What is Hey! Pikmin?
A rather different style of game to the previous Pikmin games, Hey! Pikmin is a 2D, side-scrolling adventure that follows the diminutive Captain Olimar's quest to return home. After colliding with an asteroid, poor old Olimar's ship crash lands on a planet - but luckily, he's not alone. Drawing on the help of the Pikmin, a friendly plant like race of creatures who'll follow you on your adventure, it's up to you to chuck them at both enemies and obstacles to puzzle your way through the game's levels, as you try to collect enough Sparklium to repair your ship, and get back home.
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How do you play Hey! Pikmin?
Playing as a character the size of a thimble (and one that can't actually jump), Hey! Pikmin is a real adventure, and one full of exploration. With cavernous, maze like levels that often contain several secret passages and alternative routes, it's up to you to navigate the often dangerous flora and fauna of the game's planet with the help of your Pikmin friends, who'll follow you around, as you figure out how to get past its many obstacles, and seemingly uncrossable pits.
Luckily, this is where the Pikmin come in handy. Played using the Control Stick and Touch Screen alone, all you have to do is touch the Touch Screen where you want to chuck your Pikmin, at which point they'll go to work for you - pushing blocks around, gathering bits to build bridges, using their weight to lower platforms so you can climb up, or even attacking enemies. It's up to you to figure out where to send your Pikmin, and what you'll need to get them to move or adjust to get around each level, with things very quickly becoming very clever indeed. When combined with Pikmin types, whether you're using blue Pikmin to swim underwater, or sending yellow Pikmin in to complete a circuit and cause a toadstool to open, there's a lot of very clever ways of making use of your Pikmin friends, giving Hey! Pikmin a nice, puzzle-y feel.
How easy is Hey! Pikmin to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, Hey! Pikmin is one of those games that's easy to pick up, but can be quite tricky to play, even if it isn't really all that punishing. Outside of the puzzles, most of the game's difficulty comes from the enemies that populate each level. Often being two to three times the size of you, these huge beasts can often devour your Pikmin whole. Unfortunately, the only way to get your Pikmin to attack enemies is to throw them at them - and all too often, an enemy will see them coming, and simply sit back and swallow half your team whole. It's all about timing your attacks, and being sure to get your attack in before they've had time to deploy any counter attacks.
Similarly, it's easy for your Pikmin to get lost. With maze like levels (and your Pikmin being a bit thick), you'll often find one getting stuck on a ledge or a branch - and while a quick poke of the whistle button will get them scurrying towards you, if they end up too far off screen, they'll be lost for good. Luckily, even entirely running out of Pikmin doesn't result in a game over - while Olimar can't attack, each level does contain very regularly spaced logs and branches, where you'll always find a few Pikmin nestling should you need any more. Should Olimar himself take too much damage, though, you'll find yourself having to restart the level.
For the youngest of players, with no voice acting, Hey! Pikmin is a game that does require a reading ability, but outside of a few brief tutorials, there's little that's really essential, and everything is delivered in fairly simple English.
Sample sentences include:
- From what you've told me, Pikmin respond to the sound of a whistle. Try blowing yours to see what happens.
- Captain Olimar, try tapping the seeds to show the Pikmin you want them.
- We should keep an eye out for any other treasures like this one.
With nothing in the way of bad language or sexual content, all parents really need to know about in Hey! Pikmin is that it contains some very mild violence, yet which still may be upsetting for younger children. As the Pikmin are very much the prey of the larger creatures that populate the game's world, it's not uncommon to end up with your Pikmin being eaten and swallowed whole, letting out a whimper as you see their soul float away. It's all fairly cartoony, but still something that parents may want to be aware of.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS