Pikmin 4 Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
While it retains most of the hallmarks that made its predecessors so iconic, Pikmin 4 succeeds in breathing new life into the franchise.
- Developer: Nintendo EPD
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release Date: July 21, 2023
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Tested On: Nintendo Switch
- Exceptional Level Design
- Unique Pikmin Abilities
- New Oatchi Gameplay
- Engaging Puzzles
- Too Much Handholding In The Beginning
- Longer Loading Times
- Repetitive Night Expeditions
At this point in time, fans of Nintendo should be no strangers to the beloved Pikmin franchise. While not as well known as some of its other series like Mario or Pokemon, it has an important place in the hearts of those who grew up with it.
And with this latest installment in the series, players are tasked with the rescue of Captain Olimar as they try to make their way across a mysterious new planet. So learn all about it and more in our Pikmin 4 Review.
Story And Setting
This time around in the series, the story and setting take a bit of a turn as you don’t control Captain Olimar in Pikmin 4. Olimar instead has sent out distress signals from a mysterious planet, and a group is sent out in order to rescue him. The rescuers crash land on the planet, and we step into the shoes of one of these rescuers as a member of the Rescue Corps. We get to name our character and customize them as well, as we set foot in the vast world of Pikmin 4, accompanied by our alien dog Oatchi.
The main story is subdivided into three major objectives that are nicely overarching with each other. The first objective is to repair our spaceship that was destroyed during the crash. The second objective is to locate and rescue the missing members of the Rescue Corps. Last but not least, we also have to eventually rescue Captain Olimar.
Although it is never admitted in the game, it is eluded in various ways that the ‘mysterious planet’ is just someone’s garden. You can spot real-life gardening objects all throughout the levels of the game, and the various levels such as the garden or the kitchen put into perspective how small the player is in this huge world.
The premise for the Pikmin games has always been simple and straightforward, and the gameplay is where these games truly shine. We will take an in-depth look at its various gameplay elements in the next section of our Pikmin 4 Review.
Pikmin 4 is a lot like its predecessors but with a fresh coat of paint on it. The core gameplay mechanics still remain the same. You control the tiny creatures known as Pikmin and traverse the levels while multitasking with a whole team of them. There is a lot of variety among the Pikmin that you control, and they are color-coded according to their respective types.
The most common version is the Red Pikmin that you control for normal work, and these are also the Pikmin that handle fire. Blue Pikmin handle water as they can swim and dive, allowing you to get past water bodies. Similarly, Yellow Pikmin have an affinity with electricity. Then we have the Light Blue Pikmin that have Ice abilities, and there are also some specialist Pikmin such as the White Pikmin and the Pink Pikmin who have poison-resistant and flying abilities, respectively. But these last two are rarely used in the game and you only need them for a few puzzles.
There are a lot of environmental puzzles that put each type of Pikmin in the spotlight, but there is a clear bias for the new Ice Pikmin that is introduced with this game. Overall though, the puzzles perfectly encapsulate and showcase the abilities of all the Pikmin, allowing you to understand everything these little creatures are capable of.
Pikmin aren’t the only creatures you command, however, this time you also control your canine friend Oatchi as well. He packs the same punch as multiple Pikmin, and you can command him to do tasks for you throughout the levels. This comes in really handy when all your Pikmin are occupied with one aspect of a puzzle, so you can utilize Oatchi for dealing with the other tasks.
Oatchi doesn’t only provide help with problem-solving, though. You can use him as a mount as well, allowing you to cover distance much faster throughout the levels. Moreover, this ability also helps you round up your Pikmin as well. When you mount Oatchi, all the nearby Pikmin will attach themselves to its fur, allowing you to see if you have any stragglers left behind. It also just acts as a good way to gather your team when you need them in one place.
This isn’t where Oatchi’s functionality ends. He is also very helpful in combat scenarios as well, more than you would think. The way combat works in the game is that you fling Pikmin at the enemies and they deal their effects and damage to that enemy. The drawback of this approach is that you have to manually fling each Pikmin one by one, which can be inefficient and might cause you to lose some Pikmin in the process in most cases. This is where Oatchi comes in.
Remember how the Pikmin cling to Oatchi’s fur whenever you mount him? Whenever you charge into battle with Oatchi, he slings all of the creatures attached to him at once toward the enemies. This is a much more efficient way of going about combat and helps you retain your Pikmin.
There are multiple levels that you must traverse as efficiently as possible using your Pikmin within a given amount of time, and you must clear each area before the sun goes down and gather as many materials as possible. The level design in Pikmin 4 is really remarkable, and each is laid out in a manner where you must min-max your traversal in order to gather all the things you need.
At the end of the day, you will have the option to do the day again in case you missed something you really needed. There is also an accessibility feature that allows you to rewind time. This feature comes in handy for times when you accidentally lose more Pikmin than you wanted to.
Throughout the series, the formula was that you venture out during the day and come back before sunset as it got really dangerous for your Pikmin to be out there after that time. But in this entry, they have embraced the idea of that danger and have given the players the opportunity to face it head-on. You can venture out at night time and face the wild creatures of the night with the help of your Glowmin, which are Glowing Green Pikmin. This mode is different from the usual comfy nature of Pikmin as it cranks up the stress levels. Here, you have to defend your base from wild creatures that have come to attack it.
During the campaign, you will also come across Dandori battles. These are an interesting way to spice things up throughout the levels. During these, your screen will be split in half as you face off against another team in a race to get more points. You can gather points by gathering various enemy bodies or treasures as you race against time to get the most points.
One thing worth mentioning regarding the starting hours of Pikmin 4 is that the game feels incredibly constricted as the game holds your hand through these sequences. Once you understand the basic mechanics of the game, it feels like your ability to play the game is hindered by these menus and tutorials trying to teach you what you already understand. But once you get past that stage, it is extremely fun to play and explore on your own.
Visuals And Performance
When it comes to the visuals of the game, it totally holds up today with its bright level design and art direction. The character models seem full of life and the animations are crisp. It has the same standard of quality that one can expect from a Nintendo title. The soundtrack perfectly compliments the jolly nature of the game as well, while also switching it up to be eerie and stressful during the night expeditions.
Pikmin 4 ran perfectly well on the Nintendo Switch OLED throughout my playthrough of the game. The one small nitpick that I can make regarding the performance would be the long loading times the game has. Other than that, I encountered no issues or bugs while playing the game.
Pikmin 4 breathes new life into the beloved franchise. The game retains the main gameplay of its predecessors, but many new and fascinating components have also been introduced. New Pikmin have been added to the game, along with our canine companion, Oatchi. As we discussed in the gameplay section, players now have access to some brand-new gameplay mechanics as well.
The game has it all. From stunning level design, challenging puzzles, and side missions to optional dungeon-like caves to explore. Despite some initial assistance, the game shines when you are able to explore on your own and solve any challenges it throws at you. Pikmin 4 delivers an enjoyable and engaging gameplay experience and is the perfect place for newcomers to the series to start.
This has been our Pikmin 4 Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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