Hey! Pikmin (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 26.07.2017

Review for Hey! Pikmin on Nintendo 3DS

Many a fan of Pikmin had reason to get excited about this game finally seeing release this week on Nintendo 3DS, since it has been a few years already since the release of Pikmin 3 on Wii U and Pikmin 4 remains shrouded in mystery for the time being, not yet on the Switch horizon. The first few hours spent with Hey! Pikmin two weeks ago, when Cubed3's preview was released, were promising indeed and faithful readers will surely have been awaiting the final judgement after some extended time spent with it. This is especially true after the initial report of erratic frame-rate issues encountered on original 3DS models that had affected the early experience. That wait has come to an end now, as the time has come to deliver the final verdict.

As already explained in more detail in the preview, Olimar is back again and crash lands on a planet and has to collect Sparklium in order to refuel his ship so he can go back home. This Sparklium comes either in pure form or is obtained by converting man-made objects into it, which are found within the stages. These are presented in a 2.5D style that spans both screens, although most of the action happens on the touch screen due to the game exclusively using the Circle Pad for moving Olimar, and the touch screen itself for all other input, such as throwing Pikmin or tapping icons on the screen to whistle or to hover using Olimar's jet-pack. However, there is no stereoscopic 3D effect whatsoever, not even on newer models of 3DS, which is unfortunate since some parts, other than the stages themselves, would have lent themselves well to the effect without being overly demanding. Furthermore, each stage has a good few hidden areas and some even have hidden exits, leading to some extra fully fledged or shorter bonus stages, which do add an important element of exploration into the mix that is very welcome indeed.

The world of Hey! Pikmin is divided into those stages, several per region on the world map, and each region ends in a boss battle. It is within those stages that Olimar encounters and collects the titular creatures. Rather than having to be grown this time around, however, they are instead encountered in the wild as each level is explored, and Olimar always starts empty handed with no Pikmin at disposal: they have to be found to be used. They are required to progress, too, so that means if Olimar runs out of Pikmin, he will have to find some more. Typically, each stage has a limited amount of Pikmin, usually a maximum of 20, which if Olimar manages keep until the end, results in a reward being given.

Screenshot for Hey! Pikmin on Nintendo 3DS

However, should Olimar lose all his Pikmin, or lose enough so that a certain puzzle in the stage requiring several Pikmin becomes unsolvable, then going back to a previous spot where Pikmin were encountered will result in some more having spawned there. However, managing to still get 20 by the end of the stage in this manner won't result in the award unlocking... Olimar must not lose any at all to get the award.

Remaining Pikmin will then stay with Olimar for good in the Pikmin Park, which is actually an area closer in presentation to the classic areas from previous releases in that it is presented in a top-down view on the upper screen of the 3DS. The player issues commands via the touch screen to send Pikmin of various colours to different areas of the park where they will be most useful, such as blues in watery areas or yellows in areas with electric wires all over the place. Sending Pikmin to those places will result in them searching the area for more Sparklium but it will usually take quite some time for them to uncover any or pick an area completely clean, but the more Pikmin gathered in the park, the faster they are at working.

The meat is the levels themselves; exploring each one, taking in the sights, and solving puzzles to progress feels very good. It is not nearly as detailed as the previous 3D entries, but the mix of visuals and the music, in particular, coupled with the usual voice clips of the Pikmin, all contribute to an experience that feels different from older episodes, yet still manages to capture that magical vibe of being so small in a world inhabited by creatures sometimes much bigger than you. The puzzles found within are very clever, too. A lot of the mechanics involved in their solving are usual Pikmin stuff, like yellow Pikmin being used for connecting two wires and carrying electricity to certain mechanisms and the like, but others are sometimes more subtly original.

