Pikmin games ranked from Worst to Best

If I’m being honest this in an article that comes entirely out of left field just due to lovin these little Pikmin and their main games. I had an urge to replay the series and figured, hey why not rank them all? Pikmin is Nintendo’s take on the Real Time Strategy genre and fairly unique amongst its competition. I love all three games, (though unfortunately I haven’t gotten to play the Switch port of 3 yet) so here’s my personal Pikmin games ranked from worst to best!

Number 3: Pikmin 3

Pikmin 3 Boxart
Credit: Nintendo

Unfortunately, I have to give the last place spot to the most modern entry in the Pikmin franchise, Pikmin 3. I should elaborate that I still love this game a ton; all three Pikmin games are pretty dear to me, but I find some aspects bout 3… lacking.

Starting off with what I like, Pikmin 3 looks absolutely gorgeous even on the Wii U, and the level design is probably the best in the series. The new Pikmin, while Rock may be a little underwhelming, are pretty alright. Flying Pikmin can break some of the more frustrating puzzles as well and were an interesting direction to take future Pikmin types.

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However, I think Pikmin 3 tries to grab the appeal of both 1 and 2 but fails in trying to do both simultaneously. Pikmin 1 had a fantastic air of mystery and tension through the whole game, and Pikmin 2 focused more on exploration and combat for completionists, removing the tension. Pikmin 3 tries to be tense through the fruit system, counting down the days until one eventually loses, but the sheer amount of fruit can leave even a first time player with a 15-20 day buffer. It gets to the point where the tension is completely gone.

Aside from that, it’s kinda hard to elaborate what left me feeling whelmed about Pikmin 3. Part of it may have been the new protagonists, who aren’t as interesting as Olimar or The President from Pikmins 1 and 2. The latter felt like they oozed personality while these three never really gripped me.

Pikmin 3 certainly isn’t a bad game by any means, but it ranks the lowest for me personally.

Number 2: Pikmin

Pikmin 1 boxart
Credit: Nintendo

If, in a perfect world, I could remove my biases, Pikmin 1 would likely top out the Pikmin games ranked list. It has so much going for it.

The atmosphere is incredible with all tutorials and narration being from Olimar’s perspective, as if jotting notes in a nature documentary. All the areas have an air of mystique, and the knowledge right away that you only have 30 days immediately ramps up the tension to scramble around and find the ship parts as quick as possible. Granted, even in a blind playthrough one is likely to reach the final area before the halfway mark, compounded with the mystery the game has about it, the tension never fully goes away.

The areas are all very distinct with few reused enemies and fun challenges that utilize all the Pikmin types. Particular props go to The Forest Navel for having so many objectives at once that all feel equally worth tackling and require great use of your resources. In general the game balances the urgency of defeating enemies, growing your troops, making navigation quicker, and finding ship parts quite well, and makes every day feel shorter than the allotted 13 minutes.

The only real downside to Pikmin 1 is that the combat is comparatively lacking. Most enemies simply die to rushing them from behind, and the bosses generally are underwhelming besides a single gimmick.

Number 1: Pikmin 2

Pikmin 2 Boxart
Credit: Nintendo

Pikmin 2 is an interesting game from my experience. It either ends up as people’s favorite or least favorite game with no real middleground. This is likely due to aspects such as the caves, reduction of tension, and focus on combat. Personally? It’s still my favorite game in the series by a good bit.

As much as I may agree caves take up too much time in the scope of the game, the focus on combat with surprisingly good and varied enemy design makes me forgive the caves. The core gameplay, to me, makes up for it in dividends with the introduction of Purple and White Pikmin, as well as layouts which make all Pikmin types viable and useful.

The reduction of a timer may reduce tension, but I enjoy the freedom it provides to Pikmin 2. I love the exploration aspect of areas like The Perplexing Pool and Wistful Wild. Not having to worry about a deadline allows me to fully take in these areas at a more relaxed pace and enjoy the craftsmanship of the areas. Being able to spend a whole day farming berries and Pikmin or clearing out enemies before going into the treasure collecting is an option I quite like.

The caves themselves, while procedurally generated, all have some level of similarity in the hazards used and designs of the dungeons. Enough of them are fun and interesting enough for me to call them a net positive, such as caves like The Submerged Castle and Dream Den.

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That, for me, would be the Pikmin games ranked from worst to best! This list obviously isn’t objective by any means and I love all these little lads a ton, but one game had to take the top. And my obsession with video essays in the past week wouldn’t let me shut up about it so it became your problem as well lovely reader.

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