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Pikmin 4 review — Doggi Dandori

Captain Olimar has crashed on Planet PNF-404… again. And it’s up to the Rescue Corps to find and save him. Unfortunately the Rescue Corps have also crashed, so it’s up to you to rescue the Rescue Corps. You’ll need to work alongside some of the planet’s native lifeforms, the Pikmin, to rescue everyone, fuel your ship, and defend against the hostile nights.

Pikmin 4 represents a new start for the series. It’s meant as an introduction for newcomers and a novel, new experience for veterans. It’s also something of a combination of the games that came before: the discovery of Pikmin 1, the danger and caves of Pikmin 2, and the multitasking of Pikmin 3. All this culminates in the game’s favorite word, Dandori, a Japanese concept of doing things quickly, efficiently, and correctly. There’s no time limit, but because of this focus it makes you want to fit as much into a single in-game day as possible.

Pikmin 4 Video Review --- Doggi Dandori - Switch [Gaming Trend]

The basic structure of Pikmin still remains the same. Each day, you explore a chosen area to discover and collect any treasure or castaways, leading a group of up to 100 Pikmin at once to do so. All Pikmin types from previous games return here too, including red, blue, yellow, white, purple, rock, and flying, along with two new types: ice and glow. Ice Pikmin can freeze objects and enemies. Glow Pikmin are immune to all hazards, but can only be used at night or in caves and cannot be stored in the Onion. Some types get used more frequently than others, but I enjoy the variety, even if you can only have three types on the field at once.

The game’s biggest changes are actually the camera angle and your new dog, Oatchi. It controls similarly to other third person games while still using a cursor for aiming. You can move the cursor with motion controls while throwing Pikmin or whistling, and it works way better here than it did in the Switch ports of 1 and 2. I really like this new perspective, it makes you feel small and brings a magical wonder to everyday objects. I’m reminded of the Studio Ghibli film The Secret World of Arrietty, pillows and staircases are massive mountains and may take some time to surmount. Only one area really leans into this aesthetic, taking place in a house, but you’ll see traces of humanity all over the place.

The game is gorgeous too, using a realistic style that’s uncharacteristic of Nintendo but serves to make the world look alien to our more cartoony characters. You can zoom the camera in and out to take in all the details, and you may notice some little touches that really make this feel like a living, breathing world like the sounds of your Pikmin squad’s footsteps or Oatchi’s panting and excited barks.

Oatchi is something like your co-captain in Pikmin 4. You can take control of him, order him to go certain places, and have him command his own group of Pikmin, but you and he have very different abilities. For example, you can tell Oatchi to round up idle Pikmin while you’re working on something else, have him battle an enemy on his own, or dig through special tunnels only he can enter. Conversely, there are places Oatchi is too big to enter and you may have to go on a solo adventure for a bit. Your captain (and your Pikmin) can also ride Oatchi to cross bodies of water, hazardous terrain, or just move a bit faster.

It’s a ton of fun dividing up tasks between the two of you and knowing when to split up or come together. I do wish player two could take control of Oatchi, but instead they get the Pebble Pitcher which allows them to help by throwing rocks at enemies and earning consumable items. Both you and your good boy will learn new skills and traits by spending raw materials at the lab after rescuing the scientist. Raw materials are blue stones that have a variety of uses, including creating structures like bridges or ladders, so you’ll want to spend them wisely. It all feeds into the concept of dandori, both in the moment to moment gameplay and the bigger picture.

Each day in Pikmin 4 takes 15 real minutes, though time does not pass at your home base and moves at 1/6th time in a cave. Once you’ve chosen an area to explore, you’ll fly there in your rescue pod along with the Onion to get things started. Eventually you’ll be able to take out a maximum of 100 Pikmin, but the Onion will limit you starting off with only 20. You need to find Farlic to increase that number and have Pikmin carry it back to the Onion.

