Pikmin 4 Review

Pikmin 4 is the first game developed solely for the Nintendo Switch, as all the previous games were released for other console generations before being ported to the Switch. With a few new tricks up it’s sleeve, we expect the same level of fun as the previous games with hopefully a sprinkle of new features to set it apart from the previous games.

The story starts off with a rescue mission but not just any rescue, the rescue of none other than Captain Olimar which quickly turns into the rescue mission of the rescue team that was sent before you to rescue him. I do feel as if they really need to get better rescuers. You play as the rookie of the rescue team, having been dispatched since the more experienced members are now in need of rescue.

It’s from the start that Pikmin 4 starts to differentiate itself from the previous games in the series. You no longer play as Olimar, at least not for the main story, but can create your own character, customizing its appearance. Obviously, don’t expect the same type of character creations as some of the larger games as they do offer a very limited selection of options. It’s very much akin to the Mii creator from the Wii days, there are sufficient options to at least make your character look unique.

The opening explains the basics of the game and introduces you to Oatchi, a rescue pup who you can ride on and control, much like the titular Pikmin but slightly more resilient. Once you have gotten through the tutorial section, you get introduced to the hub, where all the rescued team members gather to share information, get side missions and level up skills. This is also where you set off on your missions to try and locate the rest of the rescue team.

One of the new features that was very much needed, especially since the actual levels are significantly larger than previous games, is the ability to move your space craft and the Pikmin Onion to other areas in the levels. This allows you to quickly replace lost Pikmin or gather treasures without having to haul it back to the start of the stage. Oh, and they merged the Onion into one so no need to run between different colours to replenish lost Pikmin. Also, to make traversal even faster, you can hop on Otachi, load him up with Pikmin and run around at a much faster speed then what your legs can carry you. This is also beneficial in combat as you can make Otachi charge an enemy and any attached Pikmin automatically latch themselves on to the enemy once it hits, allowing you to quickly get a surprise attack in and quite a bit of damage before the enemy can retaliate.

As you progress in the game, collecting treasures and trying to rescue castaways, you are introduced to Dondori battles, Japanese for efficient planning, which pits you against an opponent to try and collect as many treasures as possible, creatures and other items to earn points. The player with the most points after the set time wins the battle. Along with points, you can find items that allows you to handicap the opponent, slowing them down to try and get an advantage. These are sprinkled in the single player to advance the story every so often to rescue crew members, but I am not a huge fan of them, especially as they are forced upon you to progress. There is also an option to just play the Dondori battles on their own, either against another player or team up against a CPU opponent outside of the story mode so you can practice or want a break from the story. 

Olimar’s Shipwreck Tale is a side story where you get to play as, guess who, Captain Olimar as you experience the situation that led up to the main story and the initial rescue. This is a stripped-down version of the main story gameplay as it follows in the footsteps of the original Pikmin game by having Olimar looking for pieces of the broken S.S. Dolphin. With a few quality-of-life improvements and with only the companion dog being one of the only new features being used. Other than that, you are limited to only 3 colours of Pikmin, the original trio of red, blue and yellow, a time limit of 15 days before the life support system fails and you only progress further as you find more of the S.S. Dolphins parts scattered around.

As mentioned before, not only can you play the Dondori battles with a 2nd player, but the entire story can be as well. While not having the option of having 2 players on the screen at the same time, Player 1 plays as per normal with Player 2 supporting them by using a Pebble Pitcher to throw, you guessed it, pebbles. These can damage enemies, break walls and help boost Pikmin carrying speed for a short time. This also applies to Dondori Battles with players teaming up against a CPU opponent. This is a bit underwhelming if you want to try and play through the game co-op but does serve as a nice distraction if a player just wants to help or just be involved.

While the game is lots of fun, it can be a bit too simplistic and with very little in the way of difficulty, can get a bit boring fast and can run through the story in an equal manner. Unless you are going for a 100% completion or enjoy playing the Dondori battles, don’t expect to be busy for too long. Adding a full-blown co-op campaign with both players taking on the role of rescuers, I do think the game would have been quite a bit more fun and the perfect formula for utter chaos.

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Good

  • General quality of life improvements to the Pikmin formula
  • Oodles of content

Bad

  • Not much variety in the character creator
  • Forced Dandori battles
  • Underwhelming Co-op gameplay

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Score

7.4
Story
Audio
Graphics
Gameplay
Replayability