Hey! Pikmin (Nintendo 3DS) Preview

By Rudy Lavaux 12.07.2017 9

Review for Hey! Pikmin on Nintendo 3DS

It has a long time coming but the Pikmin series has finally landed on handheld systems. The release of the very first Pikmin for GameCube was back in 2002, but only now has the series gone portable. This is not actually the first time if counting the Game Boy Advance eReader cards, though - but hey, those were available exclusively in Japan, requiring a Game Boy Advance, Japanese GameCube, a Japanese copy of Pikmin 2, a GBA/GC cable, an eReader and the aforementioned elusive cards for it to actually be played. A very demanding and convoluted set of requirements indeed, so, for all intents and purposes, this will be really the one true first handheld Pikmin experience for the vast majority of players out there that can be enjoyed away from home and at all times, at least until Pikmin 4 eventually shows up on Nintendo Switch. Therefore, expectations are high for Hey! Pikmin, and it hoped that development studio Arzest has secured a safe landing on whichever planet Olimar is going to explore this time, and not crash landed. Cubed3 had chance to get hands-on with the game ahead of launch to see how things are shaping up.

Captain Olimar, at least in the plot, does crash land once more onto an alien planet, although he will not be looking for ship parts this time, but instead for Sparklium necessary to get the S.S. Dolphin back in working order. Sparklium can either be found in pure form, as little golden acorns units, larger red, or even rainbow coloured ones worth several units. As in previous instalments, Olimar will still be able to find and collect man-made objects that he still Christens with weird names. These objects always come in threes in each stage and are usually worth several hundreds. 30,000 Sparklium will be required for Olimar to be allowed to leave the planet, so the goal of the game is to collect as much of it as possible, as well as the aforementioned items that are worth a lot of it.

This is done by exploring 2.5D side-scrolling stages that act a lot more like platforming levels than any previous Pikmin entry. Gameplay-wise, this is done entirely and exclusively with the Circle Pad and the touch-screen. Simply put, buttons are not used at all in Hey! Pikmin. Olimar is controlled using the control pad and some of his basic actions are called upon by tapping dedicated icons on the touch-screen of the 3DS, such as whistling for Pikmin to come back or throwing them at targets on the screen. This is all responsive enough and gameplay rarely gets in the way of the experience, except in one specific instance that will be mentioned later. The view of the area spans both screens of the 3DS but it is always on the bottom screen that the core of the action takes place. Olimar can send Pikmin flying in the air by throwing them, especially yellow Pikmin, where they may land in the upper screen, but because of the reliance on the touch-screen for controls, the upper screen mostly acts as an expanded view of the area and this is put to play in puzzles where an object may be seen, unreachable on foot, in the upper screen, and it's then up to the player to figure out how to get Pikmin up there to get them to bring back the object.

Screenshot for Hey! Pikmin on Nintendo 3DS

The world of Hey! Pikmin is divided into several areas, each with a local map that actually works a lot like a Mario game where stages are interconnected dots on a larger local map. Clearing any given stage will open up the path to the next one and certain stages also have alternate exits that will open up paths to extra, optional ones, some of which play exactly like the normal areas, some that play more like much shorter puzzles housing large pellets that can be fed to the classic Pikmin "onions" that will generate Pikmin of the corresponding pellet colour. This sense of exploration very reminiscent of Super Mario World feels very satisfying so far in the impression of non-linearity that it induces.

In each stage, Olimar starts out empty handed, with no Pikmin at his disposition but, soon enough, he will find a few hiding in some clover bushes or behind some twigs and the like... and recruit them by doing the classic whistling sound, now accompanied by a "Hey" voice sample (see what Nintendo did there with the title?). Pikmin will be required to throw them at enemies so they fight for Olimar who himself can't punch or anything of the sort this time, but also in order to solve some mild puzzles in order to gain access to blocked areas, such as pushing very large obstacles to create footholds, and so on. The main activity Pikmin will be assigned, though, will be to bring back the aforementioned Sparklium and objects when those are out of Olimar's reach. It is worth noting, for all Pikmin fans out there, that the little creatures will not be required to bring those objects back to his ship this time, but simply to Olimar himself who will open up a portal and send them back to the Dolphin automatically. Sadly, it is not made clear, for the sake of the series' lore, where Olimar obtained such tech and why he never had it before... but it's clear that this was made to make the game easier to tackle and levels much quicker to be cleared and sampled in much shorter bursts while on the go. In this sense, Hey! Pikmin does succeed, as this new approach to a Pikmin game lends itself very well indeed to a quick play while on the bus or something.

