Pikmin 3 Deluxe Review

November 16, 2020

There are few first party Wii U titles that haven’t been ported to the Nintendo Switch. With each port, Nintendo usually updates the games with extra functionality or content, whether that be a new gameplay mode, new characters or include DLC that was originally released at an additional cost. Pikmin 3 Deluxe is no exception to this trend, although Nintendo have gone to extra effort for this particular port.

In Pikmin 3, the inhabitants of Koppai send three explorers to the Pikmin planet PNF-404. The explorers; Alph, Brittany and Charlie, are on a mission to save their homeworld from starvation by finding food. Much like a certain Captain before them, the trio crash land and become separated. Aside from trying to reunite, they’re also low on food and have lost their spaceship’s warp drive which they need to return home. The trio soon come across the Pikmin, strange, leaf-like aliens who they can command to fight the hostile life of PNF-404, retrieve items and assist with navigating through the landscape. But Alph, Brittany and Charlie are not the only ones on the planet; somewhere in the wilderness is Captain Olimar and his dopey sidekick, Louie!

Pikmin 3’s story is by no means complex and just sets the stage to keep you moving forwards. But hidden amongst the cutesy characters are themes about sustainability. Aside from Alph, Brittany and Charlie looking for food to take back to their homeworld, there are some real world objects in the game, namely mobile phones. It isn’t to the same extent as Pikmin 2 with its batteries, rubber ducks and whatnot, but coupled with the fact that PNF-404’s main landmass resembles real world locales, the Pikmin series has subtly hinted that this strange place is a post-apocalyptic Earth. There’s a definite message here about recycling and giving back to nature.

At its core, the original Pikmin was about survival. In that game, players crash landed on PNF-404 and had to retrieve all their spaceship’s parts before they ran out of oxygen. Pikmin 2 was about freedom and exploration; you had unlimited oxygen so the game could be played at a relaxed pace. Pikmin 3 places itself firmly in the middle. At the end of each day the crew will eat one portion of fruit juice. You initially begin with only three portions, but you’re never in much danger. There’s plenty of fruit to collect and before long you’ll have stockpiles to last you multiple weeks. This will alienate some players as there isn’t a bigger threat to contend with and motivate you; Pikmin 3 favours exploration more than survival.

If you haven’t played a Pikmin game before, it’s part real-time strategy and part puzzler. You command an army of up to 100 Pikmin who have different abilities based on their colour. Blue Pikmin can swim in the water, Yellow Pikmin are immune to electricity and can be thrown farther, and Red Pikmin are immune to fire. New to Pikmin 3 are tiny Pink Pikmin who can fly and Rock Pikmin who have rock bodies that can be used to break glass. You have to utilise these abilities to navigate the environment. For example, there are times when you must travel through a body of water to reach the other side of a lake. So, in this case only Blue Pikmin can travel with you. But, once you reach the other side, you can command the Blue Pikmin to build a bridge which lets you bring over other Pikmin varieties. Some enemies also have elemental attacks, such as breathing fire or shooting out electricity, so it becomes a matter of familiarising yourself with each Pikmin’s strengths and adapting accordingly.

Disappointingly, the poisonous White Pikmin and bulky Purple Pikmin from Pikmin 2 are not featured in the main campaign, instead only appearing in the multiplayer Bingo Battle and Mission modes. It can already be challenging to manage the existing five variants in the campaign, so it’s understandable that these Pikmin were left sidelined.

The carcasses of defeated foes, as well as pellets found throughout the environment, can be used to increase the number of Pikmin you have amassed. The Pikmin have to carry these back to their onion – a kind of organic spaceship – where they will produce seedlings. If you’re careful about how you approach enemies you can generally get through the campaign without losing too many Pikmin. But careless players will often find half their force wiped out by a single foe if they do not strategise. The game keeps track of how many Pikmin you have lost throughout the campaign as well, just to make you feel that little bit more guilty of how many of the critters you allowed to be gobbled up by some beastie.

