This time there are three astronauts stranded on an uncharted planet who must command seed-like aliens to help them survive. Once again it’s a puzzle of problem-solving built around multi-tasking. Every day you must gather the right mix of helpers to overcome obstacles between you and the food and fuel needed to keep you alive by nightfall and in the long term gather what’s needed to repair the ship to leave.
For players of the first two Pikmin games this must be familiar enough to feel like a remake, but with three astronauts instead of one, separated from each other after the crash, it means the story can shift between their different perspectives and situations creating a more sophisticated narrative. Their conversations help give the story depth and when you bring them together, the way your control of the game expands as you shift from one astronaut to another adds another dimension to the multitasking puzzles as you have to coordinate their efforts.
This means it’s a larger world as three astronauts can cover more ground and so you have to cope with longer distances to organize your troops for more complex situations.
Again, there a five kinds of Pikmin that can earn upgrades by drinking nectar with new flying and rock-smashing skills added to the mix. And again there are big boss creatures with surprising attacks to overwhelm, but the helpful twist is that you can command your Pikmin to “Charge” the creatures en mass, reducing the attrition from the first games where you had to lob the Pikmin to the fight one at a time.
The Deluxe Edition for the Switch tweaks the co-op mode so that two players can take on the game’s Story and Mission modes on the same system and adds a number of difficulty settings so you can tweak the game’s schedule and instead of racing for survival you can work out the multitasking puzzles at your own pace.
It’s this last change that I think might make the difference for many who have given up on the Pikmin games before. That’s the biggest value for a game I enjoyed, but just couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d played it before, having also enjoyed Pikmin 1 & 2.