For those who haven’t performed a Pikmin recreation earlier than, you is likely to be stunned to be taught that the collection can get fairly darkish. Certain, it stars a bunch of lovable plant-like beings — the titular pikmin — who navigate an enormous world stuffed with equally cute creatures. It’s vibrant and colourful in the way in which that Nintendo video games are typically. Nevertheless it’s additionally fairly creepy at instances, with unsettling enemies to go up in opposition to, darkish caverns to discover, and the way in which the pikmin will throw themselves into battle, with hordes in a position to overwhelm and kill bigger creatures, whose corpses they then cart off to be repurposed. Pikmin is gentle on the floor however darker the extra you concentrate on it — and the most recent entry takes issues a step additional with a survival mode and a few ghostly new pikmin that solely come out at evening.
At its core, Pikmin four isn’t all that completely different than its predecessors. It’s nonetheless a mixture between a puzzle / journey recreation and an RTS, the place you command teams of little pikmin to discover areas and full missions. On this recreation, it’s a rescue mission — or, somewhat, quite a lot of them. First, collection staple Captain Olimar will get misplaced on an Earth-like planet, after which the rescue group that units out to save lots of him will get equally caught. You play as a brand new recruit — for the primary time within the collection, you can also make your individual character — who first has to rescue the rescuers after which the captain himself.
You do that, as at all times, with the assistance of pikmin. Principally, the world of those video games is sort of a Honey, I Shrunk the Children kind of situation; mundane places turn out to be wondrous since you’re simply so darn tiny. The primary space in Pikmin four is a straightforward suburban yard, however in your character, it’s an enormous forest stuffed with secrets and techniques. Your budding rescue ranger doesn’t truly do a lot themself. They’re extra of a supervisor. You accumulate and management pikmin, that are beings which are weak on their very own however work nicely in teams. For those who inform a bunch to, say, battle a frog-like creature or accumulate a discarded Recreation Boy, they’ll do it. You even have a two-legged alien canine to assist.
Controlling the pikmin performs out a bit like an RTS, however the recreation itself is all about exploration. Your time is split into days, and the objective is to see, do, and accumulate as a lot as doable earlier than dusk. Your predominant objective is to rescue everybody, however to get there, you’ll must open up new areas, uncover new pikmin (every coloration has distinctive attributes), and accumulate every kind of “treasures” that can be utilized to create upgraded gear, serving to you discover much more as extra locales open up. It’s a really satisfying development cycle that actually encourages you to enterprise into each nook and cranny of an space.
There are just a few new parts in Pikmin four that swap issues up. For starters, among the individuals you rescue have a wierd affliction the place they’ve leaves rising out of their heads. For some motive, they wish to problem you to a form of puzzle, the place the objective is to gather a minimal quantity of treasures and enemy corpses inside a selected timeframe. With the clock ticking down, these extra targeted challenges are a pleasant change of tempo from the laid-back commonplace gameplay, even when I don’t fairly perceive why they exist narratively.
In the meantime, it seems that the one approach to treatment your leafy buddies is by accumulating a wierd, gooey, glowing substance that may solely be discovered at evening. And right here’s the place Pikmin four actually embraces its darker parts. Principally, nighttime excursions are the equal of a horde or survival mode, the place you utilize glowing pikmin to battle enraged enemies as they try to destroy the hive the place the goo comes from.
The objective is to outlive the evening with the intention to deliver among the therapeutic slop again to your base. These challenges get fairly intense, however they’re most notable for the vibe, which is rather a lot creepier than your typical Pikmin outing. Not solely is it darkish, however the enemies you go up in opposition to are red-eyed and single-mindedly targeted on destruction, coming at you in waves that may really feel, at instances, as in the event that they’ll by no means finish. In the meantime, the brand new pikmin appear like glow-in-the-dark variations of the tree spirits from Princess Mononoke, which is to say they wouldn’t be misplaced haunting your goals.
“I needed the designs to not simply be cute, but additionally give a way of eeriness.”
Once more, Pikmin as a family-friendly horror recreation isn’t solely new as an idea. It’s been there, at the least in small doses, for the reason that very starting. Junji Morii, an artwork director at Nintendo who helped create the ultimate design for the pikmin, just lately mentioned in an interview that “again then, I actually favored the world of Tim Burton, so I needed the designs to not simply be cute, but additionally give a way of eeriness, or some emotional weight.”
What Pikmin four does may be very easy — and really profitable. It takes a formulation that already works nicely and builds on it with new concepts which are fully additive and don’t take away from what has made the collection so beloved. That’s greater than sufficient motive to play it, even for those who’ve by no means touched a Pikmin earlier than. However the sequel additionally goes a step additional by digging additional into its creepier parts and pushing them to the forefront.
It’s nonetheless cute and colourful, with all of that patented Nintendo polish — however now you may wish to contemplate enjoying Pikmin with the lights on.
Pikmin four launches on the Nintendo Swap on July 21st.