Pikmin 4 is a wonderfully weird combination of adorable graphics, a simple story and an unconsciously creepy undertone. It reinforces its predecessor’s strength by including more Pikmin variations, smoother graphics and Night Expeditions, which pose a much bigger challenge than fans may be used to.
- Fantastic return to the series
- Night expeditions are wonderfully stressful
- Caves and Dandori challenges to explore
- Animation looks crisp and vibrant
- Cutscenes can go on for too long
- Review price:£49.99 / $59.99
- Release date:21st July 2023
- Platforms:Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch OLED, Nintendo Switch Lite
Pikmin 4 offers a modern twist on the franchise after its long 10-year hiatus, with even more Pikmin to play with and the introduction of the adorable Rescue Pup, Oatchi.
The Pikmin series offers up a fantastically unique mechanic, tasking the player with taking control of a horde of small creatures and pillaging each area you encounter. The laid-back style is very well complimented by the underlying sense of stress brought on by trying to keep everyone safe, as well as the increasingly creepy imagery you encounter later in the game.
There are plenty of new mechanics to keep long-time fans interested. As for newcomers, Nintendo has done a fantastic job of implementing small teaching moments as the game progresses, and I would really urge anyone with any interest to try out this title.
- Simple and easy to follow
- Collect Sparklium to move on to new areas
- A lot of cutscenes can ruin the pace
The story of Pikmin 4 is both easy to follow and a little convoluted. I was called to a mysterious planet – that looks a lot like our own Earth – after several distress signals were sent to my ship. After arriving, I was quickly introduced to Oatchi, the adorable Rescue Pup. Oatchi is extremely cute, despite his body only being made up of two legs and no visible nose.
At the start of the game – and to a lesser extent the rest of the story – there are a lot of expository cutscenes, which explain various game mechanics as well as showing off the alien world and its inhabitants. Since Pikmin 4 has been developed with the goal of appealing to newcomers, this is understandable, but it did bring down the pace in some sections. There is a skip button thankfully, but since the story is not the biggest standout of this game, I could have done with fewer expository cutscenes and more freedom to get in on the action.
Once the cutscenes ended, I was tasked with finding the stray members of my team – of which there are many – as well as our leader Olimar. Finding team members meant that I needed to unlock more areas, which can be done by gathering Sparklium – a valuable energy resource. Sparklium can be found by returning treasure to the ship, a fantastic incentive to explore each area thoroughly.
Once I rescued enough people we all gathered at the Rescue Base, where each day begins. From here, I can go on Daytime Expeditions, Night time Expeditions, replay Dandori Battles and Challenges and talk to my crew.
Most crew members have tidbits of information to share and set me challenges. After completing these challenges and earning Treasure, I could then go to our resident inventor and pick up any new tech. This included basic items like Ice Bombs and Health Packs, as well as those that grant immunity to fire or more commands for my Pikmin.
Gaining Pup Points in the Daytime Expeditions also allowed me to train Oatchi. He can be taught to doggy paddle, carry heavier items and run faster, among many other skills. The incentive to rescue more crew members to upgrade Oatchi was a fantastic decision, as it made me more inclined to revisit areas I hadn’t completed in order to progress further into the game.
Pikmin 4 is supported by its gameplay rather than its story, but that didn’t reduce my experience playing it at all. As of writing, I have not only hit the end credits, but also located almost every hidden collectible to complete this game in full; which is not something I usually do. This is a testament to how addictive this game can be, with the puzzles and combat mechanics being a personal favourite of mine.
- Use Pikmin to take on various tasks
- Oatchi offers an adorable helping paw
- Ability to rewind time
The first area I got to explore was Sun-Speckled Terrace. After arriving I quickly managed to pick up some Pikmin, with my first crew being made up of the iconic Red, Blue and Yellow types. I also met the adorable Rescue Pup, Oatchi. Oatchi can be used to dig up holes, fight off enemies or carry items back to the base.
I used my rag-tag crew to help me take down enemies, gather Treasure and find the highly coveted Onions. Onions are fed into the main Onion back at the base, unlocking the ability to carry more Pikmin during my adventures.
Exploring each area felt immensely gratifying. Larger pieces of Treasure that are worth more Sparklium were usually hidden behind massive enemies that required some brain power to take down. Some smaller enemies can be defeated in just a few hits, but many larger enemies have their own abilities – such as fire or ice – which made me reconsider which Pikmin and attack strategy would work best and save the most members of my crew.
One of the new Pikmin to join the series is the Ice Pikmin. These little creatures can turn water into ice and can freeze certain types of enemies, making them vital in larger battles.
If something does go terribly wrong, you have the ability to rewind time. This is a completely new feature to Pikmin and it worked wonderfully.
The rewind function can be used to rewind an entire day or just to rewind to one minute ago before half of my Pikmin were taken out by a massive Bulbmin. I didn’t overuse this feature – sometimes it felt better to accept my loss rather than replay an area over and over again – but it was incredibly helpful for any detrimental attacks.
Each day has a time limit and I had to make sure that we all made it back to the base in time. If I did lose some Pikmin along the way, the game gave me the chance to rewind and save any stragglers; a vital feature when I first started playing.
