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How Pikmin Bloomed Back into Relevancy

The harrowing tale of how the cult Nintendo franchise, Pikmin, became a mainstream success.

Pikmin: From cult classic to mainstream appeal; How did the darling Nintendo franchise hit it big?

What is Pikmin?

For those unaware, which is no doubt quite a few, Pikmin is the criminally underappreciated game series by Nintendo. It originated on the Gamecube back in 2001, with a sequel three years later in 2004. Pikmin is a cozy, yet intense strategy game where the player has hundreds of little creatures called Pikmin under their command. The player uses these Pikmin to complete tasks and fend off enemies. The games are adored for their slight challenge and cute and comfy atmosphere. Pikmin 1 was well received, though its home console held it back from selling well.

A player using Pikmin to fend of an aggressive Bulborb.
Image Credit: Nintendo

Small world, Smaller Sales.

The Nintendo Gamecube was not a very popular console in its prime. While well-liked today, at the time, the Gamecube was an unpopular option, especially when it was competing with the original Xbox and the Playstation 2. As such, many games on the Gamecube, while reviewed well, did not sell much due to the overall player base of the console being smaller. Pikmin 1 only sold 1.6 million copies. To compare, Luigi’s Mansion, a Mario Spin-off on the GameCube sold 3.3 Million copies in its lifetime. Pikmin 2, while also reviewing positively sold only 1.2 million copies. For a time, that was it. Save for the ports of Pikmin 1 and 2 to the Wii and the inclusion of series protagonist Captain Olimar in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, that was all the series was for the 2000s. That is until 2013 when the next installment in the series was released.

A Grand Return?

On July 13th, 2013, Pikmin 3 was released for the Wii U. Pikmin 3 was received extraordinarily well and sold 1.2 million copies, making it the second best-selling game in the series at that point. However, Pikmin was yet again handicapped by the system it was released on. Like the Gamecube, the Wii U, while having its share of stellar titles, was not a popular console at the time and even now. The Wii U was Nintendo’s second worst-selling console to date, only beaten by the Virtual Boy. Just as before, Pikmin was stuck with a great game on an underperforming console. However, things were looking up for the Pikmin franchise. In 2015 series creator Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed in an interview that Pikmin 4 was nearing completion. Surely the sequel was right around the corner, right?

Radio Silence.

But, for the longest time, Pikmin 4 never came. Nor was anything heard about it after that interview. A new game was released, however. Hey! Pikmin was released on the Nintendo 3DS in July of 2017, four entire months after the release of the Nintendo Switch. During 2017, the 3DS was on its last legs, as the switch took over as Nintendo’s newest handheld. As such, games released for it after the switches launch sold awfully. Hey! Pikmin had the lowest sales out of any game in the franchise, only selling 0.44 millions copies worldwide. Just like before, that was it. Olimar and protagonist of Pikmin 3, Alph, appeared in Smash Bros for Wii U and 3Ds and returned in Smash Ultimate, but that was all the attention that Pikmin was receiving at the time. Had pikmin 4 been cancelled? Was it over for the beloved series?

Olimar and his Pikmin being attacked by a bulborb
Image Credit: Nintendo

The Switch to the Switch

No, it was not! In August 2020, it was announced that Pikmin 3 would be ported over to the Switch. This did not come as a surprise to many, as the early years of the Switch saw many Wii U games ported to the system. Fans looked at this port with great anticipation. Many hoped this port would allow the series to garner the sales they thought it deserved. On October 20th, 2020, Pikmin 3 Deluxe was released on the Nintendo Switch. And it was a massive success. Pikmin 3 Deluxe sold an astonishing 2.23 million copies, making it the highest-selling game in the series. Pikmin fans had received what they were hoping for. The series was finally a financial success. Not only did the fans of the series notice, Nintendo noticed.

Blossoming Success.

Following the success of Pikmin 3 Deluxe, the mobile app Pikmin Bloom was released in 2021. The app, akin to Pokemon Go, allows users to collect Pikmin while walking around in real life, and lets them send their little friends on missions. While not as in-depth as Pokemon Go, the app was received very well, having 3 million downloads as of the writing of this article. With Pikmine 3 Deluxe and Pikmin Bloom doing so well, the plans for Pikmin 4 were seemingly back in motion. As on September 13th of 2022, Pikmin 4 was officially announced in a Nintendo Direct. The reaction was immense. After supposedly being nearly complete since 2015, the fabled Pikmin 4 was finally more than just a pipe dream for so many.

A Fruitful Future.

Pikmin 4 is set to release very soon, on July 21st. A demo was released earlier in July, which received high praise. The demo offered a heaping two-hour sampling of the opening of the game. It showed off many new features such as the new companion, Oatchi. Oatchi is with the player from the very start and proves to be an invaluable asset in exploration.

Oatchi assisting the player and her Pikmin
Image Credit: Nintendo

The demo also included the underground caves. Caves were a mechanic in Pikmin 2 that were both loved for their uniqueness and loather for their difficulty. The Caves were omitted from Pikmin 3 and their return in 4 is heavily anticipated. Many details were revealed in a recent Nintendo Direct. They revealed a new type of Pikmin, Glow Pikmin which are available during a new section of Gameplay. Pikmin 4 includes a first for the series, Nighttime Exploration, where Glow Pikmin are found. In that Nintendo Direct, there was another big announcement for PIkmin Fans

Just, One More Thing. Or Two!

The other Pikmin-related announcements were ports of Pikmin 1 and 2 for the Nintendo Switch. The ports were available for download that very day. This means that, upon Pikmin 4’s release, every game in the series, save for the 3DS Spinoff, will be available on the Switch. It appears Pikmin has finally found a console it can call home.

JD In a Dig Dug Shirt with a Mothman Pin doing a thumbs Up
Written By

I am a graduate of University of North Carolina Greensboro. I am quite proud of my fiction and poetry, and I have been published several times.

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