Hey! Pikmin Review – Written by Jose Vega
Product provided for this review by Nintendo
Nintendo has a knack for providing franchises the exposure they need and they do so via consoles and handhelds. Sometimes they work and other times can lead to a franchise dying out. The results vary but when it was announced that a new Pikmin game would be coming to the Nintendo 3DS, people were curious. Pikmin has had a few successes with its three main games with a strong reception, but the idea of a spin-off game seemed questionable. Eventually Hey! Pikmin would arrive but the big question is this: Does this spin off game hold its own compared to its main series? Or will this be another case of a franchise that ended due to an unexpected flop?
The story centers on Capt. Olimar, who is returning back after completing another assignment. During his trip, his ship gets struck by an asteroid and ends up crashing on an unknown planet. He learns that in order to fix his ship and get back home, he needs to seek out an energy source called Sparklium. But he won’t do it alone. The planet that he crashed in is home to Pikmin, little plant-like creatures that Olimar can use to complete his mission. With these helpers, Olimar heads off to find what he needs to fix his ship and head home.
It’s a simple story, traditional since it’s almost the same in every Pikmin game. Sure the previous games add a little bit here and there but in Hey! Pikmin, the plot is bare bones. Sadly it also takes a backseat in favor of the game and it doesn’t be any relevant until at least you collect 30,000 Sparklium. But for a Pikmin game, what can you do?
Now since this is a Pikmin game, your job is to find Pikmin and use them to solve puzzles, defeat enemies and find treasures. Olimar can’t defend himself. He doesn’t have anything that can provide offense. All he has is a whistle and a jetpack that lets you hover for a short time. The only form of offense that you have is the Pikmin. They come in different varieties and each of them provides a different advantage for your journey. Red Pikmin is immune to fire and are strong fighters. Yellow can be thrown farther and can withstand electricity. Blue Pikmin are agile swimmers and essential for underwater combat. Rock Pikmin pack a punch and can destroy crystalized walls and Winged Pikmin can help you float through dangerous hazards and can reach high places. Unlike the main Pikmin games, this one you are only limited to 20 Pikmin in each area. This adds a bit of strategy but also a bit of micromanaging since you need to make sure everyone is safe from harm. Carelessness will lead you to defeat.
Hey! Pikmin has you traveling through 8 Sectors, each with 5 areas. As you trek, you need to seek out Pikmin and use them to survive what lies ahead. This also relates to finding Sparklium. You do that by collecting Sparklium in each area. Finding treasures also count because they net a high amount of Sparklium and each area has at least 2-4 treasures to find. Finding them is the challenge. They can appear where you least expect it. Exploration is a definite must and the game offers a lot of it. If you’re lucky, you may find a hidden exit that can lead to an Area X. Those areas put your Pikmin playing skills to the test. Sometimes they can be a cakewalk and others can be a test of skill. At the end of every sector is a boss fight. If you know how the bosses behave, then they won’t be much of a challenge. One good thing about it is that the game really does a good job showing them before the big fight.
In addition to exploration, there’s also Pikmin Park and using all the Pikmin you gathered, you can order them to head to specific areas to excavate more Sparklium. It’s a neat addition and offers more to an interesting game. As I said before, getting Sparklium is needed to reach the end and you’ll have to do so in this 10-12 hour game. Going for 100% will have you clocking in at about 16 hours since you need to complete every stage, find every treasure and do so with all Pikmin unharmed. This game will test you.
For a 3DS game, the presentation is well done. The characters and environment are vibrant and colorful. Each world has a unique theme that offers something different as you progress. Olimar and the Pikmin I feel is the best thing since they express themselves in the form of short cutscenes. Some are rather humorous but it’s to be expected for a Pikmin game. The game has some great music. Unlike other games where music doesn’t reflect the game, this does and it’s done very well. Some songs like the cave areas have a bit of a Metroid vibe to them. It’s pretty good and it helps make the game feel enjoyable. The controls are good. You just tap with the stylus on the touchscreen and you can fling your Pikmin to where they will go. It can help with some tricky puzzles. The touch screen is also used for the whistle to get your Pikmin in line as well as the rocket backpack. Movement is done either with the analog stick or the D-Pad. The D-Pad is a safer bet if you feel analog isn’t your thing.
Though I do enjoy some of the good things, there are a few things I find problematic with the game. First, the puzzles are too simple at times. Understandably since this game is meant for kids but for others, they may find them to be too easy. The same can be said for the bosses. Many of their patterns are simple to figure out, making some of them be a joke. Thankfully each boss provides a different challenge, requiring you to use the Pikmin you have to take the boss down. Replay value is there if you want to go back and beat every level with all Pikmin intact but other than that, there isn’t much. It’s pretty much a one & done game when it comes to finding everything. Speaking of which, the Pikmin is another flaw I have with the game. They’re only useful when they see anything of interest and are pretty much brain dead. Sometimes they don’t follow fast enough and you can end up either losing Pikmin or getting killed and forced to restart. Oh, and there are no checkpoints. If you die, you have to start the level all over again. That is an issue especially in tougher levels where you are forced to redo a lot of progress. That’s upsetting.
In conclusion, Hey! Pikmin isn’t a bad game, far from it. It’s an enjoyable game that offers a lot of charm and a pretty acceptable challenge. For a handheld, Nintendo did well in bringing Pikmin to the small screen. A good presentation with simple yet effective controls added with an acceptable amount of challenge makes this a worthy addition to the franchise. If you want something to keep yourself busy before Nintendo makes an official Pikmin sequel, this is it. Trust me. You’ll enjoy it.
I give Hey! Pikmin an 8.5 out of 10.