Release Date: July 13, 2017
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
ESRB: E 10+
Hey! Pikmin is brand new side-scrolling adventure set on the 3DS. You play as the lovable protagonist Captain Olimar and his squad of Pikmin. When your ship has crash landed on a mysterious alien planet you must gather enough fuel in order to return home. Hey! Pikmin is a bite-sized adventure that is perfect to take on the go as levels are small and short but offer great exploration and puzzle solving. Frame rate hiccups, locked content and replayability hold this small game from achieving a great ride from start to finish. Hey! Pikmin is a great game for younger players but may lack the depth and gameplay style of the mainstream Pikmin games.
Captain Olimar’s Small Adventure!
Captain Olimar’s adventure begins when his ship is damaged during space flight and lands on a mysterious world filled with small islands with different topography. His trusty ship’s AI tells him that he needs to collect a minimum of 30,000 Sparklium which he is to use to fuel, if they ever seek to return back to his home planet, Hocotate. This seems like a herculean task for Olimar. Using his fellow Pikmin, he will have to find treasures hidden on each island that can be converted into Sparklium as well as gathering the seeds that can also be used as a fuel source.
There are a total of eight islands that Captain Olimar and the Pikimin need to explore to gather enough resources and Pikmin to return home. Each island embodies a different theme, such as an island engulfed in flames, an industrial island, undergrounds mines, etc. Each island is separated into Sectors that Olimar must complete in order to progress. Oftentimes, there are at least five Sectors per islands including a boss fight in each final sector being a creature that swallowed or possesses a treasure that is worth 1000 Sparklium.
Each area can be fully completed if Olimar finds all the treasures hidden in that level and keep 20 Pikmin alive by the end of the sector. This system is similar to other mobile games titles like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and Scribblenauts. Fully completing a sector achieves a rating similar to a 3 star rating system featured in those games. As you help Olimar explore each island, you must help gather enough Pikmin to send them to the Pikmin Park and obtain more Sparklium.
The Pikmin Park will help gather more Sparklium passively while Olimar explores various Sectors and islands. Any Pikmin that you accumulate at the end of a level will be sent to Pikmin Park. This area allows Pikmin to scour through grass, fire, electric thorns and crystals to obtain more Sparklium Seeds and any hidden treasure. Both Olimar and his Pikmin are always actively looking for more fuel. The park allows the Pikmin you’ve collected to help gather more fuel during his excursions. Completing Secret Sectors allows Olimar to obtain Pellets that add more Pikmin to Pikmin Park.
Exploring each area is fun and relaxing but there isn’t much to do once you’ve completed the game. You could always go back and retrieve treasures you missed or finding Secret Spots and Sparklium Springs. These areas themselves aren’t worth it on their own once you’ve reached all the fuel you need to beat the game. There are extra levels and more Sparklium to discover through the use of the Pikmin Amiibo which are not necessary to beat the game.
Pikmin are Great, But the Control’s Aren’t
Without his ship, Olimar himself is limited to his own method of travel using a Jetpack and Energy Tank. The Jetpack allows Olimar to fly over small gaps and his Energy Tank is his health, both are upgraded several times once you’ve obtained a specific amount of Sparklium. Hey! Pikmin’s control scheme is somewhat similar to Kirby: Canvas Curse. The player can control Olimar’s movement with the Circle Pad and throw Pikmin with the stylus. Everything done in the game is decided on the bottom screen since the stylus is your main control method.
Tapping the Whistle will call your current Pikmin back to you or summon new Pikmin that are hiding in specific spots like bushes, behind a rock or in a small patch of flowers. Next to the Whistle is Olimar’s Jetpack, tapping the Jetpack icon will allow Olimar to fly for a short amount of time. If the player finds more than one type of Pikmin, like Red Pikmin and Rock Pikmin, they can tap which Pikmin to select on their respective symbol to switch between them. This comes in handy when having to switch between various Pikmin to solve an environmental puzzle or to defeat certain enemies.
