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Pikmin 4 review: Has a new masterpiece blossomed?

Join us as we explore a distant (yet familiar) planet inhabited by all sorts of strange beings, in this Pikmin 4 review

It is the meticulous evolution of the strategy game concept signed by Nintendo

In the now distant November of 2004, Nintendo The Official Magazine, during the review of the second chapter, used these same words to define the curious Nintendo strategic series. Today, almost 20 years later, this phrase is still relevant, also reconfirmed by the return to the scene of the saga. With the recent publication of the remaster of the first two titles, which have been added to the Deluxe version of the third (find our review on the matter here), Nintendo Switch has become the new home for Miyamoto’s funny colored creatures, which arrived in these days in its fourth chapter. Announced during the Direct aired last September, and anticipated in recent days by a playable demoPikmin 4 is now finally among us, and in this review we’re going to see together if this long-awaited title lives up to its beloved predecessors.

Pikmin 4 review: Has a new masterpiece blossomed?

Chronicles of yet another shipwreck | Pikmin 4 review

Good old Olimar may have a green thumb when it comes to taking care of silly, half-vegetable alien creatures, but he’s hardly lucky when it comes to space travel. In fact, as we also see in the incipit of the game, our clumsy captain will end up lost again on an alien planet, but this time a whole rescue team will be sent to his rescue. Sadly though that won’t be enough, given that the same fate of Olimar will also affect his rescuerswho, due to an accident, will in turn end up shipwrecked on the same planet.

In this absurd situation we will impersonate a new recruit of the rescue team and, after having created our character using a simple editor, we too will leave for the mysterious distant world (which, as per tradition, seems to all intents and purposes an uninhabited version of the Earth, although we will be the size of ants), to track down and recover all the castaways. These are the premises of a pleasant and entertaining plotwhich mainly serves as a gimmick to justify the action on the screen, giving way to the real protagonist, or the gameplay.

Pikmin 4 review: Has a new masterpiece blossomed?

Garden Strategies | Pikmin 4 review

We said in the previous paragraph of this review that the gameplay is the true protagonist of Pikmin 4. When you first start the game, only a rather slow incipit indeed, due to the prolixity of some dialogues and tutorials, separates us from seeing that all the main mechanics, the trademark of the series since its inception, are still present and not at all distorted. In the role of our alter ego we will have to explore the various game environments, and doing so will be impossible without the help of the Pikmin, small colored creatures with a flower on their head, who will follow us and carry out a whole series of actions for us.

From clearing obstructed paths to fighting possible threats, up to transporting treasures, objects and the carcasses of defeated enemies, the funny little beings (guided moreover by a well-refined AI, which only in some rare cases made us lose troops, stuck in the mercy of the monsters), they will be our real arms after all, but we will have to be careful that they don’t get into trouble. Each of them will then be characterized by a different color (all those already seen in previous titles return, plus some new entries that we leave you the pleasure of discovering), which is an indication of unique skills that make it more or less suitable for certain tasks . For example: the red ones will be resistant to fire, while the blue ones will be able to swim.

At this point, even those unfamiliar with the saga will probably have guessed that, basically, we are dealing with a game that could be classified in the RTS (Real Time Strategy) genre. Pad in hand, however, it is immediately clear how the developers have taken great creative freedom in bending the genre to their will, and this has led to the birth of a very particular and atypical exponent. One of the main features lies in the fact that we will not control our troops from above, but will instead be physically present on the battlefield, with everything that goes with it. It will therefore be essential to get to know both the environment and the different types of Pikmin well, assigning them to the tasks most suited to them in order to master what the game calls Arte del Dandorior the ability to strategically organize and coordinate the various actions, so as to better manage the time available, before the sun sets.

Pikmin 4 review: Has a new masterpiece blossomed?

A Space Explorer’s Best Friend | Pikmin 4 review

As was also mentioned in the previous paragraph of this review, in Pikmin 4, as well as in the previous titles, one of the main enemies with which we will find ourselves constantly dealing will be the passage of time. In fact, the adventure will be marked by several days, and, although there is no limit to the latter (as happened, for example, in the progenitor), we will still have to be able to make the most of every minute, in order to finish all our activities and return to the base before dark. If we fail to do so, all the Pikmin that we have not duly brought to safety will be lost.

