Highlights Pikmin 4 stands out among RTS games with its cute and aesthetically pleasing plant critter soldiers. The addition of Oatchi, a versatile dog-like character who can carry players and Pikmin, eliminates the need for micromanagement and adds new puzzle-solving opportunities. Pikmin 4 offers stunning and photorealistic environments for exploration, giving players a visual treat that surpasses the range of environments found in most RTS games.
RTS games have had a weird history on consoles. Companies have tried many times to make them work on systems like the PS1. Some of the WarCraft and Command and Conquer games made it to that console with mixed results. The modern consoles struggle too even though things have gotten better between console and PC integration.
There is one company that figured out how to make an RTS work on a console with relative ease. Nintendo made an achievement on the GameCube in 2001 with the release of Pikmin. Over two decades later, the series is still making a splash with the latest release of Pikmin 4. Some aspects even blow away PC RTS games, so let’s dive in to find out why Pikmin 4 is doing so well.8 Cute Soldiers
Most RTS games feature grizzled soldiers or pawns that are not cute aesthetically. That’s the complete opposite of the Pikmin franchise because the plant critters are all adorable. From the basic Red Pikmin to the bulbous Rock Pikmin, the Pikmin designs look great in Pikmin 4.
They’re the type of “soldiers” that players are going to feel bad about losing. Their power variety is also interesting like the Ice Pikmin’s ability to freeze water or opponents.7 A Close Partner Via Oatchi
New to Pikmin 4 is Oatchi, who is a dog but also a Pikmin technically. The great thing about Oatchi is that it can carry the player and all of the Pikmin as well. It eliminates the idea of having to micromanage an enemy while avoiding enemies as well.
Players can also go on separate excursions with Oatchi to help solve puzzles like going into a separate drain pipe to flip a switch and lower bars. Controlling Oatchi may not be as impactful as driving a tank or some other armored vehicle in an RTS game, but the versatility of Oatchi more than makes up for that.6 Exploring Rich Environments
A lot of RTS games have exploration because the map is darkened out. Classic examples would include Command and Conquer or WarCraft. Most RTS games are played from a top-down perspective, so players cannot enjoy these exploration missions.
Even modern RTS games that play from 3D perspectives don’t have as beautiful a range of environments as Pikmin 4. The biomes of the game range from sunny beaches to messy homes. There is a sense of photorealism amidst the wild creations of the Pikmin.5 The Combat
There is nothing super special about the combat and that’s okay. There isn’t a huge emphasis on combat which is different from most RTS games. Monsters are everywhere in these biomes but once the big ones are defeated, they stay down.
Also, players don’t have to worry about building up an army to defend a base from invading creatures, so it is less stress-inducing. There is an exception to this in Pikmin 4 via nighttime missions with Glow Pikmin. These segments are the most RTS-like thing about the game but they are a very small part of the experience.
This game has more RPG elements than previous games to help players have a better sense of progression. Players can collect materials that are used for making structures in the environment as well as building gadgets.
Russ, the gadget maker, can create gear in Pikmin 4 that can boost stats like health or provide great mechanics like a radar to call Pikmin back from the base. All of these upgrades are permanent for the player and for Oatchi. Players won’t have to worry about losing progress via downed units like in other RTS games.3 Difficulty Ramps Up Gradually
There are no difficulty modes in the game but that is okay. There are a lot of factors that can help players ease their way into the experience. Oatchi is a big help along with the aforementioned upgrade system.
The further players make it into the game, the harder things will become. In a lot of RTS games from classics like StarCraft to more modern examples like Halo Wars, the difficulty seems to spike after a few missions. It can be hard to get into the genre without a lot of practice.2 Boss Battles
The one aspect of the combat that does get tricky is the boss battles. This is where players have to put all of their skills to the test, making Pikmin 4 feel more like an action game in The Legend of Zelda series.
Not many RTS games have elaborate boss battles like this, which is a Nintendo special. One example includes pulling a tail on an amoeba-like creature to separate its body from its gooey protective barrier. Another example includes throwing a water creature off of its rock car to beat it up.1 No Need To Worry About About Building
Micromanaging is a huge part of RTS games and strategy games as a whole. It can be incredibly rewarding to build armies and structures to then see that progress destroy enemies in a level. It can be stressful too and that’s the opposite goal of Pikmin 4.
Players don’t have to worry about building things to then see those structures destroyed as they are all permanent. Bases cannot be destroyed either, except in the nighttime expectations, which again, are a small portion of the experience and operate more like mini-games.
Pikmin 4 was released on July 21, 2023, and is available on Switch.