The penultimate nail in the Wii U’s coffin has finally arrived, and it’s about time. Get ready for serene nature and adorable sentient carrots in Pikmin 3 Deluxe, complete with new features and content. This is probably the best Switch-enhanced Wii U port to have graced the hybrid console.
The Pikmin formula really hasn’t changed that much since the original game launched in the GameCube era, but that’s a good thing because they struck gold the first time. Your journey consists of landing on a subtly post-human extinction version of Earth and collecting fruit and treasures with the help of the titular pikmin. These lovable little creatures will attack hostile creatures, destroy obstacles and collect items according to your orders, and each variety of Pikmin has specific abilities.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe‘s new easy mode makes it the most relaxed game in the series, but you can still play at the original difficulty if you want a little more stress. The maps feel smaller and the enemies less fierce, but that didn’t diminish the experience at all. The maps may be smaller but they don’t achieve this by eliminating content: the maps simply lack the empty space that plagued earlier entries in the series, which makes Pikmin 3 feel more focused.
The boss battles more than make up for the pushover normal enemies, as even on the easiest difficulty they provide a nice challenge and require a bit more strategic thinking. The optional hints are a welcome safety net but you can easily ignore them.
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The Deluxe in the title doesn’t just mean “it’s on the Switch now” either. The new content consists of a much-appreciated photo mode, that allows you to take first person photos. Sadly in large groups, pikmin aren’t very photogenic, but the addition is still very entertaining. I often found myself stopping to take a picture of a sleeping enemy or the flowers that sprout out of the pikmin’s heads, even when I had more pressing tasks at hand. There are also two new sets of missions set before and after the main story. The goal in these is to gather fruit and gold to save Olimar’s freight company (for the third time; they should really consult an accountant). Instead of going with the usual day/night timeframe, each stage has a numerical timer. These stages are shorter and have a more arcade-style feel to them. These are perhaps more replayable than the main story, as getting a high score in these frantic stages is a steep challenge.
World / Level Design
The stages in Pikmin 3 Deluxe are beautifully designed and almost feel completely alive. The earlier entries were limited by the GameCube’s capabilities, but this game is so lush and full of nooks and crannies to explore that it’s in a league of its own. The fruit (your primary objective) is spread around each stage in clever ways, making you carefully plan out your party and use each kind of pikmin to their full potential. Having three characters to control also makes for some interesting puzzle design: some objectives require you to be operating in different areas of the map simultaneously. What this all adds up to is a wonderfully rendered world that looks just as good as it is functional.
Story / Personality
The story is typical of the series: tiny people from another planet come to gather resources on an earth proxy with the help of Pikmin. While the story isn’t all that interesting, there’s still enough wit and characterization to be passable. Honestly though, your job is to get fruit and fix your spaceship. Outside of that basic framework, you don’t have to pay much attention.
Graphics / Art Direction
Pikmin 3 Deluxe looks phenomenal, despite capping at 720p in docked mode and 576p in handheld mode. It runs incredibly smoothly (granted only at 30fps) and all the scenery is breathtaking. Between the mesmerizing water mechanics and backgrounds that look alive, there isn’t anything I would change about the way the graphics in Pikmin 3 Deluxe was handled. The only time the graphics get wonky are in photo mode, when pikmin kind of blend together while they render. This is incredibly minor and totally inconsequential to the experience.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is a work of art, in spite of the limitations of the Switch.
Final Score: 95%
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the best thing to come out of the Wii U remasters Nintendo loves to do. This game feels like it was meant to be played on the go, but also looks phenomenal on the big screen. Pikmin 3 Deluxe cut off the dead weight of the Wii U GamePad and added the new content to create a tremendous experience. This game was always meant to be played on the Switch. With this (and my pipe dream of a ZombiU remaster), we can lay the Wii U to rest.
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