If You Thought Other Pikmin Games Were Too Stressful, Try Hey! Pikmin
Hey! Pikmin for the Nintendo 3DS is the first-ever handheld Pikmin game. How does it stack up against the classics?
I'd be lying if I said I've played much of the series. Back in the day, I played the original. I remember having a lot of fun managing my resources and solving puzzles, but permanently losing my valuable (and very cute) Pikmin to hungry enemies, drowning and loneliness left me devastated and I quickly abandoned the game.
Years later, the newest entry in the series is a lighter, less stressful take on the classic.
In Hey! Pikmin, you take on the role of Captain Olimar yet again as he crash lands his spaceship on a strange planet full of bizarre creatures including the titular plant-like Pikmin.
The Pikmin are helpful, resourceful little aliens, so Olimar recruits their help. His ship is powered by Sparklium, a fuel derived from shiny objects, so Olimar and the Pikmin explore the world searching for abandoned watches, rings and pens to convert into Sparklium. Only when he's gathered 30,000 of this precious resource will he be able to safely leave the planet and return home.
Finding this Sparklium requires the traversal of 2D environments, befriending Pikmin and utilizing their skills to travel through the planet. While other Pikmin games took place in 3D environments and focused on strategy, Hey! Pikmin is more of a 2D platformer. Instead of worrying about a ticking clock or running out of food, you simply need to collect what you can and make it to the end of the level.
Knowing how to utilize these Pikmin is critical since Olimar can't do much on his own. He can walk around and get onto low platforms with the use of a jet pack, but Pikmin are necessary for any heavy lifting or combat.
Olimar is controlled with the system's circle pad while using Pikmin requires a unique use of the touchscreen. With the stylus, you can tap where you'd like to throw the Pikmin on the screen. These controls are tight and precise. Using a whistle, you can also call on Pikmin in the immediate area, coaxing them to follow you around.
Each Pikmin has its own unique skills and abilities. Red Pikmin are fire resistant while yellow Pikmin are immune to electricity and are super light, allowing Olimar to throw them to great heights. Blue Pikmin can swim, pink winged Pikmin can fly and rock Pikmin are extra strong as well as heavy.
As you progress through the game, it's up to you to understand which Pikmin to utilize, and when. Along the way, there will also be hidden areas to locate, often with Sparklium objects that require multiple Pikmin to grab. If you get your Pikmin killed along the way, you might not have enough to secure these valuable items, forcing you to come back again on another turn.
At the end of each adventure, any surviving Pikmin go off to live at the Pikmin Park. There, you can assign them on missions to locate even more Sparklium. But since your Pikmin go off to start their new lives at the end of every level, you begin each course totally alone.
This isn't too much of a trial, however, because the game isn't stingy with them. Your goal is to protect and save every last one, allowing you to locate all of the land's secrets and fill your Pikmin park. But even if you manage to get every one of your Pikmin gobbled up, there are nests located throughout each level that always houses enough creatures to at least let you finish the area.
The levels are mostly short and sweet, which is perfect for playing them on the go. The game consists primarily of grabbing treasures, conserving your Pikmin and collecting Sparklium in 2D levels.
The game also makes clever use of both 3DS screens, making the area you can see much larger and tucking away secrets that you'll only spot if you keep your eye on the top screen as well as the bottom screen (where most of the action is).
Outside of these levels, the game will also occasionally give you a chance to scan your favorite Amiibo figures, some of which summon in-game versions of your Amiibo. Each one happens to be made of Sparklium and has its own unique description from Olimar. I scanned in my Isabelle Amiibo, whom Olimar dubbed an "Office Pet." The accompanying description proved this game has the same quirky appeal of the old games.
You also have to give the game credit for its graphics. The backgrounds are lush and appealing, and the game's enemies can be just as adorable as the cute little Pikmin themselves.
For those who felt overwhelmed by past Pikmin games, the stripped-down simplicity of this one will be a breath of fresh air. However, if you thrived on carefully managing your Pikmin and thoroughly planning for each area in the old games, you may find this one lacking in depth.
If you've never played a Pikmin game, this straightforward introduction to the series might be the perfect stepping stone toward its tougher predecessors. If you know and love the series already you'll find the same humor and charm here, but before buying, you'll want to consider whether the streamlined gameplay is right for you.
The game retails for $39.99 on the Nintendo 3DS and it's avalable now.
Looking for more great games to add to your 3DS collection? Click HERE for our review of Miitopia.