Report Card: Pikmin 3 Deluxe (Review)

Nintendo has made it a habit to port WiiU games over to the Switch.  I understand that not everyone is like me, and many people did not have the WiiU.  Many people did not have the chance to experience the amazing first party games released on that system.  Even with that in mind, I often feel that so many ports aren’t worth the cost.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the first WiiU port that had me very torn about buying it.  I already owned the original, but I never made it through it.  Maybe I would play it more on the Switch.  Maybe the Deluxe version would have something extra that is worth it.  I knew it would have some extra levels, but I also hoped for little improvements along the way.

As expected, this game looks beautiful on the Switch.  Nintendo somehow just knows how to make games look amazing even though their hardware is less powerful than the competition’s.  All the characters look cute and crisp.  The Pikmin are bright and even cuter.  The large pieces of fruit look delicious.  I feel the gold standard of graphics is determined by how the water looks.  Guess what, the water looks perfect.  Even though the graphics are better on the Switch, that is hardly a selling point to buy it again.  The WiiU version, as limited as it was, was still beautiful. 

In handheld mode, where it’s only displayed at 720P, the game still looks great.  The downside here is that everything is so small.  The Pikmin, which are tiny creatures already, are extremely small on the Switch screen.  The first time I played in handheld, it felt like a strain on my eyes.  Quickly I was able to play comfortably.   

From playing the demo, I knew the controls in Pikmin 3 Deluxe were slightly different than the original.  On the WiiU, you were able to control the aiming using a stylus on the gamepad.  I liked aiming it this way.  On the Switch, your only choice is aiming with the left stick.  At first, this really annoyed me.  I hate moving a cursor around the screen in any game.  As much as it bothered me, I quickly became acclimated to it and was over my frustration.

Another control change is the ability to lock onto items, enemies, etc.  This might be the most important improvement they made.  I cannot tell you how many times I would miss an enemy because my aim would be slightly over them.  Now, all I have to do is lock on and let the little Pikmin fly.  It really did feel like a game changer, especially when you are fighting against the clock.

As I mentioned before, the Pikmin are the cutest characters.  They might be the cutest things Nintendo has ever created.  They follow you around.  They have these little sounds when you throw them.  They carry items 10 times their own size.  They help you and you just want them to be happy.  This legitimately makes it sad when one dies.  You can see them get eaten, or squished, and their little ghosts float up.  By the end of the story, 399 Pikmin had made the ultimate sacrifice for my team.

The variety of Pikmin adds cuteness and helps build the game puzzles.  From the First Pikmin game, you will find Red (the fighters of the group), Yellow (electrical and best diggers), and Blue (the swimmers) Pikmin.  New to Pikmin 3 are Rock Pikmin, who can break glass, and Winged Pikmin that can fly.  Each type of Pikmin has its own specialty, and you must decide how many of each Pikmin to take with you to be able to complete the day’s task.  Luckily, you always have the ability to return to the ship to trade out for different types

The uses for the different Pikmin types is another place that Pikmin 3 Deluxe shines.  Throughout the game there will be different barriers to break through, streams to cross, bridges to build, and enemies to take down.  If you do not have the correct types of Pikmin with you, you might not be able to break a barrier, might take longer to complete the task, or might even drown the little guys. 

The game puzzles are not just about the specific Pikmin.  Some puzzles require you to figure out how to get one of the characters, along with specific Pikmin, to a location they can’t just walk to.  Although these are often straight forward, some optional puzzles took a bit of thinking,

The story in Pikmin 3 is not super important but still enjoyable.  As with previous games, the crew has crashed landed on what appears to be Earth.  The team was sent to the planet to bring back fruit and treasures to their king.  Now, you must get the three team members back together and repair the ship.  Although not the most exciting story, there are plenty of little things that happen that will make you smile.

There are multiple areas that the team must explore to find the missing members and pieces.  Along the way, they must collect enough fruit for sustenance.  As long as you have enough fruit juice for the next day, you can continue on.  In the Original Pikmin game, you only had 30 days to complete all tasks.  I found this overly stressful.  In Pikmin 3 Deluxe, you have an unlimited number of days.  At the end of each day, the team must get the Pikmin back to their ship or they will be eaten.  Luckily, you can call all Pikmin back to you when you are at the ship.

At the end of each area, there will be a boss fight.  These fights often lasted a while and I had to make sure I had enough time left in the day to take them down.  There were a couple times I would need to abandon the boss to make sure I didn’t lose all my Pikmin.  Luckily, any progress I made in a boss fight was still there when I returned the next day.  Maybe this feels cheap, but I appreciated this decision. 

It is important to ensure you have the correct Pikmin with you for each boss.  Some have glass that needs to be broken and the rock Pikmin are required.  Some have water attacks and the blue Pikmin are a must.  If I ever found myself by a boss, but didn’t have the correct Pikmin, it was easy to go back and just get who I needed.  In one of the later boss fights, I needed an even amount of each one.  Luckily, the ship was close by and I was able to grab more as required.

On top of a few control upgrades, Pikmin 3 Deluxe comes with extra side missions.  Your team is not the only ones from your planet that are there.  Somewhere, Olimar and Louie are running about.  Would you like to know what they are up to?  Now you can.  The side missions have you play out what they are doing.

These missions are a little different than the main story.  First of all, you are trying to complete specific tasks.  These could be finding treasure, finding fruit, taking out enemies, or just getting Olimar and Louie back together.  Each side mission has a set goal and a specific amount of time to do it.  Depending on how well you do, you’ll earn bronze, silver, goal, or platinum.  If you reach requirements for platinum before the time is up, the mission is over.

I really enjoyed the side missions.  They gave me a break from the main game and changed things up a little.  Some were extremely easy.  Others took me multiple times to figure out how to attack the situation.  The ticking clock adds a bit of a stressor, but not in a way that I found upsetting.  Overall, I found the side stories to be a great way to add some value to the game.

To add just a bit more content, Nintendo has put in three extra styles of missions.  Each of these are time and goal-based missions.  In Collect Treasures mode, you use your Pikmin to find and return all the treasure in the area.  Each piece is worth a specific value, and your score is based on the total value at the end of the allotted time.  The Battle Enemies mode is similar, except you are awarded a specific amount of points for each enemy your Pikmin take down.

Defeat Boss mode is opened as you defeat bosses in the story mode.  You basically get to go back and fight the bosses in the same fight over again.  You are supplied with the Pikmin you need and there will be flowers around to change Pikmin colors as needed.  What bugged me about this mode was that it is the same boss fights that you have already conquered.  If anything, they will be easier now because you know you have the Pikmin you need.  I guess you can just use this as bragging rights if you can beat the bosses faster than your friends. 

Throughout the story and side missions, it is helpful to have one character take Pikmin for one task while another goes after a different task.  This can be done by swapping between characters, or you can grab a friend and play co-op.  I only tried this once but it’s a nice addition for those who have a capable friend around.

There is no doubt that two able players could get through the game about 25% faster.  Also, they would make easy work of most bosses.  That being said, I never felt like I needed the help.  I believe the best situation for this mode is if you have a child who just needs the help.  Either way, Nintendo has given us another game that can bring us back to the couch co-op days.

The bottom line is that Pikmin 3 Deluxe is a very fun and lighthearted game.  For any Nintendo fan who missed this on the WiiU, the game is a must-play.  If you played it on WiiU, I still think the game is worth picking up.  The added side missions and control improvements add enough value.  Pikmin 3 Deluxe is cute, fun, and just difficult enough to be for kids and adults alike. 

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