In September of last year, Nintendo revealed Hey! Pikmin during a Nintendo Direct presentation. I immediately wrote it off as the next mediocre 2D platformer from a series that deserves so much more. In my defense, we’d received nothing but phone-ins from Nintendo in the 2D platformer space, from Yoshi to Kirby and back again.
It just sort of made sense to me that Hey! Pikmin would be another mediocre effort. It seemed destined to be a simple cash-in for a dying system with a massive install base.
Good news, I was wrong. At least, after a weekend and a few commutes with the game, I’m actually enjoying Hey! Pikmin. It feels so great to have pegged this thing all wrong.
Is it a traditional Pikmin effort that rewards preservation and unit build-up? No. You won’t scratch that Pikmin itch with this game.
It’s more akin to something like Yoshi’s Island, except your eggs have been swapped out for Pikmin. In that regard, this game is almost better than Yoshi’s New Island that hit the 3DS a few years back. That felt like a phoned in effort, but this seems just a bit stronger.
It’s likely due to the puzzle-platformer nature that Pikmin’s standard set of mechanics provides. You’re not just throwing Pikmin at items and enemies in order to explore each stage and collect what it has to offer. You have to survive encounters, make it to specific parts of the stage often obscured by puzzles and use each Pikmin’s innate ability to solve the space. You might need Yellow Pikmin to reach an item that’s blocked by electricity, for instance, and that “problem” presents a nice moment of head-scratching that’s been sorely missed in Nintendo’s 2D efforts on the 3DS.
Our full review is still a week or so off, but consider this: Hey! Pikmin doesn’t suck. It’s way, way better than I thought it would be. Is it the perfect Pikmin experience? No. But, it’s a game I’ve enjoyed so far.