It’s apt that my first videogame review for Recharged is a game that has pulled me out of a slump that usually follows the end credits of a memorable game (in this case, Resident Evil 4).
It’s likely a combination of work demands, running a household, trying to consume at least one popular TV show for relevance’s sake, doom scrolling Instagram reels of old TikToks, and trying to be a present and engaging father so my 4-year-old isn’t primarily raised by Blippi and Caitie’s classroom; but I’m a lot more discerning with my game time these days, with fewer titles holding my attention for more than a few hours.
For the uninitiated, Pikmin 4 is a real-time strategy game with bursts of puzzles in which your avatar is a character (customizable for the first time, with very limited options unfortunately, so no beard for my guy) that controls little half-plant half-animal/sentient beings called Pikmin, to do your light bidding. Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Star Wars, you won’t be punished for not knowing the mythology or playing the previous titles, so the barrier to entry is low.
I didn’t have a Gamecube, so my first experience with Pikmin was Pikmin 3 on the Nintendo Wii U a decade ago. While I enjoyed it, it never imprinted on me like the major Nintendo franchises like Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, and the like. Glad to share Pikmin 4 joins those luminary characters as essential gaming on Nintendo consoles.
It’s a testament to Nintendo that they have such a deep library of first-party titles that their developers can experiment with new gameplay mechanics, design choices, and direction. Compare this to Xbox, for example, where every first-party exclusive feels like a make or break for the console (Redfall being a case in point of a game I couldn’t play for more than two hours).
Pikmin 4’s strategy comes into play with how you command and direct your Pikmin to accumulate resources, leveraging the various types for different tasks and puzzles (Ice Pikmin for freezing or blue Pikmin for swimming) along with a dog-like creature named Oatchi.
At the core of Pikmin 4 lies a gameplay experience that emphasizes the art of nurturing and the rewards of thoughtful strategy. The mechanics encourage players to cultivate a relationship with their Pikmin, directing them to overcome challenges and navigate through a world that feels straight out of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (hopefully not my last millennial reference).
This measured and often calming approach contrasts starkly with the frantic pace that defines a lot of modern gaming, providing a sanctuary where games become an escape and release, and not a stress amplifier.
Pikmin’s graphics are bright and cheerful, the landscapes diverse and adorned with a tapestry of lush hues and intricate details, evoking a sense of exploration and wonder, complemented by a bubbly and whimsical score that, while isn’t as memorable as some of its Nintendo peers (I catch myself humming Donkey Kong Country and Legend of Zelda tracks all the time), pairs well with the design elements.
The game has a gentle learning curve, with the only downside being the pacing in the first few hours, which oddly reminded me of Red Dead Redemption 2. But like that game, sticking through is very rewarding. The difficulty does ramp up a bit a few hours in but never to the point of frustration or the feeling that the game is cheating you.
I felt tested in my play-through without feeling overwhelmed. The game presents players with a substantial canvas of content that can be explored at your own leisure, with a very healthy replayability factor, which is comforting, considering gaming is often an expensive hobby.
This longevity is further amplified by the open-ended nature of the gameplay, which encourages experimentation. I’ve put in a healthy number of hours into the game, and I am not close to 100 percent.
Pikmin 4 lends itself well to Nintendo’s hybrid console because even though I played it docked most of the time, there were a few times I jumped into handheld mode when I wanted a change of pace (but mostly to justify the massive beanbag I purchased a few years ago that has a worse utilization rate in my house after my second lemon zester – one is more than enough).
There’s a lot more I can share about the game and its philosophy and quirks, but half the fun is in discovering all that for yourself. So, if you’re looking for a family-friendly, accessible, and joyful game, I highly recommend Pikmin 4, especially if you want a calming game that constantly delights.
Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. firstname.lastname@example.org