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Thursday, July 13, 2017

A New Perspective on Pikmin: Hey! Pikmin! Demo?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Arzest still sucks at game development.

It's Thursday. You know what that means? It's Nintendo eShop day! Today brings us a demo of Hey! Pikmin, a rather dreadful and Jeb!-esque title formerly referred to as “Pikmin 3DS (Working Title)”. It's that dumb Pikmin platforming game on the 3DS, developed by the reliably-mediocre developer, Arzest. (Best-known for running the Yoshi's Island series into the ground.)

At the end of 2016, I wrote an article asking people what happened to that Pikmin 3DS game, since everyone forgot about it. Since then, Nintendo themselves totally forgot about the 2D platformer by not even mentioning it at E3 2017.

At last, today brings a demo AND a SpotPass-generated push notification from Nintendo, referring to the game as “a new perspective” and “his first 2D platformer.” Will there be more? Would we want more? I guess I owe the game to answer that, since I did say not to forget about it.

The demo has three sections in it. The first is called Intro & Tutorial. This one features a cutscene of Captain Olimar attempting to make a delivery to Planet Hocotate after a long day at work, but his warp failed and he had to undergo a crash landing. Typical Pikmin plot. Olimar's ship is completely wrecked, and worse, it has no fuel — Sparklium. Olimar needs to collect 30,000 Sparklium units to escape. This planet also has Pikmin on it, like every other planet Olimar has ended up crashing into. They hide in bushes (or weeds), but come out when Olimar uses a touch screen-controlled whistle. Unlike previous Pikmin games, the whistle's sound effect is a Hey! (Hence, the game's title.)

Since I mentioned the touch screen, the game is entirely controlled by the touch screen, except for Captain Olimar's movement. That's controlled by your choice of the Circle Pad, the Directional Pad, or the ABXY buttons.

The next section is 1-A: First Expedition. This features classic Pikmin elements like using Pikmin to build bridges, and throwing them at enemies. It also features changed/new elements, like enemies not leaving behind a carcass, or Captain Olimar randomly having a jetpack with no introduction other than “Entering this cave looks like a job for your jetpack!” (Paraphrased.) And then the jetpack icon appears on your touch screen.

Hey! Pikmin shovel HP bar
Enemies and environmental objects now have HP bars.

Something that bothers me a bit is that Captain Olimar has no limit to his throwing range. You can send Pikmin anywhere as long as it's on the touch screen. You also apparently need to use the Home button to pause the game.

I'm at the point at 1-A before the second shovel and there is an infinitely spawning enemy that awards two Sparklium upon each defeat. I wonder: If I spend enough hours, could I grind up to 30,000 Sparklium and finish the game? I won't try that, since this article has a deadline. I will say, however, that this enemy is supposed to be some kind of Bulborb expy (but it's... a duck-bug?), but it gets stunned when you throw Pikmin at its front, and is totally helpless when you throw Pikmin at its back. Bulborbs are supposed to be strong, fearless warriors in front! Thanks to Olimar's amazing throwing range, you can easily throw Pikmin to duck-bug's backside while in front of it. That's not an easy task in the 3D Pikmin games.

The last section is 3-A: Crystal Tunnels. These introduce Rock Pikmin, which can break the crystals in the Crystal Tunnels. This shows off destructible environments, and using the touch screen to swap between Pikmin types. You'll want to use Rock Pikmin at all times except for one puzzle. You see, there are two kinds of destructible in this level: Rocks and crystals. Red Pikmin can break rocks when thrown (one rock at a time, and the Pikmin stop their movement after they break a rock), while Rock Pikmin will pierce the rocks and smash any on their throwing arc, not stopping until they land. So what do you do when one layer of rocks makes a staircase to a higher platform that you need to access?

Hey! Pikmin The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening DX Crystal Tunnels cartridge treasure Captain Olimar rocks puzzle
Well, DON'T throw your Rock Pikmin, or you won't be able to reach the familiar treasure on the top screen.

All in all, the game isn't really fun. You take the parts of Pikmin that people aren't enthusiastic about and try to make them fit in a platformer format, and you end up with something that everyone will keep forgetting exists in a month. There's no Pikmin-raising here. Well, there apparently is Pikmin-raising in the final game... if you have a Pikmin amiibo.

Hey! Pikmin releases this July 28. If you forget it, I won't blame you.

Hey! Pikmin instruction manual exploring the planet retrying an area Captain Olimar crushed by a rock
Olimar may get crushed by a rock in-between now and then, however.

Ludwig didn't identify any usage of kazoos in the game, but nothing about it was particularly inspiring. It was quite forgettable, and he's not just saying that for thematic purposes. Fortunately, Ludwig does not believe the Pikmin series will die because of this game's existence. What do YOU believe? Also, the random “Olimar gets crushed by a rock.” from the game's digital manual literally made Ludwig laugh out loud.

Arzest is still being hired to develop games, like BALAN WONDERWORLD. It's terrible, too.


  1. I spent too much time trying to figure out how to reach the Zelda cartridge.
    Overall, the game just seems mediocre.

    1. I actually screwed it up my first time, then came back and did it successfully.

      Red Pikmin to break the top layer, and then just go up.


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