Pikmin 4 streamlines its strategy, and partners you with a scene-stealing space pup

It’s been eight years – eight years! – since Pikmin creator and Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto announced the existence of Pikmin 4 to Eurogamer back in 2015. Now, excitingly, it’s just a few weeks away. Was the version Miyamoto had in mind back then similar to the one I’ve now played? How did the project change over the years since? I’d love to know, as Pikmin 4 is certainly a different beast from its immediate predecessor on Wii U. Changes have indeed been made – and nearly all for the better – as the Pikmin series looks back to the best of the series’ past while ultimately seeking a more modern approach overall, with its eyes set on securing a wider audience.

For those new to Pikmin, the series has always offered a cute-looking experience with a deeper layer of strategy underneath – one that requires planning and skill to maximise both your time and available Pikmin reserves in order to explore garden-like environments, defeat bug and bird-like enemies, collect resources and treasures – and crucially to do so within a limited time frame. With your worker ant-like Pikmin able to be grown and replenished fairly easily, strategic time management is where Pikmin’s greatest challenges often lay – both in terms of maximising what can be done during each in-game 15-minute day before you must scurry back to safety, and in the limited days remaining to complete your overall goal. For Pikmin 4, it feels like Nintendo has worked to soften this challenge – to make the game’s skill level better match its friendly-looking visuals – or, at least, that’s the case early on.

Crucially, Pikmin 4 removes the series’ usual overall time limit, so there’s now no need to worry about depleting life support or replenishing food reserves. The triumphant return of Pikmin 2’s dungeon-like caverns acts to focus gameplay, and also allows for longer sections of adventure without the surface’s day/night clock to worry about. And there’s now the ability to rewind time if a day is going terribly and you’d prefer to start over.

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