Review: Pikmin 3 Deluxe (Switch)

A great game is even more so thanks to some smart quality of life tweaks and fresh content.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 11/02/2020 23:32 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Gameplay loop is addicting, with the opportunity to return and find all fruit or improve completion times the perfect way to keep players coming back for more; incredible art direction; performance is solid; new content is fun; co-op works well in the main campaign
Poison Mushroom for...
Lock-on can result in some unwelcome deaths; some may bemoan the resolution and frames per second

When Pikmin 3 launched on Wii U back in 2013, we flipped our lids over the game, stating in our review that despite “a few flaws, [it] is simply another Nintendo masterpiece.” Seven years later, Pikmin 3 Deluxe is now available on Nintendo Switch and remains every bit as engrossing today as it was then, with some quality of life improvements and new content to make it even better than ever. In this review we’ll mostly tackle the changes and additions brought about by Pikmin 3 Deluxe, but for a more thorough overview of the game please click the link above to read our original analysis. Without further ado, let’s talk about all of the things that make Pikmin 3 Deluxe the best version of a modern classic.

Alph, Brittany, and their mustachioed Captain are the heroes of Pikmin 3 Deluxe. The trio hails from Koppai, a planet that has been brought to the brink of ruin by an over expenditure of its environment’s natural resources. Probes dubbed SPEROS have been sent out to the farthest reaches of space in order to find a planet that bares organic matter edible to the people of Koppai. After a successful ping leads them into the cold vacuum of the stars, the three explorers crash land on planet PNF-404 and must reunite, gather fruit to survive and to take home, and restore their ship. All with the help of the affable Pikmin creatures whose elemental abilities allow them to do everything from resist fire and electricity, fly through the air, and more.

In Pikmin 3 Deluxe, the same game loop of amassing an army of Pikmin to attack enemies, solve puzzles, and gather fruit and resources to return to the trio’s ship before nightfall remains intact and addicting. The first two Pikmin games oscillated between a rigid set of days to complete Olimar’s mission and an open-ended structure that was possibly too generous with its timer. Pikmin 3 provided a more reasonable middle ground that allows players to add extra days of exploration to their journey based on how much fruit they manage to harvest. Each hunk of fruit yields a certain amount of juice; each jar filled is another day on PNF-404. It’s a smart system that rewards diligent explorers by empowering them to earn more days as opposed to just giving time out for free.

On Switch, what was already a beautiful game on Wii U has grown more so with age. The resolution appears to be locked in at 720p at 30 fps. Some might bemoan the fact that Nintendo didn’t have developer Eighting (which handled porting duties) kick things up a notch for this Switch iteration, but there are a couple of factors to consider. For one, upscaling isn’t always the best bet for older games; sometimes pushing graphics to higher resolutions actually works to bring out flaws or shortcomings that weren’t noticeable before. Frames per second might seem like a different story, but Pikmin regularly can have a lot happening on-screen which could potentially prove problematic for the processor. Giving fans the best version of Pikmin 3 that Switch can handle from a performance standpoint is arguably the smartest move.

The creativity of the design team is still mesmerizing nearly a decade on. While PNF-404 is never called Earth, between the fruit and some of the various artifacts that the squad picks up, it’s clear that this is either our home or one very similar to it. What makes everything sing, though, is the diminutive size of our heroes, the Pikmin, and their enemies. The giant pieces of fruit filling the screen are mouthwatering, while the incredibly innovative enemy designs are simultaneously fascinating and creepy. Vehemoth Phosbat and Scornet Maestro are a couple of real standouts, but the whole lot of bosses are visually memorable, not to mention satisfyingly challenging to beat. Seeing Pikmin 3 Deluxe stand head and shoulders with games designed today is a testament to what a work of art it was, to begin with.

The controls have been adjusted to accommodate for the lack of a second screen on Switch. The KopPad, Alph and the crew’s tablet device, was a stand-in for Wii U’s GamePad and offered a number of ways to play the game, including a persistent map to peek at. Alas, the constant map is no more, as are the touch screen controls, but the scheme that has been implemented is still very good. Locking onto enemies has been transitioned to the ZR button, which tends to work most of the time but can occasionally be finnicky when enemies and Pikmin begin to flood the screen. Co-op is a breeze, with a friend able to hop in and out with ease. It’s a feature that was restricted to the Bingo Battle mode in Pikmin 3, but in Deluxe the whole campaign can be experienced this way.

Difficulty level can be adjusted by the player, with the Ultra-Spicy setting available right from the outset for those who play the demo. It’s a worthwhile investment for players who prefer a steeper challenge, especially considering that the demo comprises the first few days of exploration and progress carries over to the full retail version of Pikmin 3 Deluxe. For those who want an easier time of things, there’s now the option to press up on the D-pad at any time in order to receive an in-game hint for guidance. Purists will likely abstain from its use, but the tool is there for those who can use a helping hand.

Finally, all DLC from the original Pikmin 3 is provided on the cartridge, including the Side Stories prologue, Olimar’s Assignment. This chunk of narrative details how Olimar and Louie wound up in the situation that they’re in at the beginning of Pikmin 3 Deluxe. This content is a bit slight in that it never rises to the complexity or charm of the main game, but it adds a layer to the story that is nonetheless welcome. There’s also an epilogue (developed by Eighting) which has been added to Pikmin 3 Deluxe that we won’t spoil here. Note that this new post-ending material doesn’t really contribute to or alter any of the story that precedes it; this last batch of Side Stories serves more as a fresh set of challenge stages that will be especially appealing to speedrunners. Regardless, like the prologue it’s still fun and provides more of the gameplay that makes Pikmin 3 Deluxe so entertaining.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe manages to outshine its predecessor with further polish and more content. The inclusion of new Side Stories, co-op in the main campaign, and debatably the best control scheme this game has yet seen all make Pikmin 3 Deluxe the definitive version to play. It’s not the longest title in the Switch library, but with the opportunity to replay days to scour for every piece of fruit or improve completion times will have most people returning to Pikmin 3 Deluxe for weeks and months to come. Do yourself a favor and give Pikmin 3 Deluxe a purchase, especially if you missed out the first time when it launched on Wii U. It’s the sort of offbeat game that the industry needs more of.

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