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9 things to know before starting Pikmin 4

Commanding an army of little guys can be tough

The Pikmin 4 explorers look at a Red Pikmin in bewilderment Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
Julia Lee (she/her) is a guides producer, writing guides for games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Genshin Impact. She helped launch the Rift Herald in 2016.

Pikmin 4 is the same micromanagement creature game that we all know and love, with some new features to spice up the gameplay, like the inclusion of the Ice Pikmin, Oatchi, and the sprawling cave system.

The core gameplay is still the same as the previous games. You’re tasked with rescuing some folks stranded on a mysterious planet; you do so with the help of Pikmin, obedient little creatures you can fling around (and also command to carry your stuff). Pikmin can take enemies and pellets back to their Onion to grow more Pikmin and carry treasure to your ship to unlock more areas to explore.

This Nintendo IP is beloved for a reason, so if this is your first Pikmin game (or maybe it’s just been a while since you’ve played one), we have a bunch of tips to help you navigate Pikmin 4 below.


Don’t forget about Oatchi

Oatchi (the cute dog) is the main big addition to the game (next to Ice and Glow Pikmin) and he’s absolutely not to be forgotten. Most of the time, you should be riding Oatchi to avoid having a huge crowd of easy-to-target Pikmin trailing you.

Oatchi can also sniff out treasure, swim across water, knock high-up objects down, and even carry massive amounts of weight. At max upgrade, Oatchi can carry 100-Pikmin worth of stuff, which is massively helpful, as this means that he can solo carry almost every item in the game.

It’s easy early on to forget about Oatchi and dive back into older Pikmin habits (despite all the tutorial), so don’t forget about your adorable orange friend.

There’s no need to rush in caves — or at all, to be honest

Time passes significantly slower in caves, and the day won’t end while you’re inside one. Caves all function more as linear puzzles to solve, so take your time. When you leave the cave, your Pikmin will all be with you, so you don’t have to worry about any dying, even if you emerge from the cave at the end of the day.

That said, there isn’t a day limit in the main campaign of Pikmin 4, so you can take your time playing. Take as many days as you need to explore everything to the max.

Remember ‘dandori:’ always be doing something

To maximize time both on regular stages and in caves, your Pikmin should always be doing something. Whether it’s taking out a baddy, or carrying simple pellets back to the ship to make more Pikmin, keep them working.

This is especially so in the dandori battles, where you have to keep your Pikmin constantly collecting in order to pass.

A Pikmin 4 explorer commands several Pikmin and Oatchi around to carry dead Bulborbs, treats, and other objects. Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Some Pikmin types are a luxury (especially early)

Pikmin 4 features all the Pikmin types from previous games, alongside two new types of Pikmin: Ice and Glow.

However, the White, Purple, Rock, Pink, and new Ice Pikmin are luxuries early on. While you will find Onions for these Pikmin, they won’t show up for a while, meaning your only way to harvest these Pikmin is via Candypop Bud in the caves. You can re-enter caves just to nab more special Pikmin, but since that’s a pain in the butt, make sure you protect these special types as much as possible.

Clear a path before collecting objects

Enemies are everywhere: in the air, underground, on a cliff that’s just out of your vision. They pose a danger to you, your Pikmin, and even Oatchi. The best thing to do is to blitz every enemy you see with as many Pikmin as you can, and clear out the enemies before you send your Pikmin off to collect treasure.

Pikmin will take the shortest paths back to your ship, so sometimes they may cross enemies that you didn’t notice and then… they’ll die! Sad! That said, enemies on the regular stage maps do not respawn at all, so once you beat down a bad guy, it’s gone for good. (Enemies do respawn in caves once you 100% complete the cave and return.)

Talk to everyone at the base camp, not just your crewmates

As you rescue more and more people, make sure to chat with them twice — once to introduce yourself, and another time to start any side quests they might give out. Completing these side quests isn’t mandatory, but they do reward you with currency for doing things you’re probably already doing, like growing Pikmin, finding Onions, and taking down enemies, so you might as well get that money.

A Pikmin 4 explorer talks to Ren, another explorer, on the back of Oatchi Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

When in doubt, throw Pikmin

Did Oatchi take you to a treasure spot and there’s nothing there? Chuck your Pikmin at the ground. Are you struggling against any enemy? Throw all your Pikmin at it. Is a box slightly out of reach? Throw your Pink and Yellow Pikmin. Throw your Pikmin all the time.

Don’t get attached

The most important thing about Pikmin games is: Never get attached to your Pikmin. Hundreds, if not thousands, will die during your playthrough. Sometimes a rock will roll down a hill and squash 30 of them at once. Sometimes an enemy will carry one away out of your field of vision. It never stops being distressing, but it is a pretty normal part of the game.

That all said…

Remember: You can rewind time

New to Pikmin 4, you can actually rewind time to prevent the loss of your Pikmin if you want. If you get blindsided by a huge Bulborb that rolled over 60 of your Pikmin at once, good news! Just rewind that cave and you’ll have all your Pikmin back. This is great for figuring out boss strategy while avoiding the need to scramble back and forth between the Onion.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.