Pikmin 4 on Switch
Pikmin 4 challenges players to unleash their inner adventurer in a strange world where tiny heroes face towering obstacles. The game makes the ordinary feel extraordinary in the most enchanting ways. This is my first true Pikmin experience, and even as a newcomer to the series, I found myself completely enthralled by the vibrant landscapes, intuitive gameplay, and charming characters I encountered on my journey.
The game opens with a familiar hero, Olimar, crash-landing on a strange planet. After a tutorial level, you take control of a new explorer: a character you get to name and customize. Your role, with the help of friendly Pikmin and the dog-like creature Oatchi, is to seek out and rescue the multitude of castaways who became stranded in their own search for Olimar.
Pikmin 4 is one of the most visually stunning games on the Nintendo Switch. Its breathtaking graphics paint a vibrant world bursting with color and detail, capturing the essence of each environment with astonishing beauty. From a sun-drenched seaside with sand castles to a family’s cozy living room, every area is a testament to the game’s inspired design. Each location feels alive, beckoning you to explore every nook and cranny and discover its hidden wonders.
Because you are a microscopic explorer in this world, ordinary objects are unusually large in scale to the characters. A strawberry is a massive treasure three times your size, and a child’s building blocks are a mountainous jungle gym. I spent many of my in-game days just wandering around gazing at the amazing details in the scenery. I’m completely captivated by the world the developers built.
The heart and soul of Pikmin 4 lies in the endearing and capable Pikmin themselves. These tiny plant-like creatures have never been more advanced and reliable in their behavior. Whether you’re commanding them to build bridges, carry objects, or engage in combat, the Pikmin AI responds with impressive precision and efficiency. It’s a joy to witness their seamless cooperation. Their unwavering loyalty will inspire a sense of pride and protectiveness in any player.
The game introduces new items never before seen in the franchise to aid with navigation, combat, and general quality of life. One of my favorites is an alert whistle that calls all of the Pikmin in the area directly to me. I used this often instead of doubling back to the Onion to retrieve them after a task.
While the Pikmin may steal the spotlight, Oatchi the dog plays an equally pivotal role in Pikmin 4. This lovable companion offers assistance and guidance throughout your journey, demonstrating usefulness in both gameplay and emotional engagement. You can train him throughout the game, assigning “pup drive” points to various skills he can learn. Oatchi’s endearing presence injects a touch of warmth and charm into the narrative, leaving an unforgettable impression that will resonate even after the adventure concludes.
Just as day turns to night in the real world, Pikmin 4 introduces night-time expeditions that breathe life into the gameplay experience. In this new feature, which is introduced about halfway through the game, you can choose to venture out after sundown in order to collect a valuable substance for a fellow researcher.
As darkness descends, the atmosphere becomes more intense. Enemies are more active at night, and the objective in this mode shifts to a tower defense game. You must use the assistance of Glow Pikmin to protect a resource-filled hive called a Lumiknoll until the sun comes up. It’s a nice change of pace from the typical gameplay. The game does a great job of making you feel anxious during these dangerous missions. These night expeditions take place in same areas as daytime exploration but with more challenging levels of difficulty.
Luckily, navigating the microcosmic world of Pikmin 4 is a breeze, thanks to its snappy and intuitive controls. The game ensures that both veterans and newcomers can pick up the controller and dive right into the action. Whether you’re plucking Pikmin, directing their movements, or executing multiple maneuvers at a time, the controls feel responsive and precise, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the game’s captivating challenges without any frustrating learning curve.
One of my biggest complaints about the game is that HUD interface is overly cluttered. At any given time, you see a myriad of information on the screen: the timer, the player’s and Oatchi’s health bars, the main mission objective, the Pikmin types in your party, the number of resources you have on hand, and your throwing cursor. Sometimes there is a mini map in the corner, and there are often dialogue boxes covering up gameplay.
This is especially frustrating during Dandori battles; these challenges have a split-screen set up even when you are playing against NPCs. The same amount of information is displayed on the HUD and you only get half of a screen to play on. I initially failed a few Dandori battles because I had trouble seeing what was happening.
I wished there had been an option for simplifying or even turning off the HUD that displays all of the controls. Besides the clunky HUD, there is no sensitivity slider for aiming (though you can invert the camera controls if you wish).
For completionists, Pikmin 4 provides an abundance of content to keep players engaged for hours on end. Each area has a huge amount of treasures to find and secrets to uncover. Alongside the main story, there is a wealth of side missions and additional challenges, such as participating in Dandori battles, training Oatchi, blooming flowers, and collecting treasure sets. These missions, though frequently optional, give rewards that can assist with the main campaign.
As for the co-op experience, the heart of it is in the Dandori battles. Though they are not quite as creative as the Bingo Battles were in Pikmin 3, they are a fun way to challenge friends in a local multiplayer setting. You can also bring in a second player during the main campaign. However, they’re limited to throwing pebbles at enemies with a cursor and dropping helpful items. It’s quite overpowered, so if you are struggling in the game, grab a friend to help you out.
It took me 13.5 hours to beat the main mission, and I took my time to find many treasures along the way. Skilled players who don’t go out of their way to find additional content can roll credits in under 10 hours. Serious players who want to find everything there is to offer will likely play for over 20 hours.
I had less than 50% completion in the four main expedition areas when I rolled credits. Speaking of which, you unlock brand new areas after the first ending. You won’t want to put the game down too soon.
Pikmin 4 is a testament to the boundless creativity and meticulous craftsmanship of its developers. Its vibrant visuals and awe-inspiring environments create a truly unforgettable experience. With a wealth of side missions, heart-pounding night expeditions, snappy controls, and the delightful presence of Oatchi the dog, Pikmin 4 captured my heart a truly remarkable way.
Visually stunning areas.
Snappy, intuitive controls.
Night expeditions change up the pace.
Tons of side missions and collectable content.
Substantial post-game content.
Oatchi steals the show.
Cluttered HUD is a big distraction.
July 21, 2023
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