Screenshot for Hey! Pikmin on Nintendo 3DS

In water levels, for instance, Olimar and the blue Pikmin can actually swim in all directions and, after flicking the blue companions at enemies or any obstacles, they will gracefully swim back to Olimar's side, which is really cute. Hey! Pikmin actually puts perhaps an even higher emphasis on the Pikmin themselves this time around, and their social behaviour, than in any previous entry. It was common before to see each kind of Pikmin doing things by themselves in a comical way when first encountered, but then, later on, they would simply cease to showcase any sort of intelligent reactions to the new things they come across as the world was explored. Hey! Pikmin is packed with little cut-scenes in every stage where the little buddies can be seen reacting to things, being scared, and so on, and so forth. There's a bit of influence from the Pikmin short movies produced by Miyamoto in there, and this benefits from it greatly in the atmosphere department, but that's not to say that it lacks substance, either. With all the stages on offer, it should last for around as long as might be expected of the main story mode in other games: anywhere between 10 and 15 hours.

There's some amiibo support, where tapping the Pikmin or Olimar figure will call back-up Pikmin, although once again calling more than the maximum is impossible, and if some have been lost, the special award still cannot be obtained. The Pikmin amiibo can also be levelled-up the more Pikmin are gathered at the Pikmin Park, which helps in calling more back-up Pikmin at once, although frankly this makes an already easy game even easier. That being said, it might not be a bad idea for parents to buy that specific accompanying amiibo if they fear their young child may still be struggling. Certain secret spots within stages, typically housing extra Sparklium, can be unveiled by tapping an amiibo at the right time and spot, as well. According to Nintendo, compatible amiibo also help in solving puzzles, and supported ones include those from the Super Mario, Splatoon, and Animal Crossing series.

Screenshot for Hey! Pikmin on Nintendo 3DS

Beyond all this, there's not much more to be done beyond perfect completion of each level, and trying to get some better scores on each one. It's not a very long game, as already explained, but it's a relatively intense and pleasant romp indeed, save for the one detail that even after more time spent with the title still can't be shaken off: frame-rate issues on older hardware. It feels like a redundant complaint but it is really sad to see what is seemingly not the most demanding of titles on the system being incapable of performing at a steady 30fps on an old 3DS. Just to be clear: Hey! Pikmin is a great title, and it is still enjoyable even with those issues due to it not being filled with very fast-paced and frantic action, but more of a slow-paced cinematic and contemplative experience, requiring careful thinking for puzzle solving. However, the big frame-rate drops that aggravate when the number of Pikmin on-screen peaks at 20, coupled with some more enemies and Olimar himself, bring the number of frames per second close to around 10 or under, although this is only in the most extreme cases. This is too big to not make a case out of it and warn readers about. New 3DS, New 3DS XL, or soon to become New 2DS XL, owners need not to worry at all, of course, but others need to be made aware of this. If planning to get Hey! Pikmin and also planning to upgrade to a newer model of 3DS soon, then now would be a good time to do so to best enjoy what is otherwise perfectly fine and a truly charming piece of software. Hey! Pikmin, with or without these issues that will affect a sizeable portion of the userbase, is still an enjoyable experience, but those with newer models will definitely get the best experience possible.

Screenshot for Hey! Pikmin on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Hey! Pikmin feels more like a completely original piece of entertainment that just happens to stage the titular critters rather being than a true Pikmin title. It proves to be a fun and inventive puzzle platformer that feels completely original within the franchise. The only complaint that can be levelled towards it is that it doesn't run well at all on older models of 3DS. For those players out there who do own a model that has the "NEW" moniker in its name, this will not affect them at all and they will be able to enjoy this in all its glory without any compromise. However, it's not too far fetched to presume that the larger part of the current install base has not necessarily made the jump to the newer generation of hardware, so they will unfortunately have to deal with the one shortcoming that this has, which may well prove distracting after a while, depending on each individual's tolerance of stuttering frame-rates. Despite this, though, the experience is still a very enjoyable one indeed, proving that Pikmin can be twisted into something different enough from its base formula and still feel fresh and entertaining.






2D Platformer



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   


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