Nintendo's quest to shift the greatest of the Wii U's catalogue over to the Switch is nearing its end, and fortunately, one of the platform's most delightful titles has not been left in the dark. Pikmin 3 originally launched back in 2013 and helped build upon its predecessors by adding multiple squads for players to micromanage and even more species of the little plant-like people. The newly-released Deluxe Edition helps to bulk out its offering even further by adding local co-op, two new side stories, and all of the title's previous DLC.
In the story, you learn that your home planet of Koppai has had its food supply completely depleted due to increased appetites and a rising population. After several fruitless attempts to uncover food using scout vessels, three brave explorers venture out to scour the planet of PNF-404. After traveling for 279,000 light-years and preparing to land, the crew's ship malfunctions, and they are scattered across the surface of the planet. It is your goal then to regroup with your team using the help of Pikmin, little micro-sized creatures that will follow your every command and can be used to perform a variety of tasks.
If you haven't played a Pikmin game before, then allow me to explain the basics. Pikmin is perhaps best described as a light RTS title where you control many different variants of the titular creatures to solve puzzles and take down foes within the environment. The story is divided up into days and players only have a very set amount of time to achieve their objectives before the day is concluded. Players must also ensure that they scout the area and bring back an ample supply of food to their ship to ensure the crew has been fed.
Pikmin come in many different forms and you'll have to ensure that your team is filled with enough of a particular type to clear obstacles ahead. Rock Pikmin, for example, can shatter crystals, Blue Pikmin can go underwater without taking damage, and Yellow Pikmin can be used to deactivate electrical gates. One thing I loved about the huge boss battles was that, as well as being a visual splendour, they tasked you with using your Pikmin's different abilities. The first boss, for example, a giant insect with a crystal-like exoskeleton requires you to throw Rock Pikmin to shatter its exterior before sending in Red Pikmin to attack.
Differing from the previous two Pikmin games, players can now control three different squads of Pikmin and will have to often toggle between different groups to solve puzzles. You'll find uncrossable areas in the world where you'll need to throw another squad leader and several Pikmin to clear the path ahead. Here, you need to be strategic in ensuring that each group has a balanced set of Pikmin to conquer what's ahead and need to be wary of nearby predators. This is an area where the new drop in and out co-op function works really well, as players can take command of these individual groups independently in split-screen.
The environments from the different regions of the planet are gorgeous and it very rarely occurred to me that this was a seven-year-old Wii U game. It also makes the transition to the Switch remarkably well as everything functions perfectly on the single screen without feeling cluttered. Back on the Wii U, the gamepad was mainly used for switching between different squads and being used as a secondary map, but squads can be easily switched here by pressing and holding down the Y button. Pikmin 3 wonderfully lends itself to short bursts of handheld play too as its days only last roughly 15 minutes and there's a variety of different casual modes that can be enjoyed outside of the main campaign.
As I mentioned previously, there are two brief side stories that can be unlocked through playing the campaign, and the one I particularly liked was Olimar's Assignment. This acts as a prequel to Pikmin 3 and has more of an arcade feel to it, as you need to get the highest score by collecting as many fruits and treasures as you can before the time runs out. It is pretty short as it only spans over four different days, but I found that due to its arcade feel it was addictive and it was tempting to keep jumping in to see if I could beat my high score.
Another fun inclusion is that all previous DLC has been packaged into the Deluxe Edition. Players can engage in time-limited battles with previous bosses, they can race to collect treasure and defeat a certain number of enemies within an allotted time. These modes are great for a breather and a short burst of fun when you're feeling burnout on the campaign. There's also, of course, Bingo Battle. This is a genius multiplayer mode where players must compete to fill out the many enemies and fruits displayed on their bingo cards. Things here can get so fiercely competitive and it's just such a creative way of adapting Pikmin's gameplay into a player vs player style. Sadly though, Bingo Battle cannot be played solo and there's no option for online co-op, so you'll need to have a friend present to play.
I think it's pretty clear that I had a blast with Pikmin 3 Deluxe, but I still question whether it's worth the full price of admission for those that have already played. Sure, it's a no-brainer for those that have yet to have jumped in, but it's essentially the same core game that was released seven years ago on the Wii U platform. Granted, this isn't an issue specific to this particular port, as all previous Wii U titles have done the exact same, but £49.99 does feel a little hefty to part with if you've already played your way through the bulk of the experience.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe helps to build on the strength of an already excellent release by adding heaps more great content to extend its mileage. Co-op within its campaign feels like a natural fit, the DLC is some good mindless fun, and I had a great time playing through the Olimar's Assignment side story. My main issue, however, is that I am unsure whether these additions alone would warrant those who have already played to pick it up again at full price. That said, if you're like the many of us who didn't own a Wii U console, I would highly recommend that you pick this one up, even if you haven't been acquainted with the RTS genre.
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