Pikmin has always been Nintendo’s answer to the Real Time Strategy(RTS) genre. The goals were simple, find Pikmin, keep them alive, find the item you need, and bring it back to your ship. It provided a nice and unique spin to a genre that had been largely stuck in the past. Hey! Pikmin takes the Pikmin franchise out of the 3D space of an RTS and moves it into a 2D plane. While the overall theme of the game has remained the same, the rest has changed drastically.
The biggest change in Hey! Pikmin is its switch to a 2D plane, and with it, a set of mechanics needing to be changed. Captain Olimar (the protagonist) can now only move from left to right on his missions, limiting the depth of levels compared to previous entries. In an effort to compensate, Hey! Pikmin attempts to use the dual screen nature of the 3DS, expanding vertically. Levels are designed to be tall but regularly fail to take advantage of this screen space. While playing through levels you will find enemies often emerging from the top screen, working their way down to the bottom to attack you, but rarely are they a threat. In world three for example, there are crystals hanging from the roof of the cave that will fall once you pass under them. As long as you keep moving, they create no issues.
Consistently throughout Hey! Pikmin there is a want to use the top screen for something engaging or interesting. Occasionally it does, some puzzles and underwater levels can make great use of this vertical space. However, most of the time it instead makes Hey! Pikmin feel small and cramped with all the action needing to happen on only the touch screen.
With no traditional or motion controls easily usable for Hey! Pikmin, the bottom 3DS touch screen takes the spotlight. The main mechanic used in Hey! Pikmin is as you might imagine…throwing Pikmin. Pikmin come in a variety of versions with each having their own abilities. For example, yellow Pikmin can conduct electricity, rock Pikmin can be used to break crystals, and blue Pikmin can swim. As you progress through levels you will find Pikmin behind rocks or hiding in tall grass ready to join your party. Pikmin can be used in two primary ways, attacking enemies or solving puzzles. Most enemies are simple to defeat and just require a Pikmin or two to destroy with little to no strategy. Puzzle difficulty ranges from simple to average, with the most complicated puzzles only truly being difficult because of one’s eagerness to destroy an object before it was known it was needed.
This truly sums up Hey! Pikmin as a whole. Nothing is complicated, nothing is difficult, and that’s just fine. Playing Hey! Pikmin gives a similar feeling to a Kirby game where just going through the level brings its own set of enjoyment. You find Pikmin (who are adorable), solve a few easy puzzles, and collect resources in the process; rinse and repeat.
Nothing goes outside of this formula, making it an average game. Lacking enough style or interesting mechanics that outshine its other average qualities.