Every area is smattered with numerous caves. The base caves are very reminiscent of The Binding of Isaac or the original Legend of Zelda dungeon crawlers, having several sub-levels to work through. Most of these caves contain trapped team members for me to rescue, some of which have been changed. These members look very leafy, almost like a Pikmin, with no previous knowledge of their time working with our crew. Once I beat the cave I could save my fallen comrades, with the cure for their leafiness coming in the Nighttime Expeditions.
The Night time Expeditions take place in the same core areas as the Day time Expeditions, but the gameplay is completely revamped. The Night time function is to gather Glow Sap; a thick, green goo that our resident scientist can use to create a cure for any leafy crew members. These members have no memory and are usually pretty hostile, being found mostly in the puzzle sections of the game.
Glow Sap is harvested from large dirt structures in the ground called Lumiknolls, which require protection from enemies. I had Oatchi to help but more importantly, Glow Pikmin. These Pikmin are the only ones available during Night time levels but can be used in caves during Day time Expeditions. Unlike regular Pikmin, Glow Pikmin are harvested from Glow Pellets which can be found around each level. They also returned to me without any prompting once they were idle, which makes it a lot easier to traverse the terrain.
Once it hits night, every enemy becomes a lot stronger; their eyes glow red and their whole mission is to destroy the Lumikoll. I could command Oatchi to protect the Lumiknoll while I searched the terrain for Glow Pellets to increase my army. For larger enemies, I could turn my Glow Pikmin into a large, glowing ball which descends on the enemy en masse, creating massive damage. This came in handy towards the end of most nights when the scariest enemies were about to destroy the Lumiknoll.
These levels were incredibly fun and I found myself revisiting each one just to see if I could improve my score. The glowing red eyes of the enemies are more than a little unnerving and combined with the increase in difficulty, this mode is ideal for any players that want a bit of a challenge.
Puzzles and challenges
- Dandori Battles and Dandori Challenges
- Each Pikmin has their own special ability
Each Pikmin has its own strengths and weaknesses; Red Pikmin are immune to fire, Yellow Pikmin can touch electricity and jump much higher, and Blue Pikmin can be used underwater. This makes every Pikmin worth keeping alive, as I never knew when I was going to encounter a specific obstacle that only one Pikmin type could help me with.
The Pikmin types are truly important when you encounter the Dandori Battles and Dandori Challenges. Pikmin 4 defines Dandori as the ability to “organise tasks strategically and work effectively to execute plans”. Both the Battles and Challenges are rated in difficulty out of five, but they function in very different ways.
The Dandori Battles saw myself and Oatchi trying to gain more points than a leafy team member and their own Pup, Moss. Both teams have their own Onion and must feed treasure into it, with the highest score count winning when the time runs out. The Dandori Battles are engaging and stressful, as in later levels bombs are introduced that I could use to blow up my teammate’s base. This took a lot of strategy to work out and every replay felt distinctively different, making it a hard mode to master.
The Dandori Challenges were my personal favourite, seeing Oatchi and different Pikmin types running around a set area and trying to collect every treasure available before the timer runs out. Each puzzle was heavily themed and required different Pikmin, ensuring that I would adopt the right strategy and give Pikmin tasks that best suited their needs.
I found that the Dandori Battles were harder to master out of the two, but they were still heavily enjoyable. These caves appear in the Daytime Expeditions around different parts of the area. After I won, I was usually rewarded with another captive team member to take back to the base.
- Vibrant animations that are packed with colour
- Smooth animation with no glitches during gameplay
I played Pikmin 4 on the base Nintendo Switch. I encountered no glitches during gameplay and the animation looked very smooth. Every area is filled to the brim with colour and personality, creating an incredibly immersive experience despite the lower resolution compared to experiences on the PS5 and Xbox Series X. The adorable factor is also dialled up to eleven, making every character and area really pleasing to the eye.
Small details like Oatchi scratching his ear and each Pikmin’s individual walking style were all joys to look at and made the world feel very lived in. Even the creepier animations – such as the red-eyed enemies in the Nighttime expeditions – looked somehow cute, although I can see some sequences being a little too unsettling for younger children.
Despite the childish animation style, I believe that older players could find a lot of joy in Pikmin 4, with more challenges than the likes of Nintendo’s Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe.
Should you buy it?
You want a fun strategy game with adorable animation: Pikmin 4 is very addictive thanks to its constant loop mechanic and the multitude of collectables around each level.
You’re after more of a challenge: There are some challenging sections of Pikmin 4 but there isn’t a massive learning curve.
My love for Pikmin 4 only grew stronger the more I played. This is a great Pikmin entry to delve into as a newcomer and all the new features and characters should offer enough of a change to seasoned Pikmin players.
The animation is incredibly endearing and creates a wonderful atmosphere throughout the game. The creepier sections may be too overwhelming for very young players but will be highly appreciated by older gamers.
If you don’t mind a breezy game that doesn’t offer up much of a challenge, I implore you to check out Pikmin 4 and see what these cutesy little creatures have to offer. Otherwise, check out our Best Nintendo Switch Games round-up for even more options.
How we test
When reviewing a game, we will make sure to test all of the available modes, including story campaign, multiplayer and more. We will take multiple elements into consideration including gameplay, story, graphics and performance.
Tested on Nintendo Switch
Completed the main story campagin
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When does Pikmin 4 release?
Pikmin 4 will release on all Nintendo Switch consoles on the 21st of July 2023.
Are there new Pikmin in Pikmin 4?
Yes, the Ice and Glow Pikmin are introduced in this entry. They both have specific skills that make them useful in certain situations.