Pikmin 3 Deluxe review – An underrated and overlooked gem

Pikmin 3 Deluxe is better than ever on the Nintendo Switch. This is a game that I already reviewed and enjoyed on Wii U way back in 2013, and I love it even more now.

When I picked up Pikmin 3 Deluxe on Switch, I didn’t expect to play it for very long. I figured I’d do a quick check-in and then write something based on that. But once I started playing, I couldn’t stop. I finished the story in a single weekend, which is something I almost never do. And now I’m going back and getting the rest of the fruit.

A lot of my attraction to Pikmin 3 Deluxe is due to the aesthetic and vibe. It’s a pleasant world to spend time in. The pikmin characters are cute, and the environment is vivacious. But this game’s most appealing attribute is its gameplay loop. That’s what really drew me in.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe: A game about getting stuff to get more stuff

Pikmin 3’s loop is a familiar one. You start out with nothing. All you can do is move around in a space. As you explore, you’ll find something that expands your capabilities. In this case, you find the yellow pikmin that conduct electricity and are lightweight. Using these new abilities, you can now push further into the world and find new pikmin or other abilities. This leads to your problems becoming more complicated, but you’re also better equipped to solve them, because you have more capabilities and because you’re better at the game.

You’ll find this loop in a lot of games. My favorite example is Steamworld Dig 2. Both this and Pikmin have a system where you have to regularly return to your base. In Dig, you need to return to the surface because your pockets get too full. In Pikmin 3 Deluxe, it’s because the day ends. While I prefer Dig’s way of doing things, because it limits the stress, the results are effectively the same. Both give you a chance to restart from zero but now you have more resources and a better chance of pushing even further on your next run.

Pikmin 3 really shines in this structure because it’s small. Or the characters are tiny in a large world. This is a conceit from the original Pikmin. You play as characters who land on a world brimming with giant batteries and other household goods. It feels like a world where humans used to exist.

But this Honey, I Shrunk the Kids art style has ramifications on the gameplay. The play areas are often just tiny little ditches. And while they feel like mountains to the characters, you can easily look over the dirt hills and see what’s waiting for you out in the world.

This has an effect where every collectible and powerup feels just out of your grasp. And if you really pushed, you could probably get anything on your next run.

That’s where Pikmin 3’s “just one more day” hooks get into you. And it’s why I couldn’t put the game down.

What makes this ‘Deluxe’?

I love Pikmin 3 Deluxe, but you don’t need to play it again if you already did on Wii U. Now, I know that only applies to like six of us. And I did enjoy playing it again. But this is the same game as on the Wii U. There’s some new stuff and some smart edits. You get more powerup spray in levels now. The lock-on system is also really great. You can also now get to the map by pausing the game instead of having it on the second screen, like on the Wii U.

As for the new stuff, some of it is great. You can now play the story in local cooperative mode. Nintendo also added “side stories” starring Olimar and Louie. These are an OK distraction, but they’re not as substantial as the campaign. Don’t buy this package to get access just to this content. This version also comes with the Wii U version’s downloadable content, which I’m sure only a fraction of Pikmin 3 Wii U owners ever bought.

The main attraction here is still the core campaign. This experience is strong enough to hold up the entire game.

Go play Pikmin 3: Deluxe right now

I’m thrilled that I had another great excuse to play through it. And I’m really hoping this is paving the way for a Pikmin 4. Even if you bounced off of Pikmin, I think Nintendo has ironed out a lot of the wrinkles that acted as a barrier for this franchise. The controls are solid and friendly. Even the camera never really causes frustrations. Give this game a shot. It’s worth it. I’m giving Pikmin 3 Deluxe 4 stars.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe is available for Nintendo Switch on October 30 for $60. Nintendo sent a review code to GamesBeat for the purposes of this review. 


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