Preview: Pikmin 3 Deluxe
Pikmin is alive! After spending seven years on ice (we don’t talk about Hey! Pikmin), the series is finally back in the form of Pikmin 3 Deluxe. I know, it’s not Pikmin 4 — which I’m sure will be completed any day now, right Miyamoto? — but it is something. It’s still a few weeks until Pikmin 3 Deluxe launches, but I’ve spent about a week or so with the game so far — and I’m having a lot of fun with it — and I’m ready to drop some A’s to your Q’s. Let’s get stuck in.
What is it?
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is an enhanced port of Pikmin 3, which originally launched on the Wii U all the way back in 2013. A time-focused management/exploration game, it’s a sequel to Pikmin 1 and 2. As with every Pikmin game, you’ll spend a lot of time collecting Pikmin (little plant creatures), throwing Pikmin at various enemies and objects, and waiting for your Pikmin to take things back to your base. It can be pretty stressful at times, when you’re low on time and you’ve just lost a few dozen Pikmin in a particularly tough fight, but most of the time it’s a pretty chill experience.
Pikmin 3 itself brings a lot of new features, coming from Pikmin 2; including two new Pikmin types — rock Pikmin and flying Pikmin — three new captains, each of whom can be controlled separately and concurrently letting you get more done in a day, and a competitive mode called Bingo Battle.
So what about the Deluxe version? Well, the big headliner here is a full splitscreen co-op mode for the ENTIRE story mode, and for Side Stories too. That’s a big deal, and it works very well — with a few caveats I’ll mention a little lower down. There’s also a few new Side Stories (which I can’t talk about), a few additions here and there in the story (which I also can’t talk about), and online leaderboards for Mission Mode. Which, you know, I can talk about, but it’s literally just a leaderboard so…
Deluxe also adds some tough new difficulty options, with a “Hard” difficulty unlocked from the get-go, and an extra-hard “Ultra-Spicy” difficulty unlocked after you beat the game on Hard — though it sounds like you can also unlock it by playing through the game’s demo and transferring your save data to the main game. I haven’t had the opportunity to check out Ultra-Spicy yet, but I can confirm that even Hard is quite challenging, especially when facing bosses.
And finally, there’s a few small changes here and there to adapt the game to a single screen. The KopPad functions — previously on the Gamepad on Wii U — are now mapped to the Minus button, which brings up a screen overlay that’s basically what you’d have seen on the Gamepad. They’ve also added a helpful little minimap, because previously that’d be on the Gamepad and again, there’s no Gamepad on the Switch. The Piklopedia has been added from Pikmin 2, as well… but that’s all I can say on the matter, except for showing this single screenshot from it.
How does it play?
Normally this section would be titled “How does it run?” but let’s face it, it’s a Pikmin game — it wasn’t exactly a graphical powerhouse of a game on Wii U, and it isn’t here either. It looks great and runs smoothly, both in Docked and Handheld modes, and performance is perfectly fine in splitscreen co-op too. On that topic, it’s worth noting that the splitscreen isn’t exactly perfect from a gameplay perspective. It’s serviceable, sure, and you should have no troubles playing through the entire game with it, but there’s a surprising amount of gameplay in Pikmin 3 that benefits from having a slightly wider field of view. There’s just a few small things here and there that are juuuust off to the side of the screen that you would’ve noticed had you been playing solo.
In terms of controls, I think Pikmin 3 Deluxe does a perfectly serviceable job, too. You can play with a Pro Controller, split Joy-Con, or even with a single Joy-Con — and all of these options are available to both players in co-op as well, instead of forcing you into using a single Joy-Con each like certain other games. I will say, however, that playing with Joy-Con, or in handheld or the Switch Lite for that matter, can be a bit frustrating — the shorter travel of the Joy-Con/Lite’s analogue sticks means that aiming your cursor accurately can be a bit tough. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but I’d definitely suggest using a Pro Controller when docked, or maybe picking up a pair of Hori Split Pad Pros for handheld play. Just something to think about.
Who’s it for?
If you enjoyed Pikmin 1 and 2, and like most people didn’t have a Wii U to play the third, then Pikmin 3 Deluxe is absolutely for you. It’s all the Pikmin fun you know and love, with a fresh coat of paint and some charming new gameplay features. If you have played Pikmin 3 before, then Deluxe’s new Side Stories, new features, and expanded difficulty options are definitely a good enough reason to jump back in, in my opinion.
If you’ve never played a Pikmin game before, 3 is as good a place as any to jump in. There’s no strictly necessary story stuff you’re missing out on here, and whatever is important gets explained to you. There’s also a really robust tutorial, which should help you learn just about everything you need to know about huckin’ ‘Min. I really would encourage new players to give it a go, too; it can get stressful at times, and you’re probably going to game over on your first playthrough, but there’s really nothing else like the Pikmin series on the planet, and it’s such a lovely, charming game.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe launches on the Nintendo Switch eShop and at retail on the 30th of October. You can click here to preorder it on the eShop, or find yourself a bargain at retail by clicking here to check out our Bargain Roundup.