In theory, this is a great way to create a small on the go adventure by throwing Pikmin with the stylus to gather resources, solve puzzles and defeat enemies while moving Olimar with the Circle Pad. However, frame rate issues will often have you fighting the controls when you can’t perform the actions you want smoothly. There are several times that exploring poses as no problems but when traversing dangerous environments you will often lose Pikmin because you threw them rather than tapping the Whistle icon. There are several sections of the game that players can take their time to explore or backtrack for a relaxing experience.
Latter Sectors become tedious and mildly frustrating because the frame rate and controls become a hindrance. Having to defeat several monsters on screen, while switching Pikmin, and avoiding hazards will slow the game down and cause unintended deaths; having to redo the level again. Hey! Pikmin may have its flaws but it’s an enjoyable adventure that emphasize the use of different Pikmin to solve and traverse each each island.
There are a total of five groups of Pikmin that are given to the player when found in the wild. Captain Olimar cannot bring any Pikmin with him when he starts a Sector as he must find the Pikmin throughout the level. Knowing which Pikmin to use and how to use them is half the fun in Hey! Pikmin. Red Pikmin can withstand fire and heat which allows them to cross fire and defeat fire enemies. Blue Pikmin can breathe underwater and swim alongside Captain Olimar. Yellow Pikmin are light in weight and can be thrown higher than the others while also being immune to electricity. Rock Pikmin are heavy and can break various obstacles and hard shelled enemies. Winged Pikmin can fly and also help Olimar float gently between big gaps.
Knowing each Pikmin’s unique attributes will help find hidden pathways and navigate dangerous sections of the game. Hey! Pikmin is a smaller spin off title but it carries the essence of working and battling dangerous creatures with your Pikmin. Captain Olimar and the Pikmin are hilarious and cute as the game will often present each new group of Pikmin in a fun in-game cutscene.
A Beautiful and Dangerous Alien World
Hey! Pikmin is a gorgeous game that fits perfectly on both the top and bottom screens. The sense of scale is impressive when compared the main line Pikmin games, often times those games never fully achieve the sense of a miniature world. Having the 3DS dual screens helps the player immerse themselves in Captain Olimar’s tiny world. There is a lot of care and attention to detail that helps each island stand out from each other, which includes beautiful artwork for both the background and foreground. Each Sector is brimming with radiance and small design decisions that makes the game identify each area with unique color pallets.
Let’s take the Sector 3: Sparkling Labyrinth, the theme for this island is underground caverns which can be achieved with the usual earthy tones. Hey! Pikmin instead uses several bright and white Crystals, different shades of blues and purples, and several rocks look like they are made of Onyx. Each Sector fully utilizes and embraces the themes that they are based on and adds unique elements to help the world feel alive and huge. Sector One: Brilliant Garden is a lush forest/grassland with small details like sunlight, pollen in the air, and gentle breezes throughout the levels.
Even the UI to travel to different Sectors is a small-scale version of the planet that you can spin and move, when a much more simpler over-world could have been created instead. Each environment resembles topography that we’ve seen on Earth but each carries a small twist the further you explore the game. The sights and sounds in Hey! Pikmin is one of the key aspects of the game that helps create a relaxing and fun exploration game.
Hey! Pikmin is a great small title that should be enjoyed by all on the 3DS. It sports great lush environments and bite-sized levels that can be completed on the go. Traversing and finding hidden treasure with Captain Olimar and the Pikmin is fun and enjoyable. However, the last quarter of the game can become frustrating because of the frame rate and performance issues. This title is aimed for a much smaller and younger audience but I still enjoyed what the game had to offer; a small excursion when compared to mainstream Pikmin games. The puzzle solving, lush and detailed environments and exploration helps create a fun small adventure with Captain Olimar and the Pikmin. Overall, Hey! Pikmin is enjoyable if a bit light adventure when compared to other Nintendo games at a $39.99 price point. Hey! Pikmin’s levels and exploration do however lend themselves well when playing on the go but lacks content since it can be beaten quickly if in heavy gaming sessions.
- THE GOOD
- Great Artwork and Background Designs
- Fun Exploration
- THE BAD
- Frame Rate Drops
- No Replay-ability
Hey! Pikmin is a fun-bite sized adventure for the 3DS but technical limitations keeps it from reaching its full potential.