Screenshot for Hey! Pikmin on Nintendo 3DS

Each stage invites players to explore every nook and cranny, as there are indeed a lot of hidden things to find, and to perfectly complete each of them not only must the three objects be found, but also all the hidden Pikmin must be found and kept alive until the exit is found. In another new move for the series, Olimar won't be able to plant and pluck Pikmin, so he can run out of Pikmin mid-stage and be unable to progress further. Therefore, if that happens, a few extra Pikmin will re-spawn at previous spots where they were found before, so there is no need to worry if things get too tough - at least as witnessed in the early parts tackled during this preview. It seems to be very easy to approach, so running out of Pikmin should not happen all that often, if ever.

Outside of the aforementioned stages, the Pikmin that Olimar manages to bring back in one piece all gather in the Pikmin Park, a place where the Pikmin can be seen in a classic bird's eye view going about the basic tasks that Olimar assigns to them of exploring the park for extra objects worth some more Sparklium. These parts are seen solely on the upper screen while the lower screen displays the overall map through which the player can send Pikmin of different colours to different areas where they will be most efficient, such as fire-resistant red Pikmin being sent to fiery areas, and so on. These parts are fully 3D rendered but this brings up an important point: there is no stereoscopic 3D effect whatsoever in Hey! Pikmin. The fact that it releases alongside the New 2DS XL on 28th July, 2017 is significant indeed, as players who may want to pick both will not be missing on any feature of this latest game by playing it on the latest variation in the 3DS family.

Screenshot for Hey! Pikmin on Nintendo 3DS

It's understandable that in the 2.5D stages where the action takes place mostly on the touch screen anyway, having the player shift attention between a screen that has stereoscopic 3D enabled and one that does not support it could get very tiring for the eyes within minutes, so it's best left out there, but outside of those stages, in the Pikmin Park for instance or when examining the objects brought back from the stages in all their 3D rendered glory, it would have been great to have some 3D in there, but that is not to be, sadly. This is not a huge omission per se, but just a small extra that would have been most welcome.

On the subject of visuals and graphics, despite the low resolution of the 3DS making some subtle details of the tiny Pikmin somewhat hard to make out, everything is rather pleasing to the eye indeed, with distant background objects being made blurrier on purpose to highlight the focus being put on the foreground action. The accompanying music is fitting and relaxing, and the noises the Pikmin make are just reused from previous entries but still work fine. Some cute cut-scenes involving Pikmin shenanigans occur that will undoubtedly put a smile on every face. This is all marred by only one, rather major setback and the only real problem with Hey! Pikmin from the early hands-on with it: performance. For preview purposes, this was tested on an original model of 3DS, and it is regrettable to say that it does not perform well on the ageing hardware, dropping a lot of frames when the amount of Pikmin on-screen reaches the higher numbers - around 20 can be reached in certain stages. This is not the first time this has happened as Hyrule Warriors Legends already performed poorly on older systems and was more optimised for the New 3DS, but it is sad that this would be the case for what is essentially a much simpler looking 2.5D game.

With that out of the way, however, Cubed3's time with Hey! Pikmin so far has still proven to be very enjoyable indeed, but this issue on older hardware had to be addressed nonetheless. The final verdict will be delivered later, along with more in-depth details in the upcoming review, though, so stay tuned for more information closer to the day of release.

Screenshot for Hey! Pikmin on Nintendo 3DS

Final Thoughts

Hey! Pikmin is looking like a more original take on the franchise than what was expected, one that feels like it was made to shine on the New 2DS XL that is set to release alongside it, since it is devoid of any stereoscopic 3D effect, meaning those who will pick the system and this game to accompany it will not miss out on any feature. Sadly, owners of an original model of 3DS, 3DS XL or 2DS will have to deal with a decidedly unpolished experience that struggles to hit its target frame-rate on the ageing hardware, which is truly unfortunate. Aside from these technical setbacks, the experience still proves to be perfectly enjoyable and even adorable. Stay tuned for Cubed3's final verdict in the upcoming review.

