After having made the jump to hyperspace only to come out in an asteroid field and crash land on a strange, yet somehow familiar planet, Captain Olimar finds himself stranded and unable to get home. His ship’s computer locates a fuel leak, but otherwise the ship can be repaired. The problem is, Olimar must find 30,000 Sparklium to get the ship ready for flight. To do that, he’s going to have to get the help of many hundreds of locals — the Pikmin.
Hey! Pikmin is actually the first Pikmin game I have played, and I believe it’s the fourth in the series. This game marks the first 2D, side-scrolling Pikmin adventure. As the box notes, this game is strictly 2D-only. Gameplay is simple, accessible, addictive, and fun. Like many Nintendo games, the game plays out across multiple ‘worlds’, with levels and stages in those worlds that lead up to a boss fight. Separate ‘secret’ stages are available, including some short bonus ones that you can use your amiibo on to trigger special challenges and treasures that give you more Sparklium towards that end goal of 30,000.
Obtaining 30,000 Sparklium might seem like a lot, but it’s paced very well, with different milestones unlocking additional abilities, such as a map view when you get 2,000 (probably an hour or so in) and a small health meter bump when you hit 6,000. Control is done through the analog stick and stylus only; you move with the stick and command Pikmin and interact with the UI with the stylus. The ‘Hey!’ part of the game’s title comes from using Captain Olimar’s whistle to get the Pikmin in the area to come out of their hiding places and regroup on Olimar when they get separated.
Each stage plays out with a straight-forward goal of getting from A to B and collecting as much Sparklium and Pikmin as you can along the way. Different Pikmin have different abilities such as fireproofed red ones, waterproof blue ones, yellow ones that are not phased by electrical dangers but can also be thrown higher/farther than other Pikmin, and so forth. To begin with, you will have just one kind of Pikmin, but as the game progresses, you will have multiple Pikmin at your call that you switch between by tapping their avatar in the bottom of the HUD.
Pikmin are great for all kinds of tasks; tossing them with quick, intuitive stylus movements gets them over and up to new areas, where they will automatically claim Sparklium from seeds and bring it back, or stack up on whatever multi-Pikmin object there might be, such as a large rock that might require a dozen Pikmin to push for example. Dealing with the enemies in Hey! Pikmin is not unlike what you find in a Mario or Kirby game, they can harm you, but their patterns are brief and simple and they usually don’t take many hits. Plus, the more Pikmin you (literally) throw at them, the quicker they fall. In addition to dealing with enemies, there are also environmental puzzles to figure out, none of which are that hard, but they do provide an enjoyable boost to the gameplay. It’s usually within these puzzles that you unveil the treasure items, which have a lot of fun variance in themselves, from rings to toothbrushes to all sorts of other things, these treasure items are worth at least 100 Sparklium and there are typically three to find per stage.
Stages are short, but like other Nintendo platformers often warrant a second or third playthrough to find all of the treasures or to claim more Pikmin to put in the Pikmin Park. The Park is a sort of ‘always on’ area where you can send Pikmin out in groups based on their type to search for and harvest Sparklium. Doing this alone certainly won’t yield enough Sparklium to get your ship fueled up and on its way, but it’s a fun way to earn a little more Sparklium in the background while you’re out on expedition in the man stages. Plus, any Pikmin you bring back from stages, even ones you replay, will get added to the Park, speeding up search and recovery efforts.
Presentation quality with Hey! Pikmin is very nice. I have to admit I love the soundtrack, the ambient music fits the idea of exploring a “strange” world nicely and it’s soothing music to go along with a fun game that is engaging, mildly challenging, and very rarely frustrating. Graphics and animations are nice, with an appreciable amount of charm to Olimar and the Pikmin, as well as the numerous enemies.
As my first Pikmin experience, I really enjoyed Hey! Pikmin for a variety of reasons and found little wrong with it. Whether you have played a Pikmin game before or not, or are just looking for a fun game that’s not too easy and certainly not too hard, give this one a go. I believe a demo is still available from the eShop at the time of this writing as well.