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Pikmin 4 Review: A Pikmin To Remember

EDITORS' RATING : 9 / 10
Pros
  • Beautiful and perfectly crafted world and characters
  • The nostalgic soundtrack elevates the game's immersion
  • New mechanics and accessibility options make this a very easy game to quickly pick up and play
Cons
  • Very little challenge for hardcore Pikmin players
  • The story feels plain at times
  • System limitations are seldom noticeable

A PC code was provided to ZaaZ for this review. "Pikmin 4"is available now on Nintendo Switch.

Another one of the biggest Nintendo games of the year has released. Joining the likes of "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom," this could be one of the biggest launches of the year for games, alongside games like "Final Fantasy 16" or even "Diablo IV". "Pikmin 4" is here and has already left a mark on the gaming landscape, but especially in the hearts of "Pikmin" fans who expected a great experience, and got one.

How does this game fare against "Pikmin 3" or even the first two? Well, this game is a great entry to the franchise and it is a very well-crafted piece that combines different successful elements from its predecessors, along with some new features.. The challenge, game design, some sandbox elements, and exploration make this the most balanced entry of the franchise. "Pikmin 4" is extremely satisfying and we're a bit obsessed with how fun this game is.

We have an Oatchi

"Pikmin" and its unique mechanics — being able to master the art of guiding your Pikmin and every activity you have to complete — is encapsulated into the "Dandori" Japanese concept. This concept explains our ability to multitask strategically with the best time management possible. If you have played previous entries in the franchise, you have perhaps applied Dandori while facing many enemies and challenges. Now, thanks to several new mechanics, the ability to do multiple tasks at once is especially streamlined. Why, you ask? One word: Oatchi.

This little fellow is perhaps the perfect introduction to "Pikmin 4." Oatchi is a little pet that not only exudes cuteness but also usefulness. He can pick up objects and he can attack, but the most useful skill, by far, is the Rush ability. This is a head-first strike that will deal a great amount of damage to enemies, while also destroying certain objects in the way, opening new paths. Oftentimes, you can even discover some secrets left on top of structures that just need a little nudge to fall to ground level.

There are a total of nine Pikmin types, from the average fire-resistant Red Pikmin to the ghastly and incorporeal Glow Pikmin. Each one of them will provide certain advantages and disadvantages that you will have to make use of wisely. Need poison resistance? White Pikmin are for you. Need to freeze an entire lake? Then Ice Pikmin have you covered. On top of that, there are a lot of possibilities to how you can approach certain obstacles and tasks, so don't be afraid of some experimenting.

Gameplay-wise, "Pikmin 4" is as good as ever, and the variety of new mechanics such as Oatchi, Rewind Time, and even custom button shortcuts make this a very accessible game. Moreover, the controls feel as natural as the first entries of the game, of course, updated to today's standards. And it cannot be said enough: we have an Oatchi!

Olimar needed a break after all

"Pikmin 4" explains that Olimar and the Rescue Corps disappeared while exploring an Earth-like planet. It is not the first time that the series has not had Olimar as the main protagonist. In fact, it is not the first time you've had to save Olimar from trouble. However, it is the first time that you get to create your character for a "Pikmin" entry. This brings forth more customization to the table. Each of the characters you meet and save during your adventure will also help you through skill and unique object unlocks.

With that being said, the story perhaps needs a couple more exciting moments since it feels somewhat predictable. However, "Pikmin" games, in general, are more focused on exploration and environment narrative techniques. In that sense, while not being a groundbreaking story and lacking the depth of a game such as "Tears of the Kingdom", the level design and the sense of is incredibly satisfying. Progression in "Pikmin 4" feels like a roguelite. Each time you end your day, you will have more Pikmin, more gems, and more treasures. You will end up spending your in-game currencies on upgrades that will make the next day easier and more open-ended than before.

All the accessibility options and mechanics introduced in this game make this a very easy game. Contrary to the first two games, this feels like a not-very-challenging entry in the franchise. If your Pikmin get defeated, you can opt to Rewind Time to bring them back. Yes, you will have to collect treasures all over again, but most of the time, this is accomplished quickly. There is no difficulty setting in this game and no Game Plus option once you finish the game. For players waiting for a challenge, you might find yourselves disappointed. If you're only looking for a relaxing time and focus on the story, then this game will be perfect for you.

Ready for next-gen

The "Pikmin" franchise has always been characterized as very colorful, pretty, and cartoonish. In the case of "Pikmin 4," this is very present across the different areas you get to visit. The enemies, the Pikmin, the protagonist, and other characters have a very distinguishable graphic style that we have really only seen in the "Pikmin" franchise. Nowadays, that is very difficult to say about new games that struggle to find a visual identity, oftentimes falling into a mold that many games have used before. "Pikmin 4" is unique and a breath of fresh air.

Soundwise, the music is nothing short of iconic. It's easy to become immersed and even overwhelmed with nostalgia while playing, remembering the first "Pikmin" adventures alongside Louie and Olimar on the Nintendo GameCube. The atmosphere, the little tunes, the tension, everything that a musical piece for a media such as gaming needed to be, is. Combine this with a premium visual experience and you have a recipe for greatness.

The only caveat is that it would benefit a lot from a more powerful console. "Pikmin 4" is such a beautiful and immersive experience that seeing the occasional pixelation or textures taking a longer load time are indicators that Nintendo needs to release a new machine that will be able to handle games such as "Pikmin 4" with carefulness and attention to detail.

More Pikmin, please

While not a perfect masterpiece, "Pikmin 4" is easily one of the best releases in the year so far. With its easy controls and difficulty, you could argue that this is the perfect entry-level "Pikmin" game for those who have not experienced the franchise at all.

It could use some post-game updates such as a Hard mode or even a future expansion. There never seems to be the sense of urgency and fatality felt during the GameCube days, but now that we know what "Pikmin 4" is all about, it could benefit from having more of a bite. In general, "Pikmin 4" is the perfect game to lay back in your chair and just relax while playing it. There's no excessive challenge, no branching storylines, but there's a lot of good ol' fun and enough strategy choices that will leave room for experimentation, while leaving the frustration out of the recipe.

Now that all of the "Pikmin" games are available on Nintendo Switch, treat yourself by playing all games in the franchise. You will find more challenging entries than "Pikmin 4," but overall, you will have a great time getting to know the world of Olimar and his colorful Pikmin friends.

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