As a huge fan of the Pikmin games, news that the criminally underplayed third entry in the series would be getting a second chance on Nintendo Switch certainly struck a chord with me. The Wii U may not be looked back on as a success but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have its fair share of fantastic games and Pikmin 3 easily ranks up there as one of, if not the best the system had to offer.
With the Switch version getting a few nice additions such as new content and co-op functionality for the story mode, it got me thinking about where the series could go next. Pikmin 4 was said to be “very close to completion” by Shigeru Miyamoto back in 2015 and then mentioned once again in 2017 with rumours even claiming development had been rebooted hence the game’s agonisingly long silence. I’m trying to be optimistic and believe we’ll see a brand new Pikmin over the next year or so and already my brain is spinning over what Nintendo could do to surprise and move the series forward. Here are five directions Pikmin 4 could take…
1. Time to Face the Dark
The Pikmin series has always been about time management, the daylight ticking away as you try to cram in as much Pikmin growing, treasure grabbing and exploration as you can before time is up and nightfall hits. Then it’s off to the safety of your spaceship whilst any lagging Pikmin getting left behind are chomped up. Don’t get me wrong, I love the often-humorous log updates that each evening brings but I’ve always wondered what is it about the night that makes it so dangerous to stick around? What if Pikmin 4 answered that?
Pinching an idea from Dying Light, what if the creatures grew more dangerous at night through increased strength, health, speed or even used new attacks. You could even have certain nocturnal creatures show up that you’d never see during the daytime. Put simply if playing the daytime events is the game’s equivalent of normal mode, then tackling things at night would translate to hard mode offering a much greater challenge and proving why Olimar and the rest of the crew would always fly far away from the planet at night. Of course, with added challenge comes greater reward and limiting certain rare collectables to night time exploration would incentivise players to take the risk.
It’s something the series has never explored before and rich with opportunity. Sure, it does away with all the anxiety and stress that comes from completing your tasks before sundown, but I see those same feelings arising with the heightened threat of the evening.
2. Real-Time Elements
Think Animal Crossing here where levels change depending on when you play. While I’m not suggesting it follows the footsteps of Animal Crossing and mimic the exact time in the real world – since it might limit players too much – I like the idea of the real world impacting what is happening within the Pikmin one. You could have new creatures added via updates post-release encouraging you to return to the game. Summer months could introduce fiery more desert-dwelling creatures while winter unleashes icy, woolly ones. Monster Hunter World did this and it definitely succeeded at getting me to load the game up once more.
Similarly, perhaps certain days of the week could result in different weather effects within the world itself that then organically open up new paths and sections to the map. Monday’s are a miserable affair for example so if Pikmin 4 is played on this day then it will cause it to rain in certain points on the world map. With heavy rainfall, this could fill holes in the ground allowing a cardboard box at the bottom to float to the surface creating a bridge to explore a new part of the world. Similarly, snowy areas could see everything melt on weekends revealing caves and other secrets beneath.
The Pikmin series has always had this organic vibe about it and adding changes and additions through updates or the internal console calendar could help really emphasise that feeling of exploring a living, breathing world.
3. More Pikmin
It’s an obvious request especially since each new entry in the series has introduced a pair of newer types (purple and white in Pikmin 2 and then rock and flying in Pikmin 3) but it’s one still worth mentioning. You see, new Pikmin doesn’t just mean a new bright colour to add to your army but it also means new abilities that add fresh and exciting layers of strategy and challenge to the mix. For example, purple (and later Rock Pikmin) allowed for a more attack-heavy approach against enemies while the former even possessed the strength of ten Pikmin meaning less were needed to carry objects.
We’ve seen the pink flying Pikmin but what if Pikmin 4 went the opposite route and introduced tunnel-digging brown Pikmin? Or perhaps green Pikmin that are able to sneak by enemies undetected or even black Pikmin that are in their element during the aforementioned nighttime segments? Of course, the possibilities are many and that’s all part of the excitement with a new Pikmin game. What new types will we be presented with and how will we use their abilities to our advantage?
4. More Than Just Killing Creatures
The focus of Pikmin one through three was always about gathering items be it spaceship pieces, everyday objects (that Olimar and Louie saw as treasure) and even fruit, so monsters were merely obstacles in your way that needed to be eliminated. You saw a monster then chances are you would send your Pikmin out to attack and kill it. Taking a page out of Monster Hunter’s book, what if Pikmin 4 introduced the idea of capturing these monsters instead?
Maybe Hocotate Freight is going all Jurassic World and trying to build its own theme park exhibiting these monstrous beasts and it’s down to you to transport them back. Playing the Monster Hunter series, I always found capturing much tougher than outright killing the beast since it forced you to attack more carefully as well as make use of traps and other tools too, a side effect I’d expect replicated in Pikmin too.
Of course, beyond capturing, what if you could train the creatures too using them to aid you against particular massive enemies? Managing an army of Pikmin and a few different creatures could add an interesting new twist on combat and allow for even bigger bosses.
5. Photo Competitions
The photo mode in Pikmin 3 surprised me in how much I found myself messing around with it. Much like Pokemon Snap (another game I absolutely love), I found myself trying constantly to improve the photos I took and find that perfect angle. It was a neat extra but one I think could be put to even better use through missions and online competitions.
As well as capturing creatures, what if you were tasked with taking photos of them too some with certain requirements like performing a certain action or at a certain time of day. Furthermore, hosting weekly or monthly online photo contests through the game could be an interesting feature, where players submit their best efforts based on a certain theme and they’re either voted on by players or perhaps an in-game rating system (similar to Pokemon Snap).
Pikmin 4 could be months or even years away from being announced let alone released but Pikmin 3 Deluxe at the very least show Nintendo hasn’t forgotten about the series. While I can’t wait to revisit the Wii U update, I’m more excited for the future of the series and where it’ll take us venturing next. What ideas might you like to see in a future Pikmin instalment?
Pikmin 3 Deluxe will release at retail and on the Nintendo eShop for Nintendo Switch worldwide on 30th October 2020 priced at £49.99 ($59.99).