Pikmin 3 Deluxe review: An underrated title makes a glorious debut on Nintendo Switch

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Today, Nintendo’s latest first-party title is launching on the Switch. While Wii U owners had a chance to dive into Pikmin 3 when it was released the first time around, Nintendo is giving gamers another chance to play the latest title in the franchise in a new deluxe version that I’ve been exploring over the past week for this review. Head below for a closer look at what Nintendo brings to the table for its latest remaster including refreshed controls, added missions, and more.

What is Pikmin all about?

Now before I get ahead of myself, for those who haven’t played a Pikmin title in the past, the third addition to the franchise is still a great place to start. Gameplay is entirely unique to the current first-party Switch lineup, having you control three different characters who have crash-landed on Earth. In order to repair their ship, they’ll have to traverse dungeons, fight enemies, and solve puzzles by commanding armies of Pikmin.

It’s an open world game that mixes dungeon crawling and unique combat with a vibrant art style and there’s a rewarding progression system that adds plenty of extra value outside of the story itself.

Nintendo really delivers on the remaster

While the recent additions of Super Mario All-Stars to the Switch collection were more of ports, the Pikmin franchise is getting some extra love for its debut on Nintendo’s latest console. This time around, you’re getting the entire experience that was first introduced back in 2013, but with some improved visuals, perfected controls, and other improvements from the remaster treatment.

Alongside the original game, Nintendo is also delivering some entirely new content into the experience. These added missions are not as substantial as the base campaign is but do bring some new gameplay into the mix that’ll be a nice addition for some. After spending some time with the game for this review, I wouldn’t say it’s worth picking up Pikmin 3 Deluxe just for the new content, but the added missions certainly help pad the title.

How does Pikmin’s debut on the Switch handle?

For a game that came out over seven years ago, the deluxe edition of Pikmin 3 manages to shine well beyond its age. Overall, gameplay is smooth and the updated controls go a long way towards making it feel like a native and even modern Switch release. With that being said, there’s still the downside that even though it’s running on Nintendo’s latest hardware this time around, Pikmin 3 Deluxe still doesn’t shake the original 720p visuals or 30FPS gameplay. 

On paper, that’s a bit of a deal-breaker, but in practice, Nintendo continues to show that performance isn’t exactly the end all be all. The art style here for Pikmin 3 does wonders for the deluxe edition, making it feel like a much more recent title than it would at first glance. There’s no doubt that we’re not on the same level as something like Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey, but the gameplay certainly hasn’t aged as poorly as other releases from the Wii U era.

And if you’re playing in handheld mode on either the Switch or Switch Lite, you’ll probably have a hard time telling that the visuals aren’t as crisp. It’s slightly more noticeable on the big screen, but still far from a caveat to ruin the whole experience.

As for the controls, this is one area where Nintendo clearly put a lot of effort in when bringing Pikmin to the Switch. Everything feels very refined to the point that it’s hard to tell that the game wasn’t actually intended to release on the hybrid console. Whether you’re playing on the TV with a Pro Controller, in handheld mode, or playing co-op with a single joy-con, each of the experiences feel well thought out and executed equally as well. Not to mention, the addition of HD Rumble is pretty awesome and a nice inclusion.

At the end of the day, one of my biggest takeaways from Pikmin 3 Deluxe in this review is that the Switch is a perfect console for it. With gameplay sessions in the Pikmin world being defined by the days in which the game itself takes place, it’s typically hard to have shorter sessions without completely wrapping things up to save. But the Switch’s handheld nature and ability to quickly pause the title without having to do a full save make it that much more enjoyable to dive in for a quick session.

Can a remaster really be worth $60?

Compared to entirely new titles, $60 is often touted as a lot of cash for fork over for a remaster. But spend a little time playing Pikmin 3 Deluxe and there’s no doubt you’ll see that Nintendo backs up their latest release. Regardless of if you were a fan of the series who missed out on its WiiU release or someone diving in for the first time, it’s an easy recommendation in my book.

Even though this very much is in fact a glorified port on an existing game, Nintendo put in the work so it doesn’t feel like that. Sure the graphics don’t look as crisp, but it plays just like you’d expect a modern-day release and from a gameplay perspective, you’re bound to get way more than $60 in value out of the experience.

9to5Toys’ Take

As we head into the holiday season, the lineup of new first-party titles isn’t as strong as we’ve seen in previous years. While Animal Crossing will likely still be a big draw for new console owners, let alone everything else in the catalog, Pikmin 3 Deluxe easily shines as one of this year’s must-have games.

With so many gamers missing out on the ability to play it the first time around, the remastered version brings a lot to the table that makes it a must-play in my book. I logged hundreds of hours of Pikmin 2 back in the day and getting a chance to play the remastered sequel was nostalgic in its own right while offering an entirely new experience at the same time.

If you’ve played a Pikmin title before, this is a familiar experience that feels right at home for the Switch. And even if this review isn’t enough to entirely sell newcomers to the series, it’s worth going and downloading the Pikmin 3 Deluxe demo to try out for yourself. 

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