Don’t worry though, because this time we will have an unexpected ally on our side: Occin. This is a sort of very funny bipedal alien dog, which will be available from the very first stages of the adventure, and will on balance be one of the main novelties of the gameplay. Let’s start by saying that our furry friend is able to operate in all respects like a Pikmin, and can therefore be used, for example, to fight enemies and transport objects (although its strength and resistance are greater, and moreover upgradeable, as we will see later). Furthermore, Occin is also capable of carrying both us and our entire squadron on its back, thus allowing for more orderly movements. This, coupled with its ability to swim and jump, provides the ability to more easily overcome many environmental obstacles.

As if that weren’t enough then, we will also be able to directly take control of our trusted friend at any time, who will therefore be transformed to all intents and purposes into a sort of substitute for us to whom we can also delegate the command of a part of the troops, perhaps in a other area of ​​the map. The possibilities are really many, as are the approaches to the various situations, and as you can easily guess, once he gets carried away, he will actually become able to act simultaneously on two fronts, to the benefit of your Dandori.

Pikmin 4 review: Has a new masterpiece blossomed?

In the light of the sun… | Pikmin 4 review

In our search for the remaining members of the rescue team, as well as precious stones and treasures (i.e. objects commonly used by humans, such as batteries, rubber ducks, toothbrushes, but also objects related to Nintendo history, such as various models of Game Boy) that we will need to repair the spaceship and unlock new areas, we can also come across numerous other unfortunate castaways. By saving them we will unlock simple secondary missions and various additional features, such as an encyclopedia of recovered treasures and encountered creatures. The same goes for the rescued crew members, such as the scientist, who once found will allow us to spend the aforementioned precious stones in order to buy useful upgrades for us and Occin, as well as other useful disposable items such as bombs and traps to use against enemies.

Recovering the shipwrecked will also donate us Points Motivation for Occin, which can be spent to enhance the skills of our trusted friend and acquire new ones. For example, it will be possible to make it able to transport objects that would otherwise require the strength of dozens and dozens of Pikmin, swim faster or gather our troops for us. In short, in Pikmin 4 there are plenty of things to do and, although trying the title during the review phase we perceived a level of challenge that tends to be almost always rather permissivealso thanks to the possibility of rewind time if we were to make big mistakes and lose too many allies, we must admit that this has not in the least affected the gaming experience itself. In short, once you get into the gameplay mood, the game is capable of keeping you glued to the console for hours without you realizing it.

Pikmin 4 review: Has a new masterpiece blossomed?

… and under cover of darkness | Pikmin 4 review

However, the surface of the planet will not be the only area that we can visit to complete our mission. In fact, wandering around the maps we will often find ourselves in front of openings in the ground, which constitute the access to labyrinthine underground levels often full of enemies and traps, but also treasures and shipwrecked people to save. It will be possible to explore them more calmly since time will flow much more slowly when we are inside them, and this can only help plan a winning strategy. The care placed in the level design of these areas, as well as in the rest of the game world, is immediately evident and, proceeding in the adventure, you will have to appeal to careful resource management (together with good tactical planning) to complete these areas 100%, especially if you want to minimize losses.

We said in a previous paragraph of this review that in Pikmin 4, as well as in previous titles, it is good to stay sheltered at night due to the greater danger of alien creatures. Well, for the first time in the series we will have the opportunity to go out even at night, in a sort of missions in which we will have to defend particular dens from the attack of predatorsassisted for the occasion by the brand new Rainbow Pikmin. The modality, in addition to further highlighting the grotesque and pleasantly disturbing element of the saga (the musical accompaniment is almost worthy of a horror film!), constitutes a more than welcome diversion from the classic daytime explorations, further fleshing out the already generous variety of the playful offer of the title.

Pikmin 4 review: Has a new masterpiece blossomed?

The art of Dandori | Pikmin 4 review

But in Pikmin 4, not all openings in the ground will lead to the caves we told you about in the previous paragraph of this review. In fact, sometimes we will find ourselves in special areas where we will have to face the so-called Dandori Battles. These are challenges thrown at us by some mysterious individuals covered in leaves (called Fogliolini), in which we will have to test our tactical skills in the field. There are two types: against time (in which we will have to recover all the treasures scattered around an area within the timer expires) and against the CPU.

The latter of the two above is also available in the main menu as a multiplayer mode that can be played in split screen with another user on the same…