Hey! Pikmin is one of two titles launching alongside the New Nintendo 2DS XL this summer, but it may take Pikmin fans by surprise.
Although it has many of the series hallmarks — Captain Olimar shepherding Pikmin of various colors on an expedition, resource management — the game eschews the real-time strategy adventure gameplay for a much simpler sidescroller.
We played a trio of levels from Hey! Pikmin at a recent Nintendo 3DS event for press, and what struck us was that the game’s closest companion isn’t any previous Pikmin game. Instead, this puzzle-based action game is more reminiscent of the light and breezy Kirby series.
Like the Kirby games, Hey! Pikmin straddles a line between challenge and comfort. It’s not difficult to parse any of its puzzles, which typically require a good sense of aim so that Captain Olimar can hurl whichever color Pikmin he’s got with him in the right direction. Although the levels aren’t all just straight left-to-right in design, it’s pretty easy to figure out where a Pikmin needs to go and when.
There’s still a limited amount of Pikmin to manage at any given point, and later levels should give Olimar different colors of the creatures to deal with as well. We had little trouble holding on to our entire Pikmin team as we sent them off to break down walls or grab acorns. A blow of a whistle assembled them all by us again, and very few puzzles required the Pikmin to work on more than one task at the same time.
Also of note: Hey! Pikmin is the rare 3DS game that requires using the touchscreen. Although Olimar is controlled with the circle pad, players will need to keep the stylus handy to throw Pikmin around or select any of the on-screen prompts. It’s something that takes getting used to — and even surprised us at first, when we discovered the handheld’s face buttons to be useless for the most part.
Hey! Pikmin, at least in the levels we played, seems to be a mostly stress-free affair — unlike the more intense, strategic console versions. But just as the Kirby series’ repetitive structure — navigate out of a short level using his different abilities, then fight a boss; rinse, repeat — is a nice break from some of Nintendo’s more intense games, Hey! Pikmin is a pleasant-enough breather. For Nintendo’s first attempt at bringing the series to 3DS, it’s a passable diversion.