It’s been pleasing for 3DS owners to see that, while a shiny alternative is on the market, the successful family of portables continues to have an important role in Nintendo’s plans. With titles like Metroid: Samus Returns and of course Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon on the way, the era of dual screens and some stereoscopic 3D isn’t over yet – the New 2DS XL ignores the latter, of course.

So where does Hey! Pikmin fit in? Is it a key release and a worthy continuation of a loved series, or a throwaway spin-off? Perhaps it’s not quite in either camp – we’ve been playing the final build for a while and, though it’s not quite review time yet, we are allowed to share some thoughts based on more than the brief demo showcased earlier in the year.

As for the series itself, it’s an interesting case study of how Nintendo manages some IPs. Created by and a passion project of Shigeru Miyamoto, we had two GameCube titles before the series went on a hiatus, only getting re-releases on Wii to utilise the Remote. After rumours that the then-new 3DS would get an entry, we instead eventually got the rather marvellous Pikmin 3 on Wii U, which also showed what Nintendo could do once it had figured out HD development. Lovely and charming, it was also relatively challenging (in this writer’s opinion, at least), with multiple areas that felt sizeable and interesting to explore.

Hey! Pikmin is a spin-off, of course, a 2D title developed by Arzest – a company that previous worked on titles like Wii Play and Yoshi’s New Island. We’ve seen a few franchises given the 2D treatment on 3DS, but after carefully directing and managing the Pikmin brand in the ‘main’ games this is certainly a diversion. Rather than carefully herding up to 100 little creatures you now have up to about 20 following behind you, depending on how many you find in each individual stage. Different Pikmin still have specific strengths, but they’re a little less prevalent than before. Ultimately you use Pikmin for three things – as projectiles to attack enemies, to fetch objects out of reach, or to act as weights to trigger platforms. We’ve been playing for quite a few hours and, so far, that’s the extent of their functionality; that said, we expect a few more tricks with the likes of flying Pikmin later in the game.

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