A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pikmin 3 Deluxe is an adventure game exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. The game's an enhanced re-release of a game that originally launched for Nintendo Wii U. It focuses on tiny alien astronauts exploring a remote planet for sources of food, and contains a subtle conservation theme as the heroes reflect on their need to voyage off-planet to feed their people. The astronauts also form a bond with plant-like but sentient pikmin creatures who happily do whatever they're told. The concepts of teamwork and cooperation come through as the astronauts and Pikmin (and, in local multiplayer, a second human player) work together to accomplish daunting physical tasks. But despite showing some sympathy for Pikmin that die in combat or drown in pools of water, the astronauts continue to use them, which at times feels a bit troubling. There's no blood or gore. Defeated Pikmin simply vanish, briefly appearing as spirits that float away in the air.
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What's it about?
PIKMIN 3 DELUXE is an enhanced Nintendo Switch version of the original Pikmin 3 for Wii U. Players once again take on the roles of a trio of astronauts who have travelled to a distant alien planet in hopes of finding food for their people. Upon arriving, they discover the Pikmin, a curious race of sentient plant-like creatures who seem happy to do the astronauts' bidding, whether that means battering down an obstacle by whacking it with their plant stalks, carrying and placing debris to form a bridge, or even fighting aggressive alien bugs. Up to 100 of these cute little characters -- which come in a handful of colors, each with their own unique advantages, such as being able to conduct electricity or crack crystals -- can be controlled at a time via simple whistle commands. A few changes and additions exclusive to this edition enhance the story mode experience, including the ability to play cooperatively with a friend (a good way to get a lot more done each day), being able to more easily target objects for Pikmin to interact with, and adjusting the difficulty for players of different skill levels. Outside of the campaign, players can once again engage in one-off side missions -- including new side story missions featuring the franchise's beloved Captain Olimar and Louie -- and competitive challenges that involve using Pikmin to find and collect objects.
Is it any good?
The original Wii U game is an overlooked classic deserving of a chance to find new players on Nintendo's popular hybrid console. Pikmin 3 Deluxe sensibly preserves much of the original experience, including the captivating story of the three main astronauts as they discover not just the Pikmin, but also traces of a lost civilization and notes left lying around by Captain Olimar, protagonist of the first two Pikmin games, who visited the planet before them. The Pikmin are as adorable as ever (you're bound to feel a wave of sadness whenever you see a ghost rise up from one defeated in combat), and the act of commanding them to do your bidding remains as strangely compelling as ever. Once you get into a groove, assigning multiple groups to different tasks to save time and using their unique abilities to solve clever puzzles within the environment, it can be hard to stop playing. Luckily, the game's authentic day/night cycle encourages us to take regular breaks -- even if many players are bound to immediately dive right back in to play the next day.
As good as the original game was, the new content and features improve the overall experience. Simple improvements, such as the ability to toss Pikmin with improved accuracy and alter difficulty (or access hints) when things get a bit tricky, should serve to make the experience accessible to a wider variety of players. Plus, the ability to play the entire campaign with a friend in co-op lets players get stuff done more quickly as well as enjoy the game in the company of others. Other extras -- especially the fun new side-story missions with Olimar -- provide returning players something fresh to enjoy in addition to replaying the original game. Pikmin 3 Deluxe isn't a replacement for a brand new entry in this quirky little series, but it ought to help introduce a new generation of players to Nintendo's cute space-themed fantasy and prepare them for the (hopefully inevitable) arrival of Pikmin 4.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. Pikmin 3 Deluxe is broken into individual days of exploration, but are you satisfied playing one or two simulated days at a time? How much time do you think you should be allowed to play each day?
Pikmin 3 Deluxe demonstrates how many hands can make like work of daunting tasks, but have you ever been grateful for having the help of others to accomplish something important to you?
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