39 Reviews liked by Skikkiks

Louie: History's Greatest Monster?
It's not a unique story to say that I've been excitedly waiting for Pikmin 4 for years and years, ever since that weird Miyamoto story where he once again said "it's basically finished and ready to release" just the same way he did with Pikmin 3. That's the story of half of Pikmin's releases, Miyamoto says it's on the way and then you don't see it for ten years. I'm thrilled the series is still going and still getting high quality entries, and I did love Pikmin 4, but it's also easily my least favorite of the series so far. Before even getting into anything mechanical, I'm so bummed by the fact that it's a weird reboot. There's a lot of weirdness in the decisions of Pikmin 4 that make it feel like it isn't designed for longtime fans, and that story decision more than anything is the biggest sign to me. We've had a pretty progressive narrative build-up across the past three entries and left Pikmin 3 on an interesting cliffhanger with exciting world-building implications - which we even make hints towards here! - but ultimately none of the prior stuff is remotely compatible with this game's plot. Scrap it and move on, we're seeking a new audience. Maybe we'll see it someday, but if Pikmin 5 is anything like the previous two entries we'll hear about it within the next year and not see it for at least a full decade. That it's interested in expanding the audience is not a dealbreaker, nor is it even bad, but it's disappointing when that focus is also the source of quite a few decisions that I feel hurt the game.
There's a lot about Pikmin 4 that tries to focus on making the game easier, and ultimately I do feel it's overall the easiest in the series. Oatchi in particular is so insanely useful that he can often entirely trivialize huge parts of the game on his own. That said, it's worth mentioning that the cave you unlock for beating Olimar's story has some of the toughest challenges in the series, particularly the Purple Key level which has an extremely tight time constraint that manages to be even more threatening than the two rolling walls of death you encounter. There are a few other standouts, like the Sovereign Bulblax in Cavern for a King and the multiple required encounters with the surprisingly returning Smokey Progg, but outside of those few outliers the rest of the game is easy to breeze through. It doesn't help when areas get entirely emptied of things to do as you progress, leaving them as empty wastelands with no remaining dangers to navigate. That's not necessarily a bad thing, the whole ethos of Dandori is more centered on the game being about how quickly and efficiently you can succeed and I think that shines well with how they've designed the levels here, but that's also not necessarily a new thing. It has always been Pikmin's ethos (we just have a catchy word for it now) and after a few days enemies would respawn to both incentivize getting things done efficiently in an area and to keep the world feeling alive. In a lot of regards their Leafling-like focus on Dandori is a success, and with some difficult challenges it shows they can still throw you for a loop when they want to. The problem I have is more that they tend to reuse the same ideas multiple times, where something like an Emperor Bulblax in the past was an imposing and unique final boss it's now... pretty common, showing up repeatedly and making the Sovereign Bulblax feel like "oh, you again" even with it being a harder version more akin to Pikmin 1's original Emperor. There really aren't very many unique or memorable one-off boss moments or surprises, and that's a shame because all the previous games in the series really shined with their unique one-offs that made you really think and try to utilize your skillset on the fly. Again, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it helps make certain aspects feel undercooked and repetitive rather than engaging and exciting, just going through the motions.
Where the clear focus on largely making things easier hurts, I feel, is in some of the mechanical decisions that they made that have the opposite effect. The lock-on is awful and makes targeting things extremely difficult, with no ability to use free aiming. Just killed an enemy in a mob of enemies? Sorry dude, you don't want to target that other enemy, you want the raw materials it dropped - oh, you lost a bunch of Pikmin because you couldn't throw them where you actually wanted? Oops. Similarly, they make it so that you need to whistle twice for Pikmin to abandon a task, which isn't a terrible idea... but if it was a mistake they entirely lose all momentum, and if it was intentional they have a very noticeable delay before finally listening if you're lucky enough for them to actually decide to. I've never had so much trouble getting my Pikmin to listen to me, whether they keep trying to carry something away when I don't want them to or whether they simply won't get thrown or charge, there were tons of times where there is intentionally developed input delay that hurts the experience. In some ways having Pikmin stop being thrown with your inputs when you hit the required amount for an action can be nice, but in many situations I actually WANT to throw more for a more efficient carry or because I want to target something else but the auto-targeting refuses to move. Sometimes I'll throw my guys at an item and they won't even try to pick it up, sometimes they'll just abandon a task for no reason, other times they'll try repeatedly to do a task as I try to stop them and they just decide nah, that wall needs to break and I'm gonna do it, that bomb you threw be damned! God help you if 50 guys decide to attack an enemy without your command, you have to just hope that they'll actually listen and escape from a dangerous situation before disaster as you desperately mash the whistle. Between this and some clunky menuing with the pack, it feels like they've managed to make things feel less intuitive when by all means it should be the opposite. On that note: there is no New Game Plus, so why is it that you can get things like Infinite Rush, Extra Hand, and Olimar's c-stick trumpet feature from 1 and 2 but not until you've 100% completed the game and there is nothing to use them for? Infinite Rush and Extra Hand require saving Louie and doing his optional post-100% completion side quests, respectively... cool that you can get rewards, but you have absolutely nothing to do with them as every area is picked clean and devoid of enemies. What's the point, just easier high scores in Dandori challenges?
My biggest gripe is the regression of the co-op. Pikmin 3 Deluxe's co-op was incredibly good. It is one of the most fun co-op experiences I've ever had, it's wonderful and extremely well implemented. There's absolutely nothing about Pikmin 4 that should prevent it from having a similar implementation - Oatchi can function almost identically to a captain, and on top of that we're playing as a generic create a character so why not allow for a second? Instead, we have Mario Galaxy's co-star mode, which isn't particularly engaging and also kinda breaks the game. It turns co-op from a fun way to engage with the game into something that actively encourages you not to - why go fight that potentially difficult encounter fairly when you can lob rocks at it forever and stun it with electricity? It's not terrible as an extra mode to include someone who isn't familiar with games, but if you have two people who want to play the game together after loving 3 Deluxe together it's a letdown that hurts the game's design to engage with... I do imagine it will lead to some very entertaining speedrun cheats however.
Despite this myriad list of gripes, Pikmin 4 is still an extremely well made game that I'm glad exists. I will replay it multiple times, like I have with all the other Pikmin games. It excels at creating interesting maps to explore, it does an excellent job of making you think about how to plan out your approach to the world, and as with the other Pikmin games the writing is a joy to read. There's more flavor text than ever here, and we have 50+ character voices floating around to make the universe of Pikmin feel livelier than ever before. There's a ton of content here, and most of it is great! I want to point out Night Exploration in particular, which is an amazing addition that I hope to see revisited and iterated on further. There's a ton to build on here, Pikmin could have a very bright and fruitful future! Just next time, have a little bit more trust in your audience and please don't make us wait another decade like we did for both 3 and 4.

