There's no question that taking a three-dimensional title and transforming it into a 2D side-scroller is a risky venture, especially when the original property is as realtime strategy-driven as Pikmin. Taking that into consideration, it's not much of a leap to suggest that such a premise was met with immediate skepticism by fans, but Hey! Pikmin manages to stand on its own as an enjoyable iteration that provides its own unique spin on the 2D genre – albeit it a little simple in its overall design.
Once again throwing the titular Captain Olimar into the starring role, Hey! Pikmin still banks on gathering hordes of adorable little plant-like creatures known as Pikmin in order to accomplish various tasks across each level. Much of the basic ideas established in the original trilogy have carried over here, with differently colored Pikmin each having their own abilities. For example, red ones are immune to fire, while blue are capable of treading water. Meanwhile, yellow can survive electricity and be thrown further. Finally, rock Pikmin can smash glass and crystals, and pink ones are capable of flight.
It's important to note all of these abilities when playing through the game as they will help make the process a lot easier, but there isn't as much in the way of selecting a balanced army this time around. Each level simply supplies players with Pikmin they find, which makes the process a much easier venture than previous games under the same banner. As a result, each side-scrolling level plays out like a rescue mission, with Pikmin that have been saved returning to a place called Pikmin Park.
The latter area is a more hands-off zone, where Olimar is able to assign his assortment of sidekicks to various tasks that will eventually provide the Captain with treasure. Giving search-and-recovery missions to the creatures outside of each level is an interesting premise that adds a micromanagement aspect to the strategy, but it's not nearly as engaging as it could be given how simple the execution of it truly is. Where there was ample room for developer Arzest to flesh it out with various casualty-based, high-risk scenarios, the end result is a little too vanilla in Hey! Pikmin to be as appealing as it could have been.
Despite this, the level design is made interesting thanks to the dual screen approach to each and every environment. The bulk of the action takes place on the lower screen, as users tap on the touchscreen in order to whip Pikmin onto carnivorous enemies or hurl them towards treasure. There's a clever dynamic at play that really only works on the console there, and it plays well into the puzzle aspect of the platforming.
With that said, those looking for a clever platformer will be underwhelmed with what they find here. Nothing present is all that challenging and requires little more than a passing thought in order to understand and overcome, which makes the game feel relatively short overall. Truth be told, however, this means that venture that's present doesn't linger too long, ending at the right time before trekking through levels and besting bosses becomes too tedious.
The allure of Hey! Pikmin doesn't come in the comparisons to its predecessors, as it's a game that manages to stand on its own. It's noteworthy in that it is something unique – albeit a little simple in its execution – that's clearly catered to a more casual audience, but that doesn't mean there isn't joy to be found during this romp. It may not be a true portable Pikmin game, but it's a fun and charming little platformer that lasts just as long as it needs to without feeling too repetitive.
Hey! Pikmin is currently available for Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 2DS consoles.