Nintendo Pikmin 4
Switch, DE, IT, FR
Pikmin 4 is one of Nintendo’s best Switch games. I can't remember the last time a strategy game captivated me like this. On top of that, the game also teaches valuable multitasking skills.
At first glance, Pikmin 4 looks like a cosy, stress-free feel-good game. But appearances can be deceiving. Behind the cute facade lies a complex and stressful strategy game that puts my multitasking skills to the test.
In Pikmin 4, I take on the role of a tiny astronaut. My mission: rescue stranded space travellers from an alien planet and collect treasures along the way. This takes place across a total of six expansive areas.
On my rescue mission, I rely on small, plant-like creatures that call the planet home: Pikmin. For some reason, the colourful critters dance to my tune – literally. My space suit has a built-in whistle, which I can use to order the Pikmin around. I can sic them on enemy monsters, have them transport treasures or carry stranded astronauts.
Thanks to the reworked camera, I have a much better grip on the action than in previous games. I can zoom in so close and near the action that I'm almost playing the game from an over-the-shoulder perspective. This makes exploring the terrain really fun.
In part four, there are again plenty of different Pikmin types that offer different skill sets. Red Pikmin are good fighters and immune to fire damage. Blue Pikmin can walk under water. Yellow Pikmin jump higher and dig faster than their peers. And so on, and so on.
In addition to these old familiar species, there’s also a newcomer: Ice Pikmin. These cool little plants can freeze both water and opponents. The frozen critters are a great asset and bring variety to my daily strategy.
I can command up to 100 Pikmin at any one time. If I make a stupid mistake that kills most of my squad, I can rewind time and try again. Anyone who knows Pikmin knows that situations like this are quite common. Among other things, because the controls are somewhat imprecise and fiddly in hectic situations. The rewind feature helps avoid unnecessary moments of frustration and saves time.
In addition, I can breed Pikmin. A glowing onion is stationed in my mobile base. When my Pikmin transport the mortal remains of enemies to the bulb, new plantlets suddenly sprout from the ground.
New in Part 4 is that I can now also order Oatchi around. Oatchi is a rescue dog and helps me on my mission. He’s a good boy. I also sic him on enemies and have him transport treasures and astronauts. In contrast to my colourful plant creatures, the yellow dog is a lot stronger. One especially useful trick is his ramming attack, paralysing enemies for a few seconds.
My Pikmin army and I can even ride Oatchi. This way we’re much more compact while wandering and offer a smaller attack surface for opponents. We also travel faster and more comfortably across levels on his back. Even waters and differences in altitude are no problem – Oatchi swims and hops gracefully through it all.
But the rescue dog is more than just an oversized Pikmin. I can control him separately and even let him command his own Pikmin army. This way, I can perform several tasks simultaneously and complete them quicker. At times, Pikmin 4 feels like a single-player co-op game.
This «solo co-op» feel is taken to the extreme in the new Dandori Challenges. In these bonus levels, I compete against wacky plant creatures waiting for me in underground arenas. The goal is to collect as much loot as possible in as little time as possible – either in a direct duel against the plant creatures or as a solo timed challenge.
«Dandori» is a Japanese term. It refers to the art of planning and efficient execution. In short: multitasking. And that’s exactly what’s required of me in these duels.
I have to plan neatly, use my Pikmin and Oatchi efficiently, and complete multiple tasks in parallel. All my sweet soldiers must have something to do at all times or I lose. The duels are a welcome contrast to the relaxed overworld levels, which I explore without stress.
At first, I’m completely overwhelmed by the stressful situation and lose myself in haphazard chaos. But with each successive duel, I internalise Dandori philosophy more and more. By the end of my journey, I’m a true multitasking god who can't get enough of these intense Dandori challenges.
Underground dungeons and night missions are also new on the menu. I reach the former through gaps above ground – shout out to Tears of the Kingdom. Some dungeons are surprisingly large and extend over several floors. There, I discover new Pikmin species and rescue numerous stranded space travellers.
The tightly designed underground levels are the complete opposite of the expansive, bright and friendly upper world, both visually and in terms of gameplay. Across the narrow corridors and small rooms, I’m forced to efficiently apply the Dandori principles I learned.
During night missions, I first explore the overworld after dark. These nighttime excursions play like tower defence levels. My goal is to protect so-called Lumiknolls from enemy attacks.
At night, enemies are more aggressive – they’re gripped by a rage that makes them unpredictable. To counteract this aggression, I have special Glow Pikmin at my disposal – another new species. They’re faster and stronger than normal Pikmin. They’re also immune to fire and poison attacks.
These nighttime battles make me work up quite a sweat. I constantly switch back and forth between my astronaut and Oatchi to keep the overwhelming hordes of enemies away from the Lumiknolls. Dandori!
Whether I'm searching for loot in levels, duelling, or defending Lumiknolls, all of the activities in Pikmin 4 are heaps of fun! Taken together, the different missions add up to an exciting gameplay mix that constantly alternates between relaxed exploration and stressful Dandori situations.
Between missions, I spend my time at the rescue crew base camp. Here I can take a breather and prepare for further excursions. Among other things, I unlock new skills for Oatchi and new items. What I like most about my camp is that I can feel the progress I make by completing missions.
Rescued astronauts populate the base over time and offer me side quests. The more loot I collect, the more destinations I can reach with my spaceship. And the more money I earn, the more items I can buy in the lab. It hyper-motivates me to see my little camp grow and constantly unlock new options.
Pikmin 4 is the most beautiful Switch game I've ever played. The miniature levels are full of tiny details that make the game world feel alive. Foliage floats towards the ground, butterflies flutter around, and wacky monstrosities populate the world. The graphical splendour is rounded off by atmospheric lighting. It looks beautiful, especially in the orange twilit hours. The partly muddy textures and slight pop-in effects don't make too much of a difference in the coherent overall picture.
It's amazing what Nintendo teases out of seven-year-old mobile hardware. And the best thing about it: in my 30 or so hours of play, I didn't experience any framerate drops. The game runs buttery smooth – even when 100 Pikmin are fighting against several opponents.
Nintendo has outdone itself with Pikmin 4. Compared to previous parts, the fourth Pikmin adventure plays in a completely different league. It’s a masterpiece in terms of gameplay and visuals, and for me it's already one of the best Switch and Nintendo games ever.
If you're even remotely interested in strategy games or want to work on your multitasking skills, you should definitely give Pikmin 4 a chance. And existing Pikmin fans can go for it without any hesitation.
Pikmin 4 will be released on 21 July for the Nintendo Switch. The game was provided to me by Nintendo for testing purposes.
Together with Nintendo, we're giving away a total of three Pikmin 4 copies, cool merchandise included. All you have to do is tell us which Pikmin is your favourite:
The competition has ended.