Developer

Arzest

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I'm really looking forward to this one! I know the frame-rate dips on the original 3DS, but does it severely hinder the enjoyment factor?

The lack of button controls sounds a bit like Yoshi Touch & Go. Colour me intrigued! Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

Adam Riley said:
I'm really looking forward to this one! I know the frame-rate dips on the original 3DS, but does it severely hinder the enjoyment factor?

Mmmh, it's distracting to me when it happens full blast but otherwise, no, because it's not a game meant to be fast or to be played quick either, it doesn't really take away from the experience. Something I was about to add to the preview and which at the last minute I forgot to mention is that, when the frame rate dips to its lowest, I've had it a couple times that my inputs on the touch screen would not register, like I'm trying to throw a Pikmin to defeat an enemy and nothing happens, and I ended up losing a pikmin as a result. It's happened to me only once or twice over the several hours I've already put into this, so I can't conclude that it was a result of the frame rate problems rather than me not pressing it right.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

why does miyamoto have such a hard on for pikmin?

Because it was his gardening idea - wondering what it would be like to have little helpers with him whilst working in the garden.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

he keeps on pushing it in spite of its less than stellar sales.
nintendo really lets him do whatever.

Let's have a look...

Pikmin (2001) - 502,996 (#10 on overall GCN chart in Japan, 1.63m worldwide)
Pikmin 2 (2004) - 470,933 (#11 on overall GCN chart in Japan, 1.2m worldwide)
New Play Control! Pikmin - 170,866
New Play Control! Pikmin 2 - 148,094
Pikmin 3 (2013) - 222.909 (0.8m worldwide on the dead Wii U)

That stupid fabricated charts website many places link to says the entire series is at 4.3m worldwide, but they pull numbers out of their arse and then secretly adjust if official numbers ever arise.

The official sales data I posted is a mix of Famitsu numbers for Japan, and official numbers from Nintendo.

I'd love to see a Pikmin 3 Deluxe on Switch rather than rushing to do a Pikmin 4. Let's see how well this spin-off does since it's being pushed as the key game at launch for 2DS XL (although I think Ever Oasis comes on the same day in Japan...maybe?).

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Insanoflex said:
he keeps on pushing it in spite of its less than stellar sales.
nintendo really lets him do whatever.

To be honest I feel the same with the Yoshi and Kirby series of games, but they most likely sell similarly to Fzero, Waverace and Starfox games anyway.

If Nintendo is profitable from it then they have the justification to do it...

Kirby's massive in Japan and the US. Even Yoshi on DS sold a million, if I recall correctly. Not low sellers by any means. Metroid is the dead horse, but thankfully sales in the US for Prime give that a glimmer of hope.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I just bought Wooly World and Rainbow Paintbrush myself so I guess I am just another statistic. 

Kirby is huge in Japan, the merchandise is through the roof! I guess the family friendly appeal of both Yoshi and Kirby along with their familiarity help. I guess thats where the argument for games like 1080 and Waverace fall down and with HAL owning Kirby they have nothing really else to do but keeping pumping out games.

If Nintendo were to continue this 'cadance' of games then i can't help but feel that games like Fzero and Mother would be somewhere down the track. Nintendo heard the cries for Starfox and Metroid after all. It's not like these games are hugely unpopular, although Fzero really did 

Considering the numerous devs that have worked with Nintendo in recent years (Next Level, Level 5, Capcom, Ganbarion, Good Feel, Grezzo, BandaiNamco, Mercury Steam  Platinum, SEGA, Monster Games to name a few) it's not a surprise that someone hasn't picked up a few more franchises.  

Obviously I reckon Shiinen have the pedigree to make a decent Fzero after their work on FAST, but Monster also have the potential to make a decent racer after too! 

 

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Adam Riley, Azuardo, devidise, RudyC3

There are 4 members online at the moment.