Pikmin 4 review - A very pleasant time

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A group of Pikmin fighting an ice enemy.

After my Pikmin 4 preview, I was left very excited to explore more of the game. As a newcomer to Nintendo's light strategy game series, its ceaselessly endearing visual design and easy-to-grasp gameplay loop was a great way in.

Having now finished the game, Pikmin 4 definitely sticks the landing. In over 20 hours of gameplay - far more than I ever anticipated when starting off - I never grew tired of the immensely satisfying job of looking after my own troupe of plant-based pals.

As such, Pikmin 4 could be the under-discussed gem of Nintendo's behemoth 2023 slate. It may not be as flashy as Zelda or as immediately beloved as Super Mario Bros. Wonder, but Pikmin 4 is more than worth your time.

A rocket ship in Pikmin 4.
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As with other games in the series, Pikmin 4 does have a story running through it, but nothing too overt. The basic setup tasks you, a customisable player character, with rescuing series favourite Captain Olimar from a shipwreck on a planet closely resembling Earth.

I say closely, because there are some major changes to our world in Pikmin 4, even if the locations appear broadly similar. Each of the open hub worlds in the game are brimming with enemies prowling, eager to take you down. You'll spend a lot of time dealing with these gruesome creatures, often based on existing animals with a fantastical twist.

Your quest to find Olimar takes you across plenty of regions, from sunny biomes to areas resembling a nice open-plan kitchen. The Pikmin series uniquely captures the sensation of being a tiny fish in an average-sized pond, and that's the standout here. I loved checking out new areas, seeing which household items tower over me and my group of Pikmin warriors. I won't spoil any of the specific treasures you'll come across, but Nintendo fans should keep an eye out for some incredibly nostalgic loot.

Red Pikmin hitting a wall in Pikmin 4.
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Pikmin 4's gameplay is all about the concept of 'dandori': tactically balancing all the tasks on your plate to ensure they're done as efficiently as possible. This is a skill you'll learn as Pikmin 4 slowly but surely unravels its playbox of abilities and mechanics to you.

Everything becomes a balancing act where you cordon off part of a hub world, dedicate Pikmin to one task, and send others to fulfil other objectives. It's all about spinning plates and making sure none of your Pikmin are stood idle, which only becomes easier once you recruit more to your ranks.

There's plenty of combat too, but rather than manually performing attacks, you instead command your forces to fight on your behalf. This hands-off approach was quite new to me, but there's nothing quite as satisfying as spamming the A button to send your Pikmin into battle, only to watch an enemy's health bar slowly deplete.

But combat really isn't the focus - instead, it's all about exploration, combing your way through worlds to collect more Sparklium and rescue castaways. In the 20 hours I spent with the game I never got tired of this loop, and it gives you more than enough worlds to explore and environmental hazards to bypass to keep you busy.

That said, the first three to four hours are incredibly hand-holdy, something I also noted in my preview. This was by far the most grating part of playing Pikmin 4, because once you finally grasp the range of mechanics, it can feel constraining to have to continue sifting through long scenes of dialogue or slow menus. In some ways that's a compliment to Pikmin 4, because I enjoyed playing it so much that any point I wasn't doing so felt a bit painful.

A group of Pikmin next to the base in Pikmin 4.
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Visuals and performance

I spent most of my time with Pikmin 4 on a Nintendo Switch OLED in handheld mode, and it's more than up to the task of running the game. Sure, it's not as demanding as a game like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, but these hub worlds are meticulously detailed and incredibly vibrant.

The only drawback to this textured visual design is the long load times, especially when booting into worlds. These aren't too grating but are probably upwards of 20 to 30 seconds, though it's understandable given the scale of visual quality on display here.


Those performance issues are minor when compared to just how fun Pikmin 4 is to play. It may not revolutionise the gaming scene like Tears of the Kingdom appears to have done, but it's a great continuation of the franchise that perfects all of its mechanics in one cohesive package.

Pikmin 4 is a barrel of fun and one that I never expected to enjoy as much as I did. It's very easy to get hooked on the simple-to-learn gameplay, but becoming a dandori master is a whole different kettle of fish.

Pikmin 4 review
Pikmin 4 is a blast, and a game I never expected to be quite as intensely engrossing as it is. From stunning visuals to hugely endearing gameplay, it's a fresh return for the series.
Nintendo Switch

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch OLED. A code was provided by the publisher.

For more articles like this, take a look at our Reviews and Pikmin 4 page.