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Pikmin 1 (Switch) Review Mini

by Melanie Zawodniak - June 23, 2023, 7:29 pm EDT
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One of Nintendo's best is back with compromise.

When Pikmin 1 was announced to be coming to Switch, the first thing I wanted to know was what version of the game it would be based on. The original Pikmin has only been ported once as part of the New Play Control line of games on Wii, and while the Wii Remote pointer controls were the obvious selling point there were actually some big quality of life changes that it’s easy to forget were never in the original GameCube version. In the original Pikmin, you couldn’t swap the color of Pikmin you were holding before a throw, meaning you had to carefully stand next to whichever type you needed before picking it up. The AI attached to Yellow Pikmin carrying bomb rocks was also different; on GameCube they would drop the bombs immediately upon being called with the whistle which could lead to some accidental deaths, while on Wii the Pikmin would only drop their rocks after being thrown and even automatically move away from bombs that were about to detonate. The most substantial change on Wii was that the game’s save system was overhauled, allowing you to rewind to a previous day from the file select screen in order to correct any mistakes you had made without losing more of your limited in-game time.

Since the Switch obviously doesn’t have a controller that uses a sensor bar, I didn’t want to take for granted that we’d be getting the improved Wii version of the game on Switch. Thankfully my fears were unfounded, and Pikmin 1 on Switch seems to be a 1:1 port of the New Play Control version. Even some minor graphical changes like on-screen arrows that direct swarming Pikmin, colored UI elements noting which Onion the Pikmin were carrying an item back to, and the color of Pikmin ghosts corresponding to their fallen soldier are all retained from the New Play Control version. If anything has changed in the game’s presentation besides the UI being upscaled to match the HD resolution, then it’s subtle enough that only the most hardcore of fans would notice.

Without the option to use a pointer, the game’s default controls are mostly the same as on GameCube, but an option has been added to enable the use of gyro aiming while whistling or throwing Pikmin. This is the biggest compromise that Pikmin 1 has made in the transition to Switch since the gyro is only enabled in context-sensitive situations, making it difficult to quickly micromanage your cursor between targets. I don’t think this will be a problem for first-time players—it’s still more versatile than the original GameCube version—but every ounce of muscle memory I had while playing screamed that this feels bad.

Pikmin 1 on Switch is not the definitive version of this game; the Wii Remote’s pointer controls were a perfect fit for Pikmin and their absence is deeply felt. That said, this is likely the best Pikmin 1 can be on a system that doesn’t have a pointer, and the core design still holds up as one of the best debuts a Nintendo franchise has ever had. Longtime fans might be better off digging out their old Wii Remotes for the New Play Control version, but this is a fine place to start if you want to see what the big deal is while we wait for Pikmin 4.

While I’m here, let me give a quick note on Pikmin 2: It’s been a long time since I played Pikmin 2 so I didn’t want to write a hasty review of it without really putting time into it, but as far as I can tell it also appears to be a straight port of the New Play Control version with the same control scheme on Switch as Pikmin 1. The single immediate change I could see was that the Duracell battery in the game’s opening stage has been replaced with a fake generic brand, which probably applies to the other licensed real-world products throughout the game.



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Worldwide Releases

na: Pikmin 1
Release Jun 21, 2023

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