Review: Hey! Pikmin

Pikmin is a beloved Nintendo franchise that doesn’t always get the praise or recognition many of us feel it deserves after three excellent home console entries since the early 2000s. With Hey! Pikmin, Nintendo and developer Arzest, who you may associate most with 2014’s Yoshi’s New Island on 3DS, have the chance to capture the imagination of a wider audience with the series’ first entry on a portable device.  Does it succeed?

Firstly, and most notably, Hey! Pikmin doesn’t follow in the footsteps of its predecessors as the game works entirely on a 2D plane rather than the overhead real-time strategy we’ve been accustomed to. Whether this change of perspective is purely to deliver a new take on the franchise or brought about by the technical limitations associated with trying to get dozens of Pikmin running around in a 3D space on the aging 3DS is something I wouldn’t care to speculate but the result is a game that absorbs several of the qualities of the series whilst offering something different.

HeyPikminImage2Olimar - "Oi! Don't you drop that, or else!"

Unsurprisingly, Hey! Pikmin begins with Captain Olimar crash-landing on a planet and it’s up to the player to guide the little fella through multiple areas searching for 30,000 Sparklium in an attempt to repair the ship and escape. Sparklium can be found scattered throughout the stages, somewhat similar to coins in a Mario game, and can also be obtained by defeating enemies, uncovering hidden areas and discovering a plethora of random items of value. 

These include things like old video game cartridges, marbles and spectacles, all with the hilariously assigned names that have gone a long way in adding extra charm to the series over the years! There are also secret locations on the map that act like bonus areas for quickly obtaining a significant amount of Sparklium, some of which appear to be locked behind Amiibo though unlocking these definitely aren’t necessary to make quick and easy progress throughout the 8 sectors in the game.

HeyPikminImage1"What do you mean you're afraid of heights? Get up there!"

Each sector has its own theme, ranging from typical grassy areas to snow, fire and poison. As you may expect, the Pikmin you find along the way all have their own unique ways of dealing with hazards such as the Red Pikmin’s ability to walk through, and stomp out, fire, the Blue Pikmin’s aptitude for swimming and the Rock Pikmin’s talent for smashing through glass and crystals. Yellow and Flying Pikmin will also appear on your travels but their skillsets will not some as any surprise to franchise veterans.

The big difference here is that you’re gathering up and utilising Pikmin in two dimensions using the touch screen of the 3DS. You do not begin any stage with Pikmin in your army (these will be acquired at specific points throughout) but any that you do have in your squad can be thrown at objects or enemies with a simple tap of the screen with your stylus. For the most part, it works well but occasionally the arc of Olimar’s throw will cause Pikmin to land marginally away from your desired target leading to several unnecessary casualties. 

HeyPikminImage4"Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go..."

This is never really a problem as you always have the opportunity to go back to certain points on the map to reobtain a few Pikmin if you ever run out but it can impact your ability to reach the end of a stage with all Pikmin rescued and alive, something which is rewarded with a gold Pikmin stamp on the area select screen. This will probably provide the main source of challenge to experienced gamers as the remainder of what is on offer is almost too easy, not least the unchallenging boss battles.

While Pikmin may be controlled via the touch screen, Captain Olimar is controlled with the Circle Pad or the D-Pad on the 3DS, or even the face buttons for those who would rather use the stylus with their left hand. Your move set is largely limited to walking slowly left or right, climbing vines or using your jetpack to cross large gaps. The latter interaction involves touching an icon at the bottom of the touch screen to activate and deactivate with the only other onscreen prompts present to blow Olimar’s whistle and select which Pikmin type you wish to use for each task, though I never experienced a single level when every Pikmin variety was available at my fingertips, unfortunately.

HeyPikminImage5"Mind where you're pointing those safety scissors!"

There is also a radar available to turn on and off at the touch of a shoulder button but given how relatively unnecessary it is, it always felt a little unfortunate that the L or R button, depending on what hand you’re holding the system with, wasn’t assigned to something a little more convenient such as the jet pack.

The action, or lack thereof, is spread out of both screens of the 3DS and feels reminiscent of early Nintendo DS titles like Yoshi Touch & Go. While this may give a larger view of the area, despite the unfortunate hidden space between the top and bottom screen, it does have drawbacks. You are obviously limited to only being able to aim Pikmin with the touch screen, which isn’t really an issue given that the game was designed to accommodate, but there is absolutely no 3D available whichever version of the hardware you own. 

HeyPikminImage7And here, we see, the Yellow Pikmin about to be devoured by a predator, marvelous.

Pushing the 3D slider all the way up could have added some much-needed depth to the lacklustre environments but having the viewpoint stretched across both screens makes the absence of 3D an unfortunate necessity as it would be extremely jarring to have only one screen delivering on that aspect. There’s certainly no technical reason why it wouldn’t have been possible to have 3D as Hey! Pikmin doesn’t come anywhere close to pushing the hardware but, as I said, it wouldn’t make sense to include that functionality here.

Speaking of the environments and the visuals, Hey! Pikmin isn’t going to win any awards as the game lacks any real energy and flair in that department.  The graphics are perfectly functional and they never get in the way of clearly seeing what is going on, something which is paramount given that we’re dealing with tiny little Pikmin creatures that may otherwise easily get lost amongst background detail, but the underlying feeling throughout is that Arzest could have done an awful lot more to stimulate. Yoshi’s New Island was similarly underwhelming, in this area at least, from the same developers.

HeyPikminImage8"Right, I'm off! Have fun and play niiiice!"

Between regular stages you’ll often be alerted of events taking place in ‘Pikmin Park’, a place where all of the Pikmin retrieved throughout the adventure search for hidden Sparklium while you’re off doing your own thing.  The contribution to the overall Sparklium count makes this particular activity seem almost worthless and the desire to regularly visit it is hugely diminished by the bland presentation.

Pikmin Park gives something of a glimpse into what a top-down Pikmin game for 3DS could have been but instead of offering interesting areas for your Pikmin to explore and for you, as the player, to form strategies around you’re presented with five separate little areas with random tufts of grass or pools of water that offer no requirement of thought in deciding which Pikmin need to go where to uncover the treasure. It doesn’t help that there is a brief animation each time you decide to enter the park which unnecessarily, and frustratingly, draws out the visit marginally longer than it ever needs to be and feels irritating in the moment where you just want to see what the Pikmin found, set them on a new path and get on with the main adventure!

HeyPikminImage9Just out of shot there were more Yellow and Blue Pikmin but alas... *Fwoom!* *Owowow!*

This review may be coming across as negative but the truth is that there is enjoyment to be had with Hey! Pikmin. Though not particularly challenging, the levels are fun to play and discovering all of the secrets the game has to offer should provide a pleasurable experience for those seeking a new game for the 3DS. Some of that old Pikmin magic stills endures throughout the 10-15 hour adventure and the game perhaps does a decent job of introducing newcomers to some of the basic concepts of the Pikmin universe but those seeking the next great Pikmin game may have to wait until the rumoured Pikmin 4.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Hey! Pikmin offers a different take on the franchise and does just enough to provide a solid and enjoyable experience for fans of the series and newcomers alike. Unfortunately, the concepts and challenges never feel like they go quite far enough to test your abilities.

  • Gameplay3
  • Playability3
  • Visuals2
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan3
Final Score



Perfect to enjoy in short bursts
Multiple challenges cater for different skill levels


Too easy
Controls can feel unnatural
Visually unambitious

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