Twenty-two days ago, I wrote: “If Nintendo has hidden some amazing twist at the end of Pikmin 3 Deluxe, if the epilogue really delivers, the joke will be on me.” Today I am here to tell you there is no twist, at least not a plot twist at the end of the new Switch port of the 2013 Wii U adventure Pikmin 3. But the joke is indeed on me, because the epilogue is the best part of the game.
I discovered this wonderful fact a couple of weeks ago, once I played through Pikmin 3 Deluxe’s multi-mission epilogue, but couldn’t tell you until now. I’m not going to spoil anything about it other than to say it presents players with some pretty tough and very good new Pikmin levels.
The excellence of Pikmin 3’s epilogue is a secret. Nintendo had stipulated, as a condition of receiving game code early, that advance reviews couldn’t mention the epilogue. But, hey, the game’s out today, so I’m telling you all.
To back up for a moment, Pikmin 3 Deluxe for Nintendo Switch is mostly Pikmin 3 for Wii U. It’s a port of the third, excellent Pikmin strategy game. All of these games are about little explorers who can pluck tiny color-coded plant-people from the ground, grow more, and use them as a little ant-swarm army to collect treasure and fight relatively giant enemies. Deluxe adds more support for co-op play, as well as a forgettable prologue starring the series’ original protagonist, Captain Olimar.
I’d played Deluxe’s new prologue and disliked it. The missions were short and unexceptional. I assumed the epilogue would be more of the same. Not at all.
The epilogue takes the series’ familiar elements and arranges them in a batch of challenging levels that push what can be done in a Pikmin game. They don’t introduce new types of Pikmin, nor new enemies, nor any surprise settings, but they take the fundamentals of the franchise and play with them. And they all run on a pretty tight schedule, forcing players to manage their army of Pikmin with much greater care than the main Pikmin 3 requires.
The epilogue reminded me of the wonderful underground challenge levels of Pikmin 2. That part of the game remixed the series’ rules to challenge players to dive deep into a linear sequence of levels without the ability to grow more Pikmin. The epilogue is filled with those kinds of twists.
Deluxe’s new epilogue doesn’t last long, maybe extending the game by another two or three hours, but it sure does end things on a high note.
And, to be clear, Pikmin 3 Deluxe’s epilogue is not Pikmin 4. It probably wouldn’t justify a full-price purchase of Pikmin 3 Deluxe, if you’re a Pikmin fan who craves a completely new game. It is, though, some of the best Pikmin you could ever play. So consider this a tip: if you can, play the epilogue. For better or worse, you’ll have to clear the main game’s campaign first.