Night Time Exploration Gives Pikmin 4 a Whole New Feel

Highlights Pikmin 4 introduces features like creating a character, charismatic NPCs, and adorable new Pikmin, making the 10-year wait worth it. The addition of nighttime gameplay in Pikmin 4 is a unique feature that sets it apart from previous games in the series. The new nighttime missions in Pikmin 4 reinvent the series, forcing players to think on their toes and providing a challenge for even the most experienced players.

Pikmin fans may have had to wait 10 years for Pikmin 4, but Nintendo introduced a plethora of new features to make that wait worth it. Players can finally create their own character, the new NPCs are extremely charismatic, the new Pikmin are a delight, and fans have quickly fallen in love with the adorable Oatchi. There is so much to love about Pikmin 4, but perhaps the coolest addition comes in the form of nighttime gameplay.

Nighttime has always been a scary thing throughout the Pikmin series. Since the first Pikmin, players have had to run and hide during this period. While Pikmin 4 could have continued that trend, Nintendo chose to finally open up that time for a new type of mission. They are not the most advanced pieces of content around, but they really help Pikmin 4 stand above everything that came before.

Pikmin 4 Gives Nighttime a Chance A screenshot from Pikmin 4 depicting a Red Bulborb with glowing red eyes at night.

The first Pikmin game was on a 30-day timer which gave nighttime a purpose. For gameplay purposes, this served as a way to mark the end of the day and the start of the new one. Players would have to rush back to their spaceship before sunset if they wanted a chance to survive. Any Pikmin left behind would be killed by wandering enemies, and then players could see an end-of-day cutscene depending upon the area that they were in.

According to the Pikmin story, nighttime was dangerous because it was when monsters became more aggressive. No one was safe during these periods as predators roamed the land, but players could only see them via the end-of-day cutscenes. It really had no effect on the gameplay and was just a unique aspect of the story instead, and that was part of its charm.

Pikmin 2 removed the 30-day countdown but kept the scariness of nighttime. The cutscenes were a bit different this time around as more enemies would appear depending upon how many Pikmin were left behind, but the concept was the same. Pikmin 3 continued this trend but reverted it to how the cutscenes worked in the first game. There were still no major gameplay reasons for the concept, but it became an integral part of the lore.

Instead of replicating the past, Nintendo chose to take the Pikmin franchise in a new direction with Pikmin 4. After players rescue Yonny, they are able to unlock a new type of mission known as Night Expeditions. These new missions let players explore previously discovered bases at night and defend a structure known as a Lumiknoll in a tower defense-like mode. It is unlike anything the franchise has seen before, and it hopefully becomes a series staple going forward.

These nighttime missions go a long way in reinventing the Pikmin series, and they put many of the game’s unique mechanics front and center. Players can only use Glow Pikmin and Oatchi during these missions, and they can get pretty difficult as players progress. These allies are great additions to the core gameplay loop, and the missions force players to really think on their toes. While they are not perfect, they really help make Pikmin 4 stand out.

Nighttime is still something to be feared in the Pikmin universe, but now players can actually see what that means. It gives them insight into a part of the lore they never got to experience, and that really helps build out this universe more. It is also not for the faint of heart as it can challenge even the most veteran of players, and that makes Pikmin 4 feel special.

Pikmin 4 is available now on Switch.

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