Pikmin 4: 7 Things Only Players of the Previous Games in the Series Noticed
Pikmin 4 offers everything that long-time fans of the series could wish for. It combines the best elements from all previous games (while cleverly pre...
Pikmin 4 offers everything that long-time fans of the series could wish for. It combines the best elements from all previous games (while cleverly pretending Hey Pikmin! never existed) and thus provides the ultimate experience of subjugating small plant-like creatures. Naturally, purely for strategic reasons.
Given the fact that players have been waiting for a fourth installment for over a decade, it is only natural that it is filled with flashbacks and references to previous adventures, rewarding their patience. Although Pikmin 4 can be considered a "soft reboot" of sorts, it certainly doesn't lack such homages.
1 Louie's Treachery
For a series where most characters are depicted in candy-colored representations of good or... well, not directly "evil" but "carnivorous," Louie is quite a complex character. In Pikmin 2, he accompanied Olimar on his mission to repay the debts of Hocotate Freight, only to reveal that he himself was responsible for the entire problem. He had stuffed himself with Pikpik carrots, accumulating a massive bill. Greedy? Certainly, but also easily dismissed as childish.
In Pikmin 4, however, the guy is a threat. In contrast to Olimar's pleasant demeanor, his diary entries come across as disturbingly detached and immature. It turns out he is responsible for forcibly transforming various crew members into leafy beings and dragging them into the onion, attempting to shake off the Rescue Corps. It's a somewhat understandable motivation, but when he hijacks a giant dog and literally tries to kill you, all bets are off. He is also surprisingly quickly forgiven. Long-time players will recognize that Louie's downward spiral continues unabated.
2 Olimar's Adventure Deja Vu
The story of Pikmin 4 draws heavily from the original trilogy, and nowhere is this more evident than in Olimar's story. For the majority of the game, you are trying to locate the legendary captain himself after he sends out a distress signal. Once you find him, you can play a side mode as Olimar, reliving the events that led to his stranding—and it feels darn familiar.
Fans will immediately notice that Olimar's adventure unfolds almost exactly like in Pikmin 1. After crash-landing on PNF-404 (i.e., Earth), you will gradually collect each type of Pikmin in the same order as in the original game. You will find the same spaceship parts with the same functions, more or less in the same order, and all within a time limit, unlike the rest of Pikmin 4. It's as if Nintendo has included a complete remake of Pikmin 1 within the post-game content, and fans are sure to love it.
3 Emperor Bulblax and Co. Return
The final boss of Pikmin 1, Emperor Bulblax, was an intimidating challenge. Up until this point in the game, your enemies were either of medium size or had obvious weaknesses when they were larger. Not so with the Emperor. He is enormous, fights in a confined space, and is composed of approximately 70 percent tongue. All of this leads to a lot of dead Pikmin if you're not prepared.
In Pikmin 4, the Emperor returns - fortunately, with a decrease in both its status and size. It is now a recurring mini-boss and can be easily defeated with the new Frost Pikmin. This represents a satisfying reversal of roles for experienced players of the series. Instead, the new large, robust variant is known as the Sovereign Bulblax, reminiscent of the power that longtime fans remember.
In its comeback, it is accompanied by the notorious Smoky Progg, another archenemy from the past, as well as the stone-like Mamuta, whose connection to a long-standing fan theory has been confirmed through their data entries.
4 Pikmin 3 Crew Relatives
The post-game content of Pikmin 4 is incredibly generous and effectively doubles your playtime if you're willing to invest the hours. One of the main objectives of these additional missions is to rescue three specific stranded individuals: Yorke, Nelle, and Don Bergman (one of these names doesn't fit with the others). Once you have rescued them, you may realize that they strongly resemble the playable trio from Pikmin 3.
And by "strongly resemble," we mean "obviously copied." Yorke bears a striking resemblance to Alph, Nelle is the spitting image of Brittany, and Don Bergman is likely a cousin from Charlie's criminal family. This becomes even more apparent in their profiles and some dialogues, where we are told that Yorke is a brother of Alph. Why the team from Pikmin 3 couldn't be part of the events in Part 4, which otherwise brings back all the significant characters of the series, can only be speculated upon. Perhaps they are on vacation.
5 Reimagined Dungeons
An important innovation that Pikmin 2 brought compared to its predecessor was the introduction of dungeons. Whenever you entered an underground cave, the usual strategy-action (and gameplay time) was interrupted to allow for approximately 30 minutes of cave exploration. A popular element among fans, these caves were notably absent in Pikmin 3, but Pikmin 4 brings them back with a bang.
One drawback of the Pikmin 2 caves was that they were randomly and procedurally generated. This meant that you often encountered levels that either contained nothing or were impossibly difficult, teeming with enemies. That is not the case in Pikmin 4 - each and every cave is carefully crafted, showcasing Nintendo's creative spark.
Some, like Pikmin 2's "Submerged Castle," even make a return under new names. It turns out that actual level design works wonders. Conveyor belt puzzles with Oatchi, boss levels where you have to change the environmental temperature, memory tests with buttons - it's all here.
6 PNF-404 Revisited
It is now a pretty open secret that the Pikmin franchise takes place on Earth. Whether it is a post-apocalyptic world, as evidenced by the absence of humans, or if everyone is simply on vacation, depends on which fan theories you believe. The point is, it is Earth, and that only adds to the charm as Olimar and Co. try to decipher the function of ordinary everyday objects.
Pikmin 4 takes it a step further. For the first time, you can go beyond the gardens and fields of our planet and enter a house. A conspicuously clean, well-maintained house - take that, post-apocalyptic theory! It also becomes evident that time has passed since the original Pikmin trilogy, based on the items you find. While you will still come across "relics" like Game Boy Advance cartridges, you will also encounter Switch Joy-Cons and discover huge 4K televisions. Technology and your Pikmin army are advancing.
7 Hocotate Freight In Trouble
When you reunite with Olimar and Louie, they occasionally mention their careers back on Hocotate as long-distance drivers for the shipping company Hocotate Freight. They are the company that suffered from Louie's aforementioned insatiable appetite, and in Pikmin 4, some playful nods are given to the company and its long-suffering CEO. The President himself even makes a visual cameo appearance in a dialogue bubble.
More importantly, Olimar mentions in one of his data logs that he woke up from a nightmare in which Hocotate Freight was brought to ruin by the actions of a "subordinate." This is a clear reference to the plot of Pikmin 2 but raises some interesting questions. Were the events of this sequel just a dream that Olimar had during this adventure? Were the first two games (at least) retconned out of canon? Or does Olimar simply have a poor memory? Only Nintendo can truly answer these questions, but regardless of the truth, Hocotate Freight won't be getting its money back anytime soon.