Thankfully, as you explore you’ll find new bases to move your pod and Onion to. This lets exploration be a bit more freeform too. Do you quickly set up all the bases in an area? Or comb through the surroundings one at a time? There are even different ways to encounter each Pikmin type, with their colored Onions showing up in multiple places. I took the time to 100% each area before moving on, but I imagine saving certain tasks for later would allow you to finish the game in fewer days.

While previous Pikmin games have focused on replayability, 4 might just be the length of all three titles combined. There’s a lot to do here, and much of it is underground. You’ll find cave entrances scattered all over the place, with different types of challenges waiting within. Some are like Pikmin 2’s caves, layered labyrinths with enemies to kill, treasure to find, and the odd boss to battle, while others contain Dandori Battles and Challenges.

Dandori Battles have you going head to head with a mysterious Leafling creature to see who can get a higher score. These are basically a single player version of the 2 player battle mode, but it’s still fun to plan out defeating certain enemies, leaving others for the AI to contend with, or even stealing and sabotaging your opponent. Dandori Challenges meanwhile have you going for the high score alone, with a set amount of treasures and enemies instead of an infinitely respawning set. You can’t take your squad of Pikmin into either dandori type, so you really need to spawn seeds and manage your Pikmin well.

Thankfully Oatchi can also do almost everything a Pikmin can, including carrying items back to base, destroying walls, or activating shortcuts. He’ll also return to you after completing a task, which is incredibly convenient and an integral part of managing time in Dandori Challenges. If you want that coveted Platinum medal for getting everything before time runs out you can’t waste any time, especially with later challenges. You may not have a time limit overall, but time management really is the name of the game here.

After a certain point, you’ll unlock Olimar’s Shipwreck Tale, a reimagining of the first game with the new areas and a 15 day time limit. This is a neat way to add the stress of time back in the game while keeping the main game comparatively more relaxed. It’s entirely optional and messes up the series timeline, but well worth testing your skills in.

There’s so much to do in Pikmin 4, and you will unfortunately come across some issues regularly. In particular, the AI for the Pikmin feels dumber than 3, with several instances of them walking into hazards repeatedly or refusing to grab a specific object. This is consistent throughout the game and I never really learned how to work around these quirks, so it feels more like a flaw than them being dumb intentionally like the first title. Past the halfway point though, the game starts getting glitchy. It’s not as bad as the ports of 1 and 2, but you’ll see enemies not dying when their health is depleted, or paper bags not getting crushed even after throwing the required amount of Pikmin on top. None of these are game breaking, but they can take you out of your dandori trance and could add a bit of time on a run through the game trying to beat it as quick as you can. The loading times are a consistent annoyance as well, taking just long enough to be annoying whenever you enter an area, cave, or sub-level.

I would also say combat is a bit too easy. This game really isn’t about fighting enemies, they’re more obstacles than adversaries, but when even most bosses take less than 30 seconds everything starts to feel less hazardous. There are some formidable foes to find here, the final boss is a lot of fun to fight, but with no difficulty options I’d like to see PNF-404’s fauna put up more of a struggle.

Lastly, let’s talk about night expeditions. Unlike the more freeform exploration of daytime, night missions have you defending a point or two on the map against a swarm of enemies with only Glow Pikmin. Enemies will become more aggressive as the night goes on, so it may be worth your while to take a few out before they get stronger. For example, in later night missions you’ll encounter several of the dreaded Smoky Progg, which can instantly kill your Pikmin if they so much as touch the gas it emits, but you can take out their egg early in the night so they don’t hatch. You need to balance building up your squad by taking glowing objects back to the point while defeating enemies so your base isn’t destroyed. It’s fun and some of the most challenging parts of the game, rewarding you with a single dose of cure for infected leaflings.

David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.

Pikmin 4 review — Doggi Dandori
90

Excellent

Pikmin 4

Review Guidelines

Pikmin 4 is a triumphant return for one of Nintendo’s most delightful series. The focus on dandori feels like a revelation that lets everything click together so well you’ll want to sneak in just one more day. It may be a tad too easy, but the real challenge is completing the game quickly and efficiently. This is a gorgeous and engaging title that’s surprisingly lengthy, and another feather in the Switch’s cap.

David Flynn

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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