Shigeru Miyamoto has only ever designed games one way, his. Pikmin would sprout onto the Gamecube as a quirky launch title to show off the power of Nintendo’s brand new hardware. It would see a sequel only a few years later, but the series went mostly silent until a third entry was announced for the fleeting Wii U console. Seven years later, Pikmin 3 would receive a deluxe port to the Nintendo Switch. How many times can lightning strike for Mr. Miaymoto? Should Pikmin have withered on the Gamecube or has it blossomed into beauty?

The planet Koppai is suffering a great famine. Many reconnaissance drones were sent into the galaxy, but only one planet contains edible matter. Three brave explorers are sent to the mysterious PNF-404 to find fruit to bring back to Koppai. Alph, Brittany, and Charlie crash land onto PNF-404 and fine much more than fruit. They discover a curious race of plants known as pikmin, and that one Captain Olimar is currently out searching for riches. Their ship has lost many parts, including the cosmic drive-key. It turns out that Captain Olimar has found their key, and the trio must unite with him if they ever wish to return to Koppai.

Pikmin are mysterious creatures. There are many varieties with special abilities. You’ll have them perform all sorts of tasks to help you get back home, but be careful. Your time in a day is limited, and if you don’t have enough fruit to eat, you’ll starve. Your days will consist of fighting enemies, solving puzzles to shorten tasks, and raising more pikmin to hasten the experience.

Combat can be extremely challenging and requires thought and precision. You will throw or rush pikmin at many types of enemies. Some enemies have different types of elemental attacks and weaknesses. Different pikmin are better for different enemies. All pikmin can sprout flowers by consuming syrup. These flowered pikmin will carry items faster and deal more damage in combat. Even with a limit of one hundred pikmin on the field, there are very few times where throwing everything you have will work out in your favor.

Puzzles will all follow a similar formula, but they never get tedious. It’s all about how you manage your captains and your pikmin. You can have any of your three captains anywhere in the map and any pikmin doing anything. Switching between captains is easy, but dismissing groups of pikmin can be somewhat annoying. When using the dismiss command, you dismiss every type of pikmin except the selected one. You have to dismiss twice to truly go off alone.

Sometimes carrying the body back is rougher than killing the beast.

Each area is a sandbox with many types of fruit to collect and enemies to encounter. Areas are designed to be returned to later, but you’ll never be hurting for sustenance to support your adventure or your troop count. There are many puzzles that require utilizing multiple pikmin types or all three captains. Things get difficult but never confusing or unfair. Most puzzles net you a fruit or shortcut.

There are a few bosses and many minibosses. These gigantic encounters never sat right with me. You either roll right over them with no challenge or have your team completely wiped, there’s no in-between. Overall, I didn’t really enjoy fighting any of them. They’re a spectacle, for sure, but they don’t flow well with the rest of the game. They all take place in large circular arenas.

Pikmin 3 is an absolutely stunning game. The captains and pikmin can look a bit dorky, but each fruit and environment makes my mouth water and eyes glisten with wonder. It all feels right out of our real world. The music is just as good. Holding an ambient and calming tone, it fed my thirst for exploration well.

There are a few other modes such as mission mode, a boss encounter mode, and the multiplayer bingo-battle. These all feature tasks like getting a specific number of fruits, defeating all enemies, or just challenging a boss again. Deluxe features every DLC mission too! There’s a lot of meat here, and I can’t wait to keep going even after writing this line.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe brought many brand new features. The story can now be played with a friend, but I never got to try it out. The main course are new side-stories featuring Captain Olimar and Louie! These are basically new mission mode levels connected by a short plot. You get to see a bit more of what the duo are doing on PNF-404 for their third and fourth ventures. For the veteran, you’ll get a good two or three hours out of it.

I can’t believe that I never once glanced at Pikmin 3. It is the pinnacle of console real-time-strategy, and I’m hungry for more. The campaign is quite short. My first run was only about six, and a half, hours, but it has an infinitely replayable quality that I don’t normally see in games. For those with a taste of strategy, puzzle-solving, and cute creatures, Pikmin 3 Deluxe is absolutely perfect.

Captain Olimar joined Super Smash Bros. for the Wii’s brawl to end them all! In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, Alph would become an alternate skin. Much like their home, pikmin are plucked from the ground and used for all sorts of tasks. Pikmin can be thrown and latch onto enemies, but Olimar and Alph mostly use them as blunt-force weapons. The Pikmin series is a hard one to translate into a fighting game, and the team did the best they could to smashify this quirky cast. I don’t particularly love Olimar in Smash, but you won’t see me complaining about consistency.

There can only be three!

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