Nintendo Switch
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Don’t know anything about Pikmin? Start here!

The Pikmin™ 4 game just came out, so newcomers may have some questions. Important questions like “What’s up with those weird little guys?” and “Why are all the plants huge?” and “Do some of these creatures even have noses?” While we won’t get into that last one, let’s cover some Pikmin basics.

Quick note: This article will be spilt into two parts. Part 1 gives you a bird’s-eye view of the game while Part 2 will cover specific game modes and stuff like that. Now, let’s get to answering questions!

Do I need to play the other Pikmin games first?

Nope! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played a Pikmin game—Pikmin 4 is a good introduction to the series. Sure, you’ll find some references to past games, but you won’t be missing out.

If you’re on the fence, you can try the beginning of the game yourself by downloading a free demo from Nintendo.com (see the link below) or Nintendo eShop on your device. Your save will also transfer over if you choose to buy the full game later on.

OK, so what IS this game all about?

The story starts with a space explorer named Olimar crash-landing on an alien planet where everything looks supersized—from plants to ponds to … objects that curiously look familiar.

The good news is that the fearless Rescue Corps were sent to save him. The bad news is that the Rescue Corps also crash landed. (How embarrassing!)

You play as a rookie Rescue Corps member who’s the last hope to rescue everyone.

What about the Pikmin though?

A fair question given it’s the name of the game! Pikmin are curious and loyal plantlike creatures who will help you out on your adventure.

You see, while your character is very gutsy, your actions are somewhat limited—so you’ll need help exploring the planet. The solution is to (quite literally) throw Pikmin at the problem. Don’t worry, they seem cool with it! (We think …)

If you say so. What do they do exactly?

Being a born leader, you’ll nurture different types of Pikmin and direct them to do various things. Each area you explore is full of treasure, enemies, and hidden pathways. You can use your Pikmin to carry treasure back to your base, battle creatures, assist with growing more Pikmin, and find new paths by smashing walls or building bridges.

You will also come across underground caves that have interesting contraptions and puzzles to figure out.

How are Pikmin types different?

Each Pikmin type has its own specialties. For example, Red Pikmin are good all-arounders who are also fireproof. Blue Pikmin can survive underwater. Ice Pikmin can freeze both enemies and even pools of water if you have enough of them. There are nine types of Pikmin in all so you’ll need to pick the right Pikmin for whatever problem you’re trying to solve.

Oh, one more thing—you’ll definitely want to finish your expedition before the sun goes down in the game.

Uh … what happens when the sun goes down?

So, any Pikmin who aren’t near your ship when the sun goes down will, um, not make it to the next day. This game is very much about exploring, planning, puzzle-solving, battling, and then adapting if/when things go wrong … all while being efficient about it. As the leader, it’s up to you if you want to turn back to make sure everyone is safely accounted for, or make a risky push against the clock to nab some more treasure. (Hey, we won’t judge either way.)

Later on in the game, you can also revisit areas at night and use Glow Pikmin to light your way forward. But let’s stop there because Part 2 of this article will cover more detailed stuff like that—including how the adorable rescue pup, Oatchi, fits into things!

What’s the best way to play?

It’s really up to you! While you do have to battle creatures from time to time, you can pick how you want to approach them. If you’re more of an “ask questions later” kind of person, you can charge in with your plucky squad and try to uproot your opponent. If you like to strategize and plan, you’re free to think about your approach, which Pikmin you want to bring with you, and all that. As the adventure goes on, you’ll even get items that can help you set up some traps in advance!

You can buy Pikmin 4 (or download the demo) using the link below.