I still kind of class the Pikmin series as one of Nintendo’s newer IPs even though it first came to fame back on the GameCube.
With only three installments and a oft-forgotten spin-off to its name, you feel like Nintendo has a long way it can go with the series, and with a fourth installment also on the way – presumably on Switch – it certainly seems to have a bright future ahead.
While we wait with bated breath for whatever comes next, the Switch may as well gobble up yet another fantastic Wii U game in true Kirby style and throw in some new content for good measure. Pikmin 3 Deluxe, then, is the definitive edition of a truly excellent game.
Pikmin 3 is the best in the series so far – and I adored the original. I love the strategic possibilities it offers, enabling you to split up between your three teammates to cover the entirety of the map. There’s some great new Pikmin, the story is fun, and the UI feels incredibly clean.
The three-person puzzles are a particular highlight – with Alph, Charlie, and Brittany able to work together to build bridges, reach tiered and high ledges, and manage a group of Pikmin to themselves. For instance, you can have Charlie on fruit duty – making sure your team don’t go hungry – while Alph clears the path through enemies, and Brittany keeps an eye out for hidden valuables.
Team members can work semi-autonomously with you, initially guiding their path on the map by tapping on one of several green direction points. Once they reach their destination, you’ll have to instruct them again, but once Pikmin are directed to pick something up, charge a wall, or attack something, they won’t stop until the job is done.
Pikmin 3’s main story is split up into days with a day and night cycle. When you approach the end of the day, you’ll basically need to stop what you’re doing and get back to the ship, trying to bring as many Pikmin back as you can. There’s liable to be loads of idlers dotted around, but tapping A on the ship can bring everyone in radius to you. Once the sun goes down, though, your ship sets off and anyone left is left to fend for themselves.
There’s a real sense of heartbreak attached to not finding that one Pikmin and being forced to leave them behind. Especially when you’re forced to watch them get eaten.
As you progress, there are certain time-limited tasks you need to do within confines of the day but for the most part the world is yours to explore and do as much – or as little – as you can during each day. you’ll need to do various things to survive.
Of course, with the game coming from Wii U, the game has to do a bit more work with the Koppad – the game’s menu and information system. Previously that was always displayed on the GamePad while Pikmin 3 plays out on the big screen. But the game was always kind of set up for this when you had it in Off-TV play. It does mean you can’t have a live recreation of the map as you play but being able to pause the action to look at it almost works better anyway.
Basically, you’re not missing much not having the game on Wii U, though, interestingly the Switch version doesn’t seem to have vastly improved resolution with the game still running at 30fps. Not a big issue really as the game is incredibly busy with up to 100 Pikmin possible on a screen at a time, and I’d rather the game run smoothly than keep hiccuping trying to keep at 60fps. But this might surprise some people.
That’s not where this Deluxe version benefits, of course. Added in here are brand new Side Stories which allow for you to play as Olimar and Louie. These are essentially treasure hunts where you earn medals for how much you bring back to ship, offering up a Prologue and Epilogue to Pikmin 3. We have the beginning which explains how Olimar comes into the Pikmin 3 story and the Epilogue, which, tells you some things after the credits rolled.
This is probably the biggest selling point of the Deluxe package for those who’ve already played and beat Pikmin 3 – the Side Stories do add some more context to the narrative. It’s an arguable point as to whether it’s enough to double-dip, but there’s also the inclusion of co-op throughout the story, which is a brilliant, natural inclusion for the game.
Basically, you can now have a friend jump in and control one of the other crew members, which certainly increases productivity and really fulfills a concept that was basically being leaned into by the original game anyway. Why have AI do something you could just as easily do yourself, right?
The other interesting new addition are some control tweaks which now let you scroll through your targets a lot more easily than before at the tap of a button, and you can also charge walls without being locked on now, which just makes much more sense.
I guess you could call this something of a director’s cut for Pikmin 3. The Deluxe Edition isn’t a huge visual upgrade but it makes up for it in just about every other department with the UI tweaks and additional content.
So, it’s pretty simple, if you’ve never played Pikmin 3 – or if this is even your first time with the series – this Deluxe Edition is the perfect entry point. I’d love to see the first two games brought across as well at some point – they were remade for the Wii and used the Remote very effectively, so the JoyCon could definitely work – but Pikmin 3 is the series highlight anyway, so you’d be starting off on a high.
As to whether Deluxe edition does quite enough to tempt back previous players, with no visual upgrades to speak of and how good those side stories actually are, is another matter entirely. If nothing else, it’s a fantastic excuse to play a great game, but when you look at how much effort seems to be going into the Super Mario 3D World Switch port next year, you do wonder if Nintendo could have perhaps offered players just a little bit more to dive back in.
+ The best Pikmin yet is better than ever
+ Full campaign co-op feels like it should have been in from the start
+ Side Stories offer an Epilogue to the events of Pikmin 3
+ Some nice UI tweaks to make the experience more accessible
– Graphics haven’t been massively overhauled
– Nintendo haven’t done quite enough to tempt Wii U players back in
Pikmin 3: Deluxe is now available on Switch
Code kindly provided by Nintendo
Tested on Switch