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  1. In the continuing trend of porting every major Wii U game to the Switch, Pikmin 3 Deluxe revamps the 2013 Wii U title with new side-story missions as well as co-op gameplay. Although it's somewhat disappointing to see the Wii U grow more and more pointless, it's great to see its hidden gems find new life on a more popular console, and Pikmin 3 is definitely a gem. Instead of Captain Olimar—protagonist of the first two Pikmin games—Pikmin 3 stars a trio of space explorers from the planet Koppai as they search the galaxy for new sources of food. Alph, Brittany, and Charlie crash land on the planet PNF-404 where they discover massive, bountiful fruits which they are able to collect with the aid of Pikmin. The story in Pikmin 3 is an absolutely adorable, almost bedtime-story-esque take on a sci-fi adventure. The protagonists are charming—and surprisingly relaxed about their relatively dire situation—and their log entries describing the fruit and creatures they discover are simply a delight to read. The trio isn't quite as melancholy and pensive as Olimar was with his log entries, which gave the previous games a unique sense of gravitas, but their logs are engaging in their own ways and it's still worth taking the time to read them all. The gameplay of the Pikmin series is real-time strategy: our heroes are only able to explore the planet during the day as deadly creatures come out at night, so you have a limited amount of time to explore each region, collect fruit, and grow Pikmin. You can use up to 100 Pikmin at once, directing them to carry objects or fight the ferocious fauna of PNF-404, and each type of Pikmin has its own use. Red (fire-resistant), yellow (electricity-resistant and can be thrown farther), and blue (can breathe underwater) return from previous games, while rock (can break crystal objects) and flying (can…well, fly) are new to Pikmin 3. Using each type for the appropriate task is the key to success as you and your Pikmin scramble to get as much done as possible each day while the clock constantly ticks down to sunset. All of the Pikmin games strike a wonderful balance of engaging and challenging real-time gameplay while still being accessible enough for a wide variety of players to enjoy, and Pikmin 3 is no different. Making efficient use of your time and Pikmin and seeing the literal fruits of your hard work (or more precisely, your Pikmin's hard work) is incredibly satisfying, and also makes the game quite addictive—there's always more to explore, and never enough time in one day to see it all. Pikmin 3 also emphasizes multi-tasking thanks to the three protagonists at your disposal. You can direct them to move about the map separately, allowing you to cover more ground in a single day. You can't get too specific with telling them exactly what to do, unfortunately, but the juggling act of using all three is still fun and allows you to make extremely efficient use of your time. So what's new for this Switch edition of the game? First there's the new side-missions that challenge the player with short, score-based tasks, starring Olimar and Louie. These are similar to the Mission Mode from the original version of the game and provide bite-sized challenges. They aren't terribly robust challenges and they simply recycle maps from the main story, but they add some new content, which is certainly welcome, and it's nice to be back in the captain's chair with Olimar. Both the side-stories and Mission Mode also serve as a nice test of your Pikmin skills, putting all of your collecting, fighting, and multi-tasking abilities on display with your high score. Pikmin 3 Deluxe also includes all of the DLC of the original version, so there's plenty to play. There are also some nice quality of life updates here, including three separate save files, difficulty options, a hint system for new/inexperienced players, and co-op for the main story. The co-op is local, same-system multiplayer only unfortunately, but having another player can make your progress even more efficient, and may be just what you need to tackle the Ultra Spicy difficulty level. And coordinating strategies in a real-time game can be a lot of fun. The Wii U version of the game had a number of control scheme options, and the best was probably one of the strangest: using a Wii remote and nunchuk for main controls and the Wii U Gamepad as a second screen for map information and directing your other captains. It was a bizarre set-up but wonderfully efficient, and sadly the Switch's control schemes can't quite live up to that. Being able to point on the screen where you wanted to throw Pikmin was perfect, and the Joy-Cons motion controls just don't match up. Worse yet, using the Pro Controller means you're often relying on the lock-on system which can be extremely messy when there are multiple targets close together. This is all a little too harsh on the Switch's control options though; the controls on the Switch are fine and perfectly usable, they just aren't ideal. This Deluxe edition doesn't change much in the visual or audio department, but it really didn't need to anyway. Pikmin 3 is still a beautiful game and runs perfectly smoothly on the Switch. The Pikmin themselves are still adorable, the enemy creatures are a fun mix of inventive, cute, and threatening, and the scenery is lush, perfectly capturing the feeling of zooming in on a lively little garden. The soundtrack is also charming and soothing, the perfect match for exploring a colorful and lively world of miniature beasts and giant fruit. The years haven't done anything to dull the charm of Pikmin 3. It remains an engaging and adorable real-time strategy adventure, one that makes micromanaging tasks both fun and rewarding. This Deluxe edition of the game features some relatively minor additions, but the new content is still welcome and perfect if you have a buddy to enjoy the game with. Although fans of the franchise might still be pining for a Pikmin 4 or any other kind of mainline continuation of the series, Pikmin 3 Deluxe is a worthwhile return to the delightful world of miniature creatures. Rating: 9 out of 10 Pikmin
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