‘Hey! Pikmin’ Review: Take Your Pik

The Pikmin franchise has been strong for Nintendo for over almost two decades. And in that time, I’ve only had the pleasure of playing the three core games in passing, but never to completion. So, when I play Hey! Pikmin, for the Nintendo 3DS, I do so as a veritable “newbie” to the franchise. Most of this is new to me, and I’m free to play and enjoy it for what it is, not what it isn’t. For this reason, I can measure the new game by its own merits without the burden of comparing it to the games that came before. The question remains: Are those merits worthy of your time?

Pikmin Are Everywhere

Hey! Pikmin centers around the continuing misadventures of Captain Olimar, as he once again finds himself crash-landed on a mysterious planet. The crippled S.S. Dolphin II needs a resource called Sparklium for fuel, and Olimar need 30,000 units to repair the ship to get back on his way home. Luckily, the planet he crashed on has Sparklium scattered throughout, as well as the indigenous pikmin, which allows Olimar to mount expeditions to secure the needed resource, collect hundreds of pikmin, and find some cool treasures.

Hey! Pikmin Review

Hey! Pikmin takes most of the management features of its console cousins and washes them away, leaving a solid, 2D side-scroller adventure. In true Nintendo fashion, Olimar and his pikmin have various sectors to explore, each with four main levels and a boss battle. Each level has up to three hidden treasures to find, and the player is rewarded for finding them all. There are also markers for finding all the hidden pikmin in a level, and for getting them all out alive. This means that completionists will be playing certain levels over and over to completely “gold” them out. Some early levels cannot be 100% completed until Olimar unlocks new skills later in the game, giving Hey! Pikmin high replayability.

Pikmin Have Variety

Hey! Pikmin features four different types of pikmin: fire, electric, water, rock, and flying. Each race of creatures has a strength that Olimar can exploit on his mission. Olimar throws the pikmin in his retinue to collect seeds, solve puzzles, and to battle enemies. In levels that have a mix of pikmin, the player can switch between them by tapping the icons on the bottom screen. The stylus is also used to tap the whistle icon to call pikmin, and to activate Olimar’s rocket pack. In fact, the entire game is played solely with the circle pad and the stylus, making it easy to control.

Hey! Pikmin Review

When not in a level, the pikmin stay in an area called “Pikmin Park,” and Olimar can send them to various regions of the park to explore for hidden Sparklium and treasures. Adding more and more pikmin speeds up the Pikmin Park exploration, to it serves Olimar’s interests to keep collecting the little creatures. There is also full amiibo support in Hey! Pikmin. Certain amiibo figures can unlock new areas, open up new puzzles, and award pikmin.

Look! Pikmin

The graphics are well done, taking what has always been a somewhat massive three-dimensional game and adapting it to a 2D side scrolling adventure. Both screens are used to create a fuller gaming experience, which is helpful for the epic boss battles. Olimar and the various pikmin look great, as the colors pop off the backgrounds. The enemies are as cute as they are dangerous, and hearing the screams of dying pikmin is a haunting experience. The levels are well designed, with a solid balance of difficulty and ease, opening up Hey! Pikmin to a wide range of players. I find challenge here — and enjoyment — and I know that my 5-year-old niece will too. That’s a Nintendo hallmark, and Hey! Pikmin nails it.

Hey! Pikmin Review

The music in Hey! Pikmin is oddly relaxing, and as I explore every nook and cranny of each level, it soothes me, even as the frustration sets in after seeing a treasure on screen that I just can seem to get to. When not exploring a level in a sector, or directing pikmin to explore in Pikmin Park, the player can also peruse a log that stories info on every creature, pikmin, and treasure in the game. It’s worth checking out, as certain treasures, like a Zelda GameBoy cartridge, has a different name and explanation, one that is mildly humorous.

Pikmin My Heart

The only real downside that I’ve experienced in Hey! Pikmin is in the repetition of levels. While some levels mix it up by adding water and air pockets that have to be figured out, the gist of the game is basically the same, over and over. Explore levels, beat the final boss, move to another sector, rinse, repeat. I’m still having fun playing, and I’m truly enjoying myself, but by the fifth sector, I began to wonder if I should maybe start playing something else, as I felt that I has seen all that Hey! Pikmin had to offer. Younger, less experienced players will be fine with this, but gaming veterans might begin to feel bored after a few hours.

Hey! Pikmin Review

Hey! Pikmin is a fun, portable adaptation of the now-classic Pikmin franchise designed specifically for the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo has done a wonderful job converting this sprawling franchise to a side-scroller, while retaining the fun and excitement of exploration, and giving players something enjoyable to do until the next core console Pikmin game comes, which could be very soon. Hey! Pikmin may not be a game changer, but it does a wonderful job of introducing new players to Olimar and his colorful little friends, and in the end, Hey! Pikmin is fun. That’s all we can really ask for in a game.

Hey! Pikmin is available now for the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS. This review is based off a copy of the game, provided by Nintendo.

out of 5

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