Shigeru Miyamoto’s work has been varied and remembered by generations of Nintendo fans. Pikmin was one of the last original ideas he presented during the GameCube era, a title inspired by one of the Japanese creator’s hobbies: gardening. Despite bearing the signature of the famed creator of Mario and The Legend of Zelda, the franchise has not enjoyed the same success as its older siblings due to various factors. However, we are at the end of the cycle of a successful console, the third best-selling in history, and with everything to prove that this franchise of little plant creatures is a great proposal to play.
Lost in a big garden
Pikmin 4 is a real-time strategy game in which we control a small creature that is part of a rescue group that uses small creatures called Pikmin to attack other creatures, carry treasures and objects, and help him solve some obstacles. Our job will be to guide the Pikmin, manage the resources obtained considering their abilities and launch them -literally- to achieve our goal and return with all these beings safe and sound before night falls.
In terms of story, Pikmin 4 puts us in the shoes of an all-new character and, for the first time, gives us a character creator to make our own. This will be a new recruit to the Rescue Corps, who, as the name suggests, is part of a space rescue team.
This character enters the story thanks to the classic protagonist of the series, Captain Olimar, who fails to return to his planet with the help of the Pikmin and sends a distress signal. A first group of the Rescue Corps is sent on the mission, but their ship breaks down on the journey and they also get lost on the planet. Now it’s up to our character to first rescue this group and then find Captain Olimar.
An astronaut, some plants and a dog in the garden
While the game’s concept may sound overwhelming, Pikmin 4 sets up its mechanics very well during the tutorial and gives you enough tools to have one of the most accessible games in the series. While previous titles in the franchise set strict time limits for the mission, there is more room to explore, make mistakes, and achieve your goals. While saving your companions should be pressing, the game lets you work at your own pace.
In addition to the members of the Rescue Corps, you will be able to find other shipwrecked people who have not only heard Captain Olimar’s SOS but have also been inspired by their travel logs to explore and discover this exciting planet, only to find themselves stranded. As you rescue more members of your squadron and these shipwrecks, your rescue zone will grow, increasing the number of tools and upgrades available to you, as well as the number of challenges to complete.
Part of our mission will also be to obtain treasures that can be converted into Sparklium, which will be our fuel to increase our exploration range and open up more areas of the map. These can be found both on the surface and in some missions that will take us underground. We can also collect a material that allows us to build clay structures and use it with the squad scientist to get upgrades for our character.
Now, each Pikmin has its own unique abilities, whether it’s the standard red Pikmin that resists fire attacks or the yellow Pikmin that is immune to electricity. Each of these creatures has an advantage, and that is where strategy comes in. In this release, we have two new Pikmin, the Ice Pikmin, which allows us to freeze both enemies and water, and the Glow Pikmin, which, in addition to having different resistances, are designed for night expeditions, one of the new elements of the game.
In addition to the Pikmin, this time we have Oatchi, a dog-like creature that helps us in our adventure. If there is one thing that really helps the accessibility of the game, it is this little dog, which as the days pass in the game will increase in number and skills, being able to transport you and the Pikmin faster, swim, jump, or even help your Pikmin in some of their tasks such as carrying or breaking structures. Later on, you can upgrade this character’s skills and unlock others.
Part of the game and some challenges are focused on Dandori battles, where to emerge victorious we will have to know how to distribute and delegate tasks, with Oatchi will be of great help. These missions will give us challenges where we have to defeat a strange creature that looks like us but is covered in leaves. They are extremely fun events that require good strategy.
Another new feature is the Night Expeditions, where for the first time we will explore at night thanks to the new Pikmin. In these missions, there are changes in the mechanics, where the game becomes a kind of tower defense, where we will use the glowing Pikmin to stop the enemies that try to destroy their nest. If you manage to survive the night, you will receive resources, but if the enemies manage to destroy the nest, the game ends.
Piklmin 4 is one of those games that should not be missed if you are a fan of strategy games but feel overwhelmed. The learning curve is quite simple and although it seems easy, the game has more content than you can imagine and that’s where the real challenge begins. With stunning visuals and a captivating atmosphere, this title can be a great entry point into the series if you’ve never considered it before.