Introduced in Pikmin 2, but expanded on in Pikmin 3, is the ability to control each of the three captains separately. You can give each Captain a group of Pikmin and then set them to automatically travel to a designated area. While they’re traveling to that area, you can use a second or third team to progress on fighting an enemy or breaking down a barrier. If the Captain you have left on their own is attacked by an enemy, they do prompt you to take control and handle the situation. Some puzzles will also require the Captains to work together. For example, you may have to throw a captain and some Pikmin over a chasm to access another area. It’s all about splitting the workload and making the most of your time. 

While Pikmin 3 is an enjoyable experience, it doesn’t truly excel in any one category. Its real-time strategy elements are light and puzzles are simple to overcome. Most experienced players will have no trouble breezing through the 10-15 hour campaign. The Mission mode and some new post-game content does challenge players with time constraints and specific mission objectives, but ultimately this is a game that is more relaxing than challenging. Veteran Pikmin fans will have a blast regardless and this is definitely a good starting point if you’re new to the series, but it’s important to go in with an open mind and have a sense of exploration.

The Switch version does feature a number of improvements and extra features over the original release. Firstly, the main campaign now supports multiplayer via two-player local split screen. This is a great inclusion as it lets players work together or separately; it doesn’t matter if the second player assists with collecting fruit or works towards farming more Pikmin. The game also maintains a consistent framerate, though due to the nature of splitscreen the viewing area is a bit more restricted, so it’s easier to miss items that are to the sides of the environment.

The other main addition is Olimar’s Prologue and Epilogue missions. In these missions, we learn that Hocotate Freight has gone bankrupt again, and Captain Olimar and Louie are on the hunt for treasure to get them out of debt. The missions in the Prologue are relatively easy, requiring players to farm a certain number of Pikmin or collect treasure within a limited time frame. The Epilogue missions get tougher though and are a nice compliment to the main campaign, letting players use what they have learned to get the best possible end of level score. Whereas the campaign mostly lets you relax and go at your own pace, if you want to do well in these extra missions you will be required to split up Captain Olimar and Louie to make the most of your time. These extra missions will give you a few extra hours of gameplay; arguably not enough to invest in the game a second time around but a welcome inclusion nonetheless.

After completing the main campaign on Hard difficulty (or completing the demo), you will unlock a brand new Ultra-Spicy difficulty option. This lets you replay the campaign with several changes that make the game more challenging. Days are shorter, you can only carry 60 Pikmin with you, normal sized fruit produces less juice and Pikmin drown in water after 2 seconds instead of 8 seconds. These changes may seem small, but they go a long way in making Pikmin 3 a stronger survival-based experience.

Other minor additions include all DLC that was released for Mission mode on the Wii U has been included in the Deluxe version. The Piklopedia from Pikmin 2 also returns, offering details about the inhabitants of the Pikmin world. Last but not least are some welcome quality-of-life improvements. There’s a new lock-on system that lets you target specific enemies and points of interest with a simple click of the shoulder buttons, as well as a hint system that lets you know what you have to do next if you get stuck. Overall, Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the definitive version of the game, offering up the right balance of new content and refinements that justify a full priced re-release. For returning veterans it’s going to boil down to how much you love the franchise if you want to give this a second go; the core experience is largely the same, afterall. But newcomers will definitely not be disappointed.

There have not been any significant graphical upgrades from the Wii U release, but that’s okay. Pikmin 3 is a gorgeous game, featuring realistic aesthetics and wonderful particle effects. The game does only run at 720p when docked and 576p when played in handheld, which is a bit of a let down. Environments can look a bit fuzzy at times, particularly when they’re in the wider background, but this doesn’t detract from its overall beauty.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the definitive version of the game. Featuring new side stories, quality-of-life improvements, new multiplayer options and a new difficulty level, Nintendo have gone to considerable effort to make this more than an average port. Pikmin fans will love the new features, though understandably it may not be worth the price of admission a second time for some. Newcomers should definitely give this series a try as it truly deserves more respect than it has been given in the past.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe was reviewed on a regular Nintendo Switch console with a review copy provided by Nintendo Australia. For more information, check out the game’s official website.


- Prologue and Epilogue provide additional hours of gameplay
- Smooth two-player co-op campaign
- Definitive version of Pikmin 3


- Only light real-time strategy and puzzle elements
- Resolution only gets as high as 720p in docked mode
- Average storyline

Overall Score: