IF you’re one of the five people who has actually played all of the Pikmin games – yes, including Hey! Pikmin – then Pikmin 4 is going to feel weird.
Visually it’s the most distinct of any game in the series, with camera angles that are much lower to the ground.
This allows you to look up and around at the world, which feels more vertical than ever before as a result.
If you’re a fan like me, you would’ve accepted just more Pikmin, but Pikmin 4 is both more and different.
Pikmin is the Smash Bros. of the real-time strategy (RTS) genre.
While Smash simplified mechanics for the fighting game genre, Pikmin breaks down the RTS genre and implements some action elements to make it easier to understand.
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You’ll be managing a team of Pikmin to fight monsters, open new paths, and collect precious treasures – at least, that’s how we’re all used to it working.
Even the basic rules of the game you’re used to have been switched up here.
At least at first, we were only able to summon up to 20 Pikmin at a time – down from the usual 100-strong army you’ll be commanding.
Your cursor also hard-locks onto enemies when you’re pointing at them, making your throws more accurate and easier to execute than ever before – Wiimote pointer excluded. A nice touch.
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In Pikmin 4 you can create your own character that ends up crash-landing on an alien planet during a rescue mission.
After Olimar’s numerous galactic expeditions, the thirst for treasure and adventure has spread to dozens of other explorers, and they all have a habit of crash-landing.
During our short preview, we were already able to rescue two unique characters that were incapacitated on the alien world.
Of course, this alien world is still very familiar, as it’s based on our own.
The swap to Unreal Engine gives Pikmin not only a different mechanical feel, but also a different visual texture.
Materials are more realistically rendered and lighting is better than ever too, allowing the sun to shine on individual wood chips on a painted fence.
Pikmin has always looked striking, but this one looks better than ever.
Oatchi, the alien dog, is also a nice addition.
He can perform tasks similar to a Pikmin, but he can also learn new abilities.
One of the abilities we used was a Rush which allowed Oatchi to run ahead, breaking through pots and other items.
It seems Oatchi’s abilities will allow you to perform more actions in the world without introducing a bunch of new Pikmin to complicate matters.
Dungeons are back too – deep and complex underground caverns, now accessed by blue drain covers you can find in the world.
Inside you’ll usually find a healthy mix of treasures, monsters, and explorers in need of rescuing.
Time moves at one sixth of the speed in dungeons, meaning you can take a bit more time to fully explore everything, but you should expect later dungeons to be far meatier.
It’s still early days and we’ve only seen a little of what Pikmin 4 has to offer.
But this might be the last big Nintendo Switch game, along with the recently announced Super Mario Bros. Wonder.
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If this is how the Switch goes out, then this is a fantastic way to cap off its library.
Written by Dave Aubrey on behalf of GLHF.
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