A mysterious object has been spotted and gathered by the Pikmin. It appears to be a flat device with removable parts. Analysis shows this technology has potential, but we are unsure how to harness it yet. It could not produce new Pikmin when thrown in the onion, but perhaps we could use it to enhance our ship.
Pikmin 3 has landed on Switch with a demo that finally reveals how this game will play without the Wii U. To sum it up bluntly, slightly worse. The motion controls in the Switch just feel a little less natural and accurate than the Wii Remote. Nintendo themselves have seemingly admitted this by adding a brand new lock-on feature to compensate. A combination of the gyro and stick can now be used to aim the cursor for faster movement and accuracy. It all combines for a highly playable experience that is adapted to the Switch as good as it could be, with the option of toggling motion controls.
To sum up the core gameplay if you’re never played a Pikmin game before, you walk around with little creatures called Pikmin and order them to complete tasks by throwing them at enemies or objects. Different colour Pikmin have different strengths and abilities. Once they start a task they will continue it themselves until you call them again with a whistle, and this way you can have Pikmin doing several different things at the same time. Just make sure to keep an eye on them in case they get up to mischief as there are a lot of threats out there. Nature can be brutal and many other creatures on this world love the taste of Pikmin. Mmmm, good protein.
As a long-time fan of the series, it feels amazing to be playing Pikmin again. The calming feeling hit me immediately on the title screen, like I had just landed in a new world. There is nothing else in gaming or anywhere that captures this surreal alien garden atmosphere in quite the same way. The sound effects and music captivate your curiosity with unusual beats and whimsical tones. The controls are fast but accessible. The visuals are busy but comforting, as Pikmin follow you around with a sense of purpose. They’re not just slaves, they feel like your friends. It’s a world that can look complicated from the outside, but once you’re in there it’s very inviting and captivating.
The map now pauses the game on a separate menu rather than allowing you to look at the Wii U pad in real-time. This makes the game slightly easier, though I do miss the thrilling feeling of multitasking on Wii U. It felt extremely immersive as I would gather Pikmin with the Wii Remote while looking at two different independent screens. The fact they had to come up with new mechanics to make this work smoothly on Switch shows how ambitious the game was in 2013. For those worried about playing an “old port”, even in 2020 the gameplay feels ahead of its time.
Some of the early impressions have criticised the game because it runs in 720p instead of 1080p or runs at 30fps instead of 33fps. I haven’t done a frame-by-frame tech analysis but the game looks good to me. It might not have the most detailed textures in gaming, but it’s still an upgrade from the Wii U version which accomplishes a lot with 100 Pikmin on screen. The environmental detail is wonderful with a surreal mix of realistic plants, real world objects and alien creatures. The game looks amazing and complimented with excellent sound design creates a wholesome experience.
More important than the graphics is the extra content and control additions. This is a strategy game at its core and most of the changes in the Switch version are gameplay-focused, including the addition of co-op story mode. There’s going to be a little bit of new story that I don’t know much about, as it wasn’t in the demo. Leaderboards appear to be back but they weren’t accessible in the demo either. It also appears that all the DLC missions are included in the base game now, something people forget about the Wii U game. All this combines to give the Switch port decent value I think, even at full price. The game is simply that good, and you are getting more content than the base Wii U version.
I highly recommend trying this demo if you’ve never played Pikmin before. It contains a couple of days of exploration in the main story, with an intuitive tutorial at the start. Then there’s a single challenge in Mission Mode that you can replay over and over to give you a taste of its depth. Pikmin 3 in my opinion is one of the best games ever made and the best in the Pikmin series, and the Switch port looks to successfully capture that magic.
See you on PNF-404! Yes that’s the tentative name for this new planet, catchy huh? Please bring some fruit as my supplies are running a bit low, and we need it for the ship’s engine… I’m not sure why it keeps disappearing.