An underrated gem shines once again on the Switch.
Pretty much since the day the Nintendo Switch first launched, this has been something of a trend, and one that works out very well for Nintendo almost without fail. They take a beloved game from the library of the failed console that was the Wii U, bring it over with some additional bells and whistles to the infinitely more successful Switch, and reap the rewards. From Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to New Super Mario U Deluxe to – soon enough – Super Mario 3D World, Nintendo has more or less scoured the Wii U’s entire lineup, identified the games that are worth a damn, and made them available to larger audiences on the Switch in hopes of seeing greater success than their original releases.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is another in that ever-growing lineup of games, and true to form, it provides the best way to play this underappreciated Wii U gem. Combining the best of both its predecessors – the time constraints of the first game and the more exploration-heavy nature of Pikmin 2 – Pikmin 3 on the Wii U was in many ways the culmination of the franchise up until that point, and was unfairly let down by the low sales of its consoles and the relatively niche nature of the Pikmin franchise itself. Now, over seven years later, on the Nintendo Switch, Pikmin 3’s greatest strengths stand out just as much as they did years ago, thanks to a combination of the game’s own unique strategy gameplay, a number of minor tweaks and quality of life improvements, and some new content to dive into.
"Pikmin 3 Deluxe provides the best way to play this underappreciated Wii U gem."
Of those, the changes that make the most impact are, surprisingly enough, not the additional content, but the quality of life tweaks, which work to strengthen the foundations of what’s already an immensely enjoyable game. Pikmin 3’s core loop and its blend of strategy, action, and exploration remains as fun and engaging as ever, but with the Switch release’s minor tweaks and improvements here and there, the moment-to-moment gameplay has become even easier to get addicted to. For instance, controlling Pikmin 3 Deluxe feels smooth and seamless, with the option to either control the game solely with button inputs, with gyroscopic aiming, or a combination of both.
Most notably, the lock-on mechanic has been made much snappier and much more responsive. Rather than having to aim with your cursor and then press the lock-on button, you now simply lock on to enemies with a press of the right trigger, and cycle through enemies by pressing it repeatedly. Switching between enemies and objects that you’re locked on to becomes much easier as a process, allowing the moment-to-moment gameplay become more fluid, which is especially important in a game such as this one.
You can now also bring up a menu during gameplay that allows you to sort your Pikmin or cycle between leaders of groups, while charging now also much more intuitive, thanks to greater control over the direction of the charge and over which Pikmin exactly will be charging at enemies. There are also Badges to collect in Pikmin 3 Deluxe, which is essentially an in-game achievements system, and collecting more Badges increases your rank as a player. This one in particular doesn’t have any major impact on the experience, of course, but the game-wide progression still acts as a nice little bonus.
"Pikmin 3’s core loop and its blend of strategy, action, and exploration remains as fun and engaging as ever, but with the Switch release’s minor tweaks and improvements here and there, the moment-to-moment gameplay has become even easier to get addicted to."
Difficulty has also been addressed in Pikmin 3, most notably with a selection of three difficulty options, with Normal being the easiest of the bunch and the one that’s friendliest and most accessible to newcomers, and Ultra Spicy, with its stricter time limits and more durable enemies, serving as the perfect difficulty to jump into for Pikmin veterans who’re looking for a bit of a challenge. Interestingly enough, you can also press up on the d-pad at anytime to get hints and tips from the game about where you should be going and what you should be doing. It’s a small addition, and one that many players probably won’t engage with all that much, but if you’re a newcomer to the series, it will probably be a pretty handy tool.
As far as content is concerned, on top of the base game (and of course) and its post-launch DLCs, Pikmin 3 Deluxe also adds new Side Missions. Putting players in the shoes of series darlings Olimar and Louie, these missions act as a prologue and an epilogue for the main story. More content is always good to have, and given the core strengths of Pikmin 3 as a game, it would have been impossible not to enjoy these Side Missions.
That said, I routinely found them to be much less engaging than the main story. The focus on exploration is noticeably tapered back in these missions, especially seeing as exploring the environments when you actually have the time to do so can be so rewarding in the story missions. Meanwhile, Pikmin 3 also adds a co-op mode- though it’s a bit disappointing that it entails local split-screen gameplay only. Here’s hoping that feature gets added in after launch at some point.
"Visually, Pikmin 3 isn’t necessarily going to win any awards for its technical proficiency, but thanks to the game’s beautiful and colourful look, it’s still a rather good looking game."
Visually, Pikmin 3 isn’t necessarily going to win any awards for its technical proficiency, but thanks to the game’s beautiful and colourful look, it’s still a rather good looking game. It is a shame that there doesn’t seem to be an option for 60 FPS gameplay in here, while the resolution is also the same as what it was when the game launched for the Wii U. That said, to its credit, Pikmin 3 does keep its frame rate steady and strong.
Pikmin might not be a heavyweight franchise like The Legend of Zelda and Mario, but Pikmin 3 is the perfect game to illustrate the fact that this series deserves more love and recognition than it has traditionally enjoyed in the past. At this point, there’s no telling when Pikmin 4 will launch, or if it even exists anymore- but Pikmin 3 is an excellent reminder of this series’ greatest strengths. Naturally then, Pikmin 3 Deluxe, which is the best way to play this game, is unmissable for series fans, and an excellent opportunity to jump back in for those who’ve already dabbled with Pikmin in the past. I do wish that the game had more visual and performance enhancements to speak of, but Pikmin 3 Deluxe still excels in the one area that counts most- the fun factor.
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.
Quality of life improvements; Core gameplay is as fun as ever.
No online co-op; Side Missions aren't as engaging as the main story.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe improves what was already a great game in small but smart ways.