If you need to feel a sense of control in the year of our lord 2020, then taking charge of around a hundred adorable Pikmin should do it. Pikmin 3 Deluxe is a practically perfect port of the Wii U game - faithful enough for the diehard fans, with some gentle adjustments for the next-generation Nintendo Switch.
The core gameplay remains much the same as previous entries in the Pikmin series, traveling the planet PNF-404 collecting Pikmin - each color with a different set of talents - and organizing them to build bridges, break down barriers, take on foes as a team, and collect delicious fruits. You've got your red Pikmin that are good fighters and often end up as cannon fodder. Yellow can conduct electricity and are good diggers, while blue can head into the water without fear. Other ant-sized slaves are the absolute unit grey Pikmin who are good at breaking things and the utterly perfect pink Pikmin, who can fly.
Release date: October 30, 2020
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer: Monolith Soft
To help manage your crew of tiny minions, there are three members of the space crew - Alph, Charlie and Brittany - who can split off to take on different tasks with different groups of Pikmin. You'll still have to direct them, so multitasking is basically a survival skill on PNF-404, but the biggest plus is being able to try and solve a problem from different angles without dragging your whole squad of Pikmin to different locations. Some puzzles also require more than one Pikmin squad leader, and usually start with you flinging a friend across a treacherous gap.
But while the world is full of perils for your Pikmin, the game seems like it wants to make life easier, with hints constantly on hand and new additions like lock-on targeting, which is a timesaver whether you're trying to grab a little token from a flower or flinging your Pikmin at flying prey. It's not always entirely reliable though and tends to fail at the most crucial moments, like when you're fighting a giant worm that burrows underground, sucking your tiny wards into sandpits, before bursting upwards and firing boulders - yes I am still salty about that particular boss battle - but saves a lot of time when you're collecting fruit or fighting smaller enemies.
Underneath the cute, the brutality of death that makes the series so much more than a jaunty funfest remains the same, with Pikmin left out of the safety of the ship at sundown dying - adorably - and plenty more going up in flames, drowning, or being squished. You'll hear their wails and see their little Pikmin ghosts. Unless you have a heart of stone it's this, rather than the main storyline's goals or requirements, that will make you want to be the best Pikmin leader you can be. Personally, I'd rather not be haunted by the ghosts of a thousand ant-sized creatures until my dying day. The boss battles - each demanding a different approach, using exploding rocks or your yellow Pikmin to weaken them with light - can be made even tougher by this time limit, leaving you battling the setting sun and a giant beast with only a tiny chance of victory.
And speaking of tiny, the world is a delight of proportions, with Pikmin groaning under the weight of avocados, using lilypads to traverse streams and sipping from drops of nectar, and pops even on the Switch Lite screen. The Pikmin are still undeniably iconic, and the enemies - weird frogs and fiery beetles - are a cross between Jim Henson and Adventure Time. Even the final stage of the game which takes place in an oak, which you'll either love or hate, still looks amazing even as the cries of dying Pikmin batter your ears.
Honestly, the Deluxe part of the experience, like DLC and extra missions are all just the icing piped carefully around the main gameplay cake and will be of interest only to the hardcore who need an excuse to purchase Pikmin 3 for a second time. Not that you need one, the game is still a classic and its Honey I Shrunk The Kids miniature world and gameplay translates perfectly to Switch. It's been seven years since Pikmin 3 arrived on the Wii U, and with its tweaks and extra goodies it absolutely deserves another chance in the sun.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch Lite.