Design Doc - Pikmin 4
Pikmin has received quite a bit of acclaim over the years since the franchise debuted in 2001. Despite that, the franchise has to date seen just three core, numbered franchise entries, and a 3DS spin-off in the form of Hey Pikmin! The last time a Pikmin game was released was in October 2020 which was a remaster of 2013’s Pikmin 3, now available on Nintendo Switch. It should also be noted that a presently unnamed Pikmin mobile title, developed by Pokemon GO developer Niantic is also deep in development with a playable prototype available around the world including here in Australia. All of that said, it has been nearly a decade since a core entry in the franchise released, and with Nintendo mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto having declared it’s development was “very close to completion” in 2015, and then “progressing” at E3 2017, it’s reasonable to assume that the game has gotten a little lost in development. This is where “Design Doc” comes in: These are my ideas for how to make Pikmin 4 a winner.
What is it that keeps the Pikmin franchise ticking? It’s simple, it’s the day/night cycle, what you do with those daylight hours, and the increasing roster of gorgeous, unique Pikmin with their myriad of abilities. It’s those two key pillars that are the focus of this pitch.
For years the Pikmin cycle has been a simple one. Daylight hours are for resource collection and narrative progression, and you need to escape back to your spaceship before the clock expires and your Pikmin are swallowed up by the dangers of the night. One of the main player concerns over the years has been around this component, specifically the countdown clock. My solution: Introducing Light Pikmin. The franchise has been adding a number of new critters in recent entries, Rock Pikmin and Flying Pikmin being those introduced in Pikmin 3, but the introduction of a Light Pikmin (imagine a globe dangling from the tops of their heads) opens up the possibility of doing away with the countdown clock and giving players the scope to use those previous nighttime hours.
Nintendo can still lean into the lore that they’ve developed so far, the threats of the world are more plentiful, and lethal during the night, but the implementation of a Light Pikmin, and the opening up of the moonlit hours, can add a risk/reward component for players. Do you push on into the evening in the hopes of bringing back those last few things you couldn’t get to during the day? Maybe some options open up in the nighttime as well, tempting you to explore further? But maybe you’ll be punished for pushing the boundaries too far, encountering monsters well beyond your means of countering that you can only flee from, while biting off too much in these scenarios leads to your legion of Pikmin being completely devastated.
What Need Does It Serve?
The fans are looking for more diversity to the Pikmin experience. Pikmin 3, for as brilliant as it was, and was personally my number 1 game on the Wii U, still felt a great deal like its predecessors. While my proposed Pikmin 4 wouldn’t be a total revision of the franchise, it would evolve it in ways that build upon the basics of the franchise, ensuring that it is both familiar, but also a breath of fresh air for the IP.
We’ve seen day/night cycles where the nighttime threats are more significant, Dying Light was one particularly superb example of this. Now while my suggestion isn’t designed to create levels of horror that Dying Light does by night, the inclusion of this aspect should trigger a strategic rethink from the player. What Pikmin do I bring with me? Am I trying to go loud by bringing a whole army with me, or do I bring 1-2 light Pikmin, keep a small group, and try to go largely unnoticed? All of these options, as well as a bunch more, are on the table by utilising the full day/night cycle.
Sealing The Deal:
Open-world games certainly existed in 2014 when Pikmin 3 first launched, headed by the likes of Grand Theft Auto V, but it’s because of GTA V that their impact exploded even further. Pikmin 4, wherever you may be, you do not need to embrace this wholly, but leaning in that direction would be nice. Presently we need to jump between different parts of the world via the Onion – that’s something that can change with Pikmin 4. Of course the world doesn’t need to be massive, and nor should it, but the currently disconnected biomes could be brought together such that they provide a seamless environment, and one that then supports exploring within the aforementioned day/night cycles.
So that’s what I’m pitching you, the audience as a potential Pikmin 4. What do you like? What needs refining, and would you snap this up if it were available to you? We want to hear your thoughts, so be sure to hit us up via social media!