The beloved series brings its greatest adventure to the Nintendo Switch, and it looks full of new features that hit the mark.
I don't know anybody who has played a (mainline) Pikmin game and who didn't fall in love with the series forever. The light strategy adventure that sprouted on the Gamecube and grew into a trilogy of titles that is one of the most beautiful, eco-friendly, and delightful experiences one can enjoy on a console, and one of the very best new creations from Nintendo in the last couple of decades.
Its third entry, which released on the Wii U, acted as a narrative sequel and is more like the definitive Pikmin experience - a fully-developed game that explored the maturity of the concept by taking the best of the first two Gamecube titles (and their Wii adaptations) and building from there with creative ideas and added depth. I would say it's a standalone, but now it's releasing on the Nintendo Switch as one of the most anticipated and natural Deluxe adaptations.
As we play to bring you a full review before its October 30 release and considering this is a well-known game that will finally get the chance to resonate with the audience it deserves, I took a couple of notes from our first hours of adventuring that I'd like to share (mostly referring to how this version compares to the original).
First of all, the game has aged nicely in the last seven years. It is true some of the menus and buttons look a bit outdated (even harking back to the Wii times), but once you're in-game and have left the uglier snowy starting area, it fills your TV or handheld screen with a gorgeous diorama full of life and colour. It looks like it got the 720p to 1080p (TV) and 480p to 720p (handheld) update treatment we've come to expect from the Deluxe games, and even though some of the textures remain blurry, others are incredibly detailed and some models (such as fruits) make you want to pluck them from the screen.
Pikmin is an accessible RTS experience, but it gets complex and offers a whole range of ways to approach missions pretty early in the game. This is why Nintendo's typical hand-holding (with added clues, difficulty levels, and QoL improvements) doesn't feel like a chore here, and you'll welcome the tips and action reminders even if you're a seasoned explorer. Also, keep in mind this was a game designed for the Wii U Gamepad, so checking the KopPad menu system for map and info won't feel as natural.
The new features included with this version make the most sense and will certainly add some value to the package. Above all, being able to drop in and out of two-player co-op at any time during the main adventure will both give a reason to replay and invite newcomers to share, and it is a game-changer in tactical terms when it comes to how you approach tasks.
Other than that, the new side missions are the main addition, and even if I can't tell you much about the prologue and epilogue coming with this game just yet, if you played the original Pikmin 3 you more or less have an idea of what Olimar and Louie were up to before Alph, Brittany and Charlie crashed into PNF-404.
As this new version of the game also adds all the DLC and a new "Ultra-Spicy" super hard difficulty mode for veterans, there's a lot I'm loving so far about Pikmin 3 Deluxe, but at the same time, I also have one concern about its controls.
Don't get me wrong, the traditional, stick-based controls work fine, and the lock-on system on any control mode has been improved compared to the original. However, I'm a sucker for motion/pointer controls, and I don't feel as comfortable with how Nintendo has translated them to the Switch controllers. It might be occasional and I'll keep an eye on it, but frequently my gyro-based pointer got stuck with the scenery as if it was trying to snap to objects, and I didn't remember this from the IR-based Wii Remote pointer, not seven years ago, nor yesterday when I played on the Wii U for comparison. You can decide, even if you use the gyro, whether the cursor will be "forced" to the stick direction or if you want free pointer control like on Wii/U, but even on the latter, it didn't feel as smooth.
You can, of course, reset the pointer's centre with R (like you can in Mario Galaxy), and it's great to use the right stick to move the camera (something we couldn't do with the Wiimote + Nunchuk combination), but as it seemed to work fine during yesterday's Nintendo Treehouse Live (see below), we'll have to evaluate if this ruins some intense moments during the longer adventure. Many players will just use the default stick-based settings, but you have to understand that the freedom introduced by the New Play Control versions of the first two games for the Wii was like a dream come true for returning Pikmin fans.
I played for 20 hours and 64 in-game days in the original Pikmin 3, and it looks like this one is going to make me play that and more. We'll go through all the new features in greater detail and see how the gyro pointer behaves before giving a final verdict on this otherwise must-have adventure for the Switch.