Hey Pikmin, or Hey! Pikmin as Nintendo says, is a lot more charming than its merely “OK” early reviews let on. And yet, it’s also a bit too simple, a bit too casual for the fans of the more difficult console releases. This is Pikmin meant for your kids, and that’s not a bad thing. Just don’t go into it expecting the hardcore strategy offerings the series usually gets. This is our Hey Pikmin review.
Olimar never has any luck, and this time, finally on his way home, he crash lands on another planet where he finds (you guessed it) more Pikmin while trying to secure the fuel needed for his ship. The game blends the sensibilities of a side-scrolling platformer with the traditional “collect this” puzzles of past Pikmin games. For the most part, it works. You’ll find Pikmin of all colors and types scattered through levels, and you can bring them back to the base between levels and send them out to collect things for you. Each level is a blend of puzzle and simplistic action where you tap the screen with the stylus to toss Pikmin at aggressive wildlife.
The problem isn’t the gameplay, or the level design. It’s that it’s a bit too easy, all things considered. There’s really no difficulty to any of the levels, minus the figuring out of how to get each doodad that adds greatly to your fuel total. Monsters are a breeze, and even if you fail, there’s no real penalty in dying. Hey! Pikmin really is the casual player’s Pikmin. A great intro to the series if you’re a little daunted by how hard it can be on the console brethren.
Still, that fact shouldn’t deter fans of relaxed platforms with plenty of charm. Hey! Pikmin is a fine game, it’s just an easy one without a lot of replayability. There’s a whole lot of smirking and chortling to be had by reading Captain Olimar’s notes on the human objects he finds scattered across the levels, and the collection and use of Pikmin to defeat the critters and get perfect ratings on levels is addictive. This may not be Dark Souls: Pikmin Edition, but it doesn’t need to be. Inherently, the side-scrolling view seems to be more about what’s best for the hardware, and less about what’s best for the gameplay. Hey! Pikmin could have easily been a free-exploration top-down experience, but the level design calls for side-scrolling, and the lack of Olimar’s own mobility shows
Inherently, the side-scrolling view seems to be more about what’s best for the hardware, and less about what’s best for the gameplay. Hey! Pikmin could have easily been a free-exploration top-down experience, but the level design calls for side-scrolling, and the lack of Olimar’s own mobility shows there’s no real need for platforming expertize. You walk with Olimar, you use your jetpack occasionally, and you toss Pikmin. This isn’t the sort of game that requires deft reflexes.
Regardless of its lax difficulty and lack of replay value, Hey! Pikmin has been utterly adorable and fun to play through. If you’re a fan of the franchise and don’t go in expecting it to be a mobile sequel, but rather a casual spinoff of the series, you’ll be pleased. Folks waiting on a new full-scale Pikmin will have to hope the Switch gets one in the coming year.