As the Switch continues to receive ports of Wii U games, the number of true exclusives on Nintendo's previous console is starting to dwindle. Pikmin 3 is the latest game to be given the Switch treatment, and while the majority of its improvements are minor, so far it looks like they're all positive ones.
For those not familiar with the game. Pikmin 3 doesn't feature Captain Olimar as its main protagonist this time. Instead, the main story revolves around three new characters called Alph, Brittany and Charlie. While scouting various planets in search of food for their famine-stricken home planet of Koppai, the trio crash-lands on the planet PNF-404 and are initially separated.
The three reunite fairly early into the game, but they aren’t out of the woods yet (literally). Now they have to find their ship’s missing Cosmic Drive Key in order to leave the planet and head back home, while also making sure they can find enough food to stay alive. Luckily, they soon encounter the Pikmin and strike up a working relationship with them in no time at all.
Although its Deluxe moniker means that a number of new features have been added, it may come as a surprise to learn that not all of the Wii U version’s features have made the jump across to the Switch. The original Wii U release offered a number of different control schemes, and while some of these have been implemented in the Switch version, others have been left out.
Most notable is the lack of touchscreen support, something that was eventually added to the Wii U game after fans requested it. For some players, this made aiming your Pikmin far more intuitive, and given the Switch’s handheld nature we’re sure it would have appealed to some here, too. Sadly, it’s not to be: you either have to use the standard twin-stick controls (the left to aim and the right to rotate the camera) or activate the gyro controls.
These make use of the right Joy-Con’s motion sensors, and let you move the target around like a makeshift Wii Remote. As anyone who’s played Super Mario Galaxy port in 3D All-Stars will testify, this solution can sometimes lead to the cursor going wayward, so as in Galaxy, you can press the R button to centre it whenever you like.
Thankfully, most of the other changes involve adding or improving things rather than removing them. A good example is the revamped lock-on system. Locking onto enemies and other items was a bit fiddly on the Wii U but now it’s a bit easier; you just move the cursor over your target, tap the ZR button and you’ll immediately lock onto it. You can then keep tapping the button to toggle between other potential targets that are nearby. It can still take a little getting used to, but it’s certainly better than it was before.
There's also a new hint system, which we’re sure definitely won’t annoy anyone on the internet. If you find yourself stuck with no idea where to go next, you can simply press up on the D-pad and you receive a pop-up information box telling you what you should be looking to do next, accompanied by a set of blue arrows that appear on the floor to guide you to your next destination.
Obviously, this will infuriate some purists who don't believe a game like Pikmin, where exploration is the central point, should be guiding players by the hand in this manner. At the end of the day, though, you can turn it off in the options, and if something like this can help newcomers to the series find their footing, then we’re all for it. And besides, there are now harder difficulty levels to choose from so all you “it’s all about the challenge” lot can put your money where your mouth is.
Outside of the main Story mode, you still have the Mission mode where you take on a series of small stages and are tasked with either collecting treasure, battling enemies or fighting bosses. This mode now comes with all the previous paid DLC missions included as standard: this makes for a total of 36 missions, all of which can be played either solo or split-screen (co-op fans will be happy to know the entire Story mode can now be played with a partner too).
But what if you're a massive Pikmin 3 fan who’s already thoroughly rinsed the original Wii U game and has already seen and done everything that version had to offer, DLC and all? Well, that’s when the new Side Stories mode comes into play. This takes the form of a series of prologue and epilogue missions, complete with new cutscenes, that explain what happened to Olimar and Louie before and after the events of the game.
It’s too early for now to see exactly how much content is present in these Side Stories and just how meaty they’ll be, but we’ve played the first couple so far and they appear to be similar to Mission mode, where you’re given a limited time to gather as much fruit and other items as you can, and are then awarded a different medal depending on how well you performed. So far, though, it seems like the Side Stories will offer a reasonable bonus for fans of Pikmin 3, even if they’ve yet to prove it’s worth buying the game a second time purely to play them.
It's so far so good, then. We're still working away through the game at the time of writing this, but we can already feel ourselves getting sucked in and going “let’s just play one more day, okay, one more after that” like we did with the Wii U version. Although the changes that have been made don't appear to be massively transformational so far, the majority of them make sense and seem to make for a more user-friendly experience. As long as it keeps this up throughout the rest of the game, we may well have another Switch must-have on our hands.
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