- Released: 2020
- Played on: Switch
- Also available on: n/a
- Time to get into: 15 Minutes
- Time to complete: 13 Hours
- Multiplayer: Yes, local only
Pikmin 3 is a typical Nintendo game – simple but engaging gameplay, bright colours everywhere and a story that just about holds it all together but not much more. Being such both helps and hinders the game. You play as one of three space travelers from the planet Koppai, who are on a mission to find more food for their struggling home. In order to achieve that goal, and more besides, you enlist the help of the Pikmin – cute creatures of varying colours and abilities. On the one hand the exploration and light strategy elements of the gameplay are enough to keep the 20-or-so-minute gameplay loop – building up your army of Pikmin, defeating enemies and gathering fruit – interesting right through the length of the story. On the other hand, with little gaming challenge on the standard difficulty and a narrative that, whilst just intricate enough that you have to keep an eye on it, is not intricate enough to keep you engaged to the end, Pikmin 3 ends up at a bit of a stalemate with itself.
What’s good about it?
- There is no denying that Pikmin 3 is fun! Using a hoard of creatures to attack enemies and take loot back to base could also be a description for a much more serious strategy game but Pikmin 3 dresses all this up in cuteness and delight. Everything from the tiny faces of the different types of Pikmin to the sound of plucking them out of the ground when they have first grown is designed to put a smile on your face.
- Personifying the Pikmin works well too – these are not just expendable drones. The combination of only allowing up to 100 to be out with you in the world at any given time and the sounds of distress that they make when they are in trouble make you want to keep them as safe as you can.
- It’s that balance between the Pikmin being your weapons and also your friends that is the main strategy element of Pikmin 3. Other than choosing the right numbers of each colour for the tasks ahead that is about as deep as the strategy goes but it does make you stop and think. If you just charge out into the bright and colourful areas on the planet you’ll soon discover that it’s not as innocent as it seems.
- Co-op works really well. The Boy and I had a great time playing through the game together. Parts require working together, like getting to some areas for example (although you can still get to these places in single-player). Pikmin 3 finds a great balance between those elements and letting you just get on with tasks separately.
- The way in which each type of Pikmin is introduced over time means that the game opens up to you as you progress. For example, you will have noticed some things in areas of water that you want to investigate but until you get the blue Pikmin these things are out of reach. It’s a nice development curve that means even parts when you are retracing your steps seem new through the campaign.
- Each in-game day lasts around 20 minutes, which is perfect for pick-up-and-play when you have a few moments free. Pikmin 3 is well suited to that kind of thing as it relatively simple gameplay means you don’t need long sessions to get into it.
What’s bad about it?
- Pikmin 3‘s story really isn’t at all interesting. As I said at the start – there’s just enough to it that you have to pay some attention to what is going on but by and large it is very forgettable.
- It’s just a very simple game. There is little challenge to be found – not even really any bumps in the road where you might have to repeat some activities or anything like that. There are no particularly threatening enemies, even the bosses, and no puzzles that are too difficult. The very last level is a bit larger and thus can be slightly more tricky but even then patience is all that’s really required to get through it.
I can see Pikmin 3 working for pretty much every gamer but as a distraction, or a side-game if you will. This is the game you play when you’re not playing your main game, or are just looking for a more relaxing break from what you usually play. With that purpose in mind, Pikmin 3 works perfectly and the great co-op play and ideal length of each in-game day just add to that. Just don’t load it up expecting anything greater – this is a typical Nintendo game.