How Pikmin 4's Simple Story Defines the Game's Character

Highlights Pikmin 4 focuses on fun gameplay rather than complex storytelling, setting it apart from other games like The Last of Us. The simple story structure of the Pikmin series adds to its charm and lets players enjoy a satisfying gameplay loop. The franchise’s focus on gameplay and simplicity has helped it become a household name, and Pikmin 4 continues that tradition with its beautifully realized world and fun puzzles.

While games like The Last of Us try to blow players away with their fantastic stories, Nintendo’s own Pikmin 4 has little interest in its storytelling. The studio is not trying to make players feel something complicated; it is simply letting them have fun. The focus is on the unique fast-paced gameplay, and that helps make Pikmin 4 stand apart from the crowd.

Even though the Pikmin series has never concerned itself with deep storytelling, that does not lessen its quality at all. Just like with a lot of Nintendo games, part of its charm is in that simple adventure. It helps give the franchise its personality, lets players enjoy a satisfying gameplay loop, and lets the studio run wild with the concept. There is no need for a Last of Us story when the gameplay loop is so satisfying, and Pikmin 4 is a clear example of that.

Pikmin 4 Shines in Its Simplicity A screenshot from Pikmin 4 showcasing the player and their pikmin encountering a red bulborb.

Ever since the very first Pikmin game, the series has followed a very simple story structure. The first game saw Captain Olimar crash-land on a mysterious planet filled with Pikmin and the player had to spend the entire game trying to repair his ship so that he could leave. It was not trying to tell a particularly deep story. The gameplay was where the game truly shined, and the simple story worked to prop that part of the game up.

Pikmin 2 delved a bit further into the lore of the universe, but it also went for a fairly simple storyline. Players had to spend the entire game back on the same mysterious planet collecting treasures to pay off Hocotate Freight’s debt. Pikmin 3 then returned to the simple crash-landing story model with a brand-new cast of characters, and Pikmin 4 has now continued that trend with another simple story about a charismatic cast of characters trying to repair their ship after it crash-landed.

While the Pikmin series may need to shake up the crash-landed story a bit, the simple stories have helped give this franchise its charm. Instead of focusing on crafting an award-winning story, the studio has spent more time refining the fast-paced RTS gameplay the series is known for. Almost everything about the gameplay is fun, and each entry has made that core gameplay loop even stronger. Pikmin 4 may have the most satisfying gameplay loop to date, and the franchise will likely only get stronger from here.

Throwing players on a mysterious planet and giving them a group of Pikmin to control is really all that the game needs. Pikmin 4’s world is beautifully realized, its gameplay is extremely satisfying, and its puzzles are as fun as ever. Nintendo has even tossed in a few new additions that have made the franchise even better. Players do not even really need to pay attention to the story to enjoy the series, but it does help provide some context for what is happening on screen. That context will only make players love this unique franchise even more, and the gameplay will keep them coming back for more.

Few Nintendo franchises sell themselves on fantastically written stories; most emphasize their charm and gameplay. Pikmin 4 is no different as it presents players with easy to pick up gameplay that feels fantastic to play. While a stronger story may help these games shine brighter, there really is no need for anything more complex. The simplicity of this franchise gives Pikmin 4 its personality and charm, and that may be all it needs to become a household name.

Pikmin 4 is available now on Switch.

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