Pikmin 3 Deluxe Review
Collect fruit and defeat enemies with the help of colorful Pikmin!
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is an updated Switch version of Pikmin 3, which was originally released on the Wii U back in 2013. We had the chance to check out this new Switch version of the game.
What is Pikmin 3 Deluxe about?
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the follow-up to the original Pikmin and Pikmin 2, which were released on GameCube in the early 2000s. In Pikmin 3 Deluxe, you’ll follow a trio of explorers on their quest to save their home planet of Koppai from starvation.
Our heroes, Alph, Brittany, and Charlie, have traveled to the strange planet of PNF-404 (the setting of the previous two games) in search of resources. However, they quickly become stranded on the planet, so you’ll need to help them repair their ship -- and collect food -- using the planet’s local inhabitants: Tiny, adorable creatures called Pikmin.
How is Pikmin 3 played?
Gameplay in Pikmin 3 Deluxe combines elements from multiple genres, such as action, strategy, and puzzle games. The game is played across a series of timed “days,” and during each day, you’ll need to command your Pikmin to complete tasks in order to collect fruit and other items, defeat enemies, and otherwise interact with the in-game environment. There’s a lot to do in each in-game area, and you’ll need to accomplish as much as you can in these areas before sunset on each day.
You’ll start the game by controlling only one of the game’s three main characters (Alph, Brittany, or Charlie) and a limited number of red or yellow Pikmin. However, as you progress, you’ll be able to build up a supply of hundreds of Pikmin, as well as unlock different varieties of these creatures. Plus, you’ll eventually be able to control all three explorers at once. (You can also complete the game’s story mode cooperatively with another player in the same room.)
Each type of Pikmin has different strengths. As a few examples, blue Pikmin can swim, pink Pikmin can fly, and red Pikmin are immune to fire. You’ll need to decide which Pikmin to use to accomplish each task.
Pikmin will automatically follow behind your explorers until you send them out to complete a task. When you find a piece of fruit, an enemy, or something else you can interact with, you can point your cursor at the item and toss Pikmin at it to tell them to interact with it. If you’ve used the right kind of Pikmin for the occasion, they’ll automatically go to work. When you tell Pikmin to collect an item (like a piece of fruit), they’ll also automatically take the item back to your ship and deposit it, allowing you to quickly move onto your next objective.
When you’re ready to bring nearby Pikmin back to your location, you can press and hold the B button to blow your whistle, though this only works over a short range (the longer you hold the B button, the greater distance you’ll cover). Pikmin that are too far away won’t hear the whistle and will simply stay where they are.
While you start with only a handful of Pikmin, you can generate more by having your Pikmin collect special discs (grown by flowers), as well as the bodies of the enemies you defeat (there’s no blood or gore to worry about). You can have almost 100 Pikmin in the in-game world with you at any one time, and you can swap Pikmin by returning to your ship if you need more of a certain kind, etc.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe guides you forward with a series of main quests to complete, but you can also freely explore levels (even areas you’ve previously visited), so long as you have enough juice on hand to feed your team at the end of the day. That is, the more fruit you collect and bring back to your spaceship, the more bottles of juice you’ll generate, and the more days you can play.
As you might expect, the overall gameplay in Pikmin 3 Deluxe starts out relatively simply, but it becomes more complex over time, eventually requiring you to split your three explorers into three separate teams that must work together to reach normally inaccessible areas or items. This is where the “puzzle” gameplay really comes forward, as you’ll need to analyze your environments and figure out how to use your three teams to clear each area.
Is Pikmin 3 Deluxe fun to play?
Overall, we really enjoy Pikmin 3 Deluxe. The Pikmin themselves are simply adorable, and it’s generally fun to explore each area to find all of the collectible items.
That being said, Pikmin 3 Deluxe isn’t an easy game (though it appears to be at first). For one, Pikmin can (and likely will) die under your care. They can be eaten or crushed by enemies, and certain varieties can even drown since they can’t swim. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to accidentally blow your whistle a little too aggressively and draw dozens of Pikmin into the water. When this happens, you can blow your whistle again to draw them out of the water, but if they’re too far from the shore, they’ll drown before they reach land.
You’re not technically penalized when Pikmin die, but when this happens, you’ll obviously have less Pikmin available to command. If you lose enough, you may need to take a trip back to your ship to bring more out of storage, which takes time. The in-game days go by a bit too quickly for our liking, so this is time you really can’t afford to waste.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe also features boss battles that can easily take up the majority of an in-game day. When bosses are killed, they drop very valuable pieces of fruit, but you may not actually have time to get the fruit back to the ship before the day ends. Thankfully, you can come back and collect the fruit the next day, but this ruins a bit of the excitement when you can’t immediately collect the spoils you’ve worked so hard for.
Along those same lines, if any Pikmin are outside of your care when the day ends, they’ll be killed by the wild animals that roam PNF-404. When sunset approaches, you have to stop whatever you’re doing and ensure all of your Pikmin are safe, which, again, feels like an unnecessary limitation.
Finally, the game allows you to “lock onto” items and enemies before you toss Pikmin at them in order to ensure you’re sending Pikmin to the right area. However, if you’re near multiple interactive items and enemies, you may find yourself frantically trying to lock on to the right one (likely the enemy) so that you can defeat it before your Pikmin are eaten.
Back on the positive side, Pikmin 3 Deluxe offers optional hints if you ever become stuck, and it also has multiple difficulty options to choose from. You can also restart your current day at any time (for instance, if you’ve lost lots of Pikmin), as well as travel back to any of the previous days you’ve completed if you’d like to try them again.
Overall, while there are some things about Pikmin 3 Deluxe we’d change, we still really like the game.
How is Pikmin 3 Deluxe different from the original version of the game?
In addition to adding support for local co-op in the game’s story mode, Deluxe also includes new Side Story missions starring Olimar and Louie (characters from previous Pikmin games), as well as all of the downloadable content (DLC) released for the original version of the game.
What’s the final verdict?
Even with its issues, we still really enjoy Pikmin 3 Deluxe. It does a good job of inspiring strategic thinking when it comes to solving puzzles and reaching collectible items, and the game’s difficulty curve grows slowly enough that players can get used to the game’s mechanics before things become too complicated.
At the same time, the gameplay here may not be for everyone -- especially littles -- as there are lots of tasks and actions to balance during each in-game day, and the experience may be too complex for some players. (The game is rated E10+ for Everyone 10+.)
If you’re concerned about whether or not your family will enjoy Pikmin 3 Deluxe, we recommend downloading the game’s free demo on Switch and trying it out before making a purchase.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is available now on Nintendo Switch. The game is rated E10+ for Everyone 10+ by the ESRB.
Disclosure: Nintendo gave SuperParent a code for Pikmin 3 Deluxe for coverage purposes.