Those cute little Pikmin are now going even more pocket sized in their first ever portable outing in Hey! Pikmin. CapitanOlimar crash lands the S.S Dolphin 2 on yet another desolate world, full of treasures, dangers, and many trustworthy Pikmin companions.

Will Hey! Pikmin be a treasure for 3DS, or is it not even fit for a Bulborb’s lunch? Find out in our review, after the break!

Hey! Pikmin
Nintendo 3DS Family Systems
Developed by Arzest
Published by Nintendo
Released: 28th July 2017 (NA and Europe)
Review copy provided by Nintendo
Screenshots courtesy of Nintendo

Captain Oliver has crash landed onto a mysterious planet, and it’s up to you to get him back home. Luckily your ship is mostly usable, the bad news however, is that the S.S. Dolphin 2 does not have enough fuel to get back to Hocotate. More good news though, the planet you’re on seems to have an abundance of Sparklium, which can be used as fuels, there’s even treasure that is made up of a huge amount of Sparklium. But wait, there’s more bad news… the majority of the indigenous creatures are hungry, and Sparklium looks very appetising… along with you!

The biggest difference in this spin-off is the fact that Hey! Pikmin is a 2D side scroller rather than a 3D exploration game. There are around eight different sectors (think worlds from Super Mario Bros.), and each sector contains three main levels, a secret level, a boss level, and a couple of mini bonus-levels. It has a completely different structure to games of the mainline Pikmin series.

The controls are as simple as they come, use the circle pad or directional pad to move, and use the touch screen to throw Pikmin, there’s also an option for the left-handed players. There’s two little icons which will come in handy on the touch screen. Those who are familiar with the previous games will recognise the whistle icon. Give the icon a tap and you’ll blow your whistle, which will attract the attention of any nearby Pikmin; useful for collecting those lost Pikmin.

The second icon, the jetpack, will blast you up a tiny bit and allows you to hover for a short period. This is useful of getting across small chasms, though note that only flying Pikmin will be able to follow you. The only issue with the controls I have found is the fact that the jetpack and whistle icons are too small. There’s been a fair amount of times where I’ve accidentally sacrificed my poor Pikmin into a poisonous bog just because I wanted to whistle over a stray… I’m sorry I failed you my Pikmin friends.

Unlike the other Pikmin, you won’t have a reserve you can take Pikmin from in every level, instead you only have access to the Pikmin that are already in the level. This takes a bit of the strategy away from the game as the game will essentially give you the Pikmin you need. For those unfamiliar with the types of Pikmin, there are five types in Hey! Pikmin. These are the fire resistant red, the blue strong swimmers, the electric conductor yellows, the hefty and strong rock, and the flying… flying Pikmin. One neat new feature about the game however is the fact that the flying Pikmin will now carry you as you fall down a pit, which offers some new gameplay.

As you progress through a level, you’ll find the amusing Pikmin scattered around, usually in groups of four. You can have up to 20 Pikmin with you at any one time, you also get a neat bonus if you finish the levels without any harm coming to all 20 you collect. If you do end up losing too many Pikmin where you have less than four, you will alway be able to find new Pikmin that appear in piles of leaves, twigs, or dandelions. This means that it is impossible to fail a level because you lost too many Pikmin, though you may need a certain amount to discover certain treasures or secrets.

The levels themselves are actually pretty well designed, with some smartly engineered puzzles. The levels aren’t necessarily very difficult, though some sections may have you take a moment to really think about what to do next. Sometimes you’ll need to be able to let enough Pikmin survive to grab a treasure, or you’ll have to aim the lighter yellow Pikmin with perfect timing to grab your trinkets. Some of the challenge also comes down to the fact that the top screen isn’t a touch screen, so you’ll have to have a bit of extra thinking when it comes down to pushing forwards. Most of the boss fights are pretty simple and won’t provide too much of a challenge, but the concepts for most of them are pretty neat, especially the true final battle.

Once you complete a level, you’ll bring all the surviving Pikmin back to your crash site, which is conveniently next to Pikmin Park. In the park, there are different areas to send your Pikmin to to help uncover more Sparklium sources. Think of it as mining with Pikmin. Certain Pikmin will only be able to perform certain tasks. For example, the yellow type are the only ones who can explore electrified bramble, and the flying ones are the only one who can access high up rubble. Though it’s a cute little addition, it doesn’t really add much depth or variety to the game, it’s just a simple simulation game.

The changes in Hey! Pikmin may not be the most appealing to the more hardcore fans of the series, though it is perfect for someone who has never gotten into the Pikmin series, or those who struggled playing them. For the majority of the time, you aren’t in any rush to complete the levels. Most of them are pretty linear, though it’s still nice to explore around a bit or to just take in the scenery. Think of the game as the more relaxing side-scrolling adventure. The music is pretty neat too, I can’t help but get a tiny bit of a Metroid vibe when exploring the levels.

Other than those changes, the game still very much feels like a Pikmin title. All the enemies you defeat, and all of the treasure you keep will be logged, and some of them offer quite humorous descriptions. For example, a flip phone, which is called a ‘Work-Life Imbalancer’ in-game, leads Olimar to ponder whether there actually ever was intelligent life on the planet. If anything, I feel that Hey! Pikmin actually has a larger focus on the personalities of the Pikmin. Quite often, a small cut-scene will play to show you what the Pikmin are getting up to in the level, which is very reminiscent to the Pikmin shorts. It’s just something that really makes you love those little critters so much more, and almost makes you feel bad for enslaving them… then again, they’re the ones who like working for you for free!

Hey! Pikmin isn’t the most graphically demanding game for the Nintendo 3DS, but it still looks pretty good with vibrant areas. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t make use of the console’s stereoscopic 3D. It would have been neat to have, but seeing how you’ll likely be looking at the bottom screen the majority of the time, it’s a logical move.

Overall Hey! Pikmin, though only a spin-off title, may not be the game that the more hardcore fans of the series wanted, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad game. It still has all the Pikmin lore and heart, it’s just more approachable to newcomers of the series, or those who have struggled playing previous Pikmin titles. The game isn’t necessarily very difficult, but the level design is fantastic. Other than being able to accidentally throw your Pikmin instead of using your jetpack, it’s a pretty solid title.

If you are hoping for a deeper, more challenging, as well as more strategic Pikmin game, then maybe it’s best to wait for Pikmin 4 or pick up Pikmin 3 in the meantime. However, if you’re a Pikmin fan who just likes anything Pikmin related, if you found the previous titles too difficult, or if you just want to give the franchise a go, then I’d definitely recommend Hey! Pikmin for you.

Final Rating – 3 out of 5

Hey! Pikmin will be released exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS family systems on the 28th July 2017 in Europe and North America, and is out now in Japan. Please consider purchasing/pre-ordering from the following links as we are legible for a small commission which helps to keep NintyBuzz online, thank you!

Leon Fletcher

I am a huge Nintendo fan, hence why NintyBuzz exists. I especially love all things Zelda and Metroid. NintyBuzz was started by me back in the Summer of 2014, it started out mainly as a hobby, though the site has gradually grown, and I hope it grows for many years to come!