(Pocket-lint) - When Pikmin 3 was released back in 2013, it proved to be a sad case of right game, wrong console. That's because it came out for Nintendo's unloved and thoroughly unsuccessful Wii U – so despite the plaudits heaped on it by reviewers, hardly anyone actually played it.
Now that Nintendo has plastered over the misstep that was the Wii U via the brilliant, hugely successful Switch, it has given Pikmin 3 a belated chance of garnering the spellbound audience it deserves, in the form of Pikmin 3 Deluxe.
The Deluxe version adds a prologue and epilogue to the original game, the chance for two people to play it co-operatively, and all the downloadable content that supported the original game.
It's always nice to feel that a remake of a game is giving you extra value for money but, in truth, the Deluxe element of Pikmin 3 Deluxe is far from its most impressive aspect. Welcome though the extra Challenges and Side Stories are, Pikmin 3 Deluxe is all about the main story – which proves to be so irresistible that it positively drips with replayability.
As ever in a Pikmin game, Pikmin 3 Deluxe involves a bunch of cute aliens landing on a planet and discovering various types of Pikmin, plant-like creatures with distinctive abilities, which can be marshalled and controlled like a super-cute mini-army.
Conceived by Nintendo's resident genius, Shigeru Miyamoto, the Pikmin franchise was reputedly inspired by his garden, and by the time Miyamoto sat down to make Pikmin 3, it felt as though he had definitively worked out where that franchise's appeal truly lay.
Thus – to an extent unlike its predecessors – Pikmin 3 Deluxe has a sense of narrative thrust and coherence. It opens with three astronauts from the famine-struck planet Koppai exploring planets in search of fruit and vegetables to grow on their home planet. But they crash on the uncharted planet PNF-404, and are split up.
Build your cute army
So, as you learn how best to use the attributes of the different Pikmin on PNF-404 – basic red Pikmin are great at fighting and digging; black rock Pikmin can shatter glass; blue ones can operate happily under water; electrically-charged yellow ones can complete circuits, tear down electric fences and turn on lights that keep predators at bay – you must also work out how to find your ship and your companions.
Which involves growing your army of Pikmin – get them to pick the little coloured pucks that grow on plants and take them back to the Onion in which they live, and new ones will be planted that you can then pluck.
From the off, Pikmin 3 Deluxe's level design is absolutely sublime: you must work hard to open up new areas and get to the fruit and vegetables, which can be juiced to provide the sustenance you and your fellow astronauts need.
As you work your way through the levels, you'll discover key story-advancing objects, often in the bellies of bosses that you must first dispatch.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe's boss-battles are surprisingly tactical, multi-stage affairs, and often require some preparation in terms of making sure you have grown enough of the right types of Pikmin. The anguish you suffer when you get something wrong in a boss-battle and half your Pikmin are wiped out is indescribable.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is one of those games designed to be dipped into, rather than played in one long chunk – it's divided into days (you must be careful to call your Pikmin back to their Onion before night falls), each of which is accelerated so it lasts just 10 minutes in the real world.
That time-pressure adds a certain amount of urgency, but compared to the first two Pikmin games, Pikmin 3 is much more generous with the amount of fruit it contains, so you can take your time a bit, build up a stockpile of juice, and generate a formidable army of Pikmin. Which, especially, will be required for the fiendish final boss-battle.
But you will also find that dipping into and out of Pikmin 3 Deluxe swiftly ceases to become an option, since the game is so infernally addictive. It's astonishing how attached you become to your Pikmin, and its overall cute, eco-friendly vibe is endlessly appealing, even though it is undercut by a tangible air of menace provided by the various wacky predators you encounter.
As you acquire all the different types of Pikmin, it pays to return to previous levels, each of which has areas you will previously have been unable to access, and the first time you finish the game, the temptation to go back to the beginning armed with an intimate knowledge of the levels and see how few days you can take to complete it proves impossible to ignore.
Beyond the main game, you also get a Side Story in which the returning Captain Olimar – Pikmin protagonist of yore – must collect as much treasure and fruit as possible, and a decently sized roster of medal-awarding Challenges. Whether that's enough to justify the Deluxe tag, along with graphics that have been mildly improved for the Switch (although they hardly come across as cutting-edge), is a moot point.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe takes all the charm, cuteness and requirements to think tactically and puzzle-solve that the first two Pikmin games showed, and adds a structured framework to those irresistible attributes. If the original game hadn't come out for such a dog of a console, it would surely have been showered with awards, as it really nails the essence of what makes the very best Nintendo games so seductive.
It would be a stretch to describe Nintendo's reworking of Pikmin 3 for the Switch as lazy, but those who played the original will be slightly disappointed that it doesn't add a bit more. However, so few people played the original that that shouldn't be a major issue. If you didn't play the original game, Pikmin 3 Deluxe will blow you away – as far as Switch games go, it's yet another essential purchase.