and feel very lazy, the enemies are cheaply designed and with no learning curve or great challenge as you progress it’s hard to imagine playing the game through again or even putting the cartridge back into my 3DS. It’s a good attempt at replicating the charm of the console games, but unfortunately for me it did leave me feeling a little flat.