Really impressive how Klap Trap did all the koding tbh

A game all about running to the junkyard and winning the slop buckets, you'll find all the shitty knock off flash games you need in this, like Carnival Games but without the meat. And unlike the other much better Barnyard game, no squirting either. I spent the better portion of an hour beating this game all because of Cowtapult and Shufflepuck, the worst experiences I've had in my recent life. The car games are pretty fun, more competent than anything else it provides. Pig getting really emotional and crying on the edge of his seat for me constantly was my one driving motivation for beating this game.
I know no one can be as excited about the Slop Bucket Challenge as I am, but I made a sacrifice for the greater good of our generation, any proof that exists that I am the only person that has beaten this game besides the person beneath me is not true. Kevin James would be so proud of me, I love you so much Kevin Paul Blart was so funny please get back to me soon.

Imagine you're on your death bed and the light is starting to fade, then suddenly from the void you hear, "HERO TIME" and then you have the strength to play a life-saving minigame

A truly Zappy game. Engage nails the Fire Emblem experience by putting me in scenarios that appear to be totally unwinnable until I stuff Yunaka in a bush to make her a god. Peak Fire Emblem is when my best plotted strategies completely fall apart due to bad luck and I'm forced to use obscure loopholes and idiotic bullshit to get myself out of a bind, and Engage gave me that in spades. While the writing is definitely more Saturday morning cartoon than Three Houses' enthralling shades of gray politics, it sold me early on that it knew exactly what it was doing by having the traditional Doomed Fire Emblem Parent ask Sigurd (the protagonist infamously killed in a fire before he can ever be a parent) for parenting advice. That said, my one gripe is that by being a self-referential celebration of the series, the world of Elyos is definitely far less fleshed out and nuanced feeling than most Fire Emblem worlds... but hey, it still manages to be more coherent than Fatesland, so I'll take it.

Good story almost completely ruined by the worst fucking backtracking I’ve ever seen in a video game.There’s absolutely nothing fun about repeatedly being set back and having to play the same story over and over again, going back through the same areas and doing the same things, and fighting the same bosses to actually progress. It’s especially not fun when that’s what most of the game consists of. Like I’ve even seen several diehard fans recommend that players just rush through the repeated routes as fast as they can, not doing any of the optional content and skipping most of the cutscenes and dialogue. That is a sign of a poorly designed game if you ask me.
Speaking of poor design choices, the game is littered with so many of them that somehow manage to needlessly pad out the game even more, several of which made me seriously consider dropping the game entirely. Route C requires you to gather all the weapons in the game (for literally no reason, might I add) in addition to it being almost the exact same story you just saw twice. This includes grinding for money (weapons are not cheap at all) and doing several mundane side quests, some of which require you to farm rare drops from enemies, or reload the same area over and over again until the weather changes. You better hope you get lucky, because there’s a chance that you’ll be killing the same enemies and/or reloading the same area over and over again for hours on end.
Also using a guide on route C is basically required if you want to get through it at a reasonable pace. The game gives you no indication at all on which side quests reward you with weapons, not to mention the side quests themselves have no markers/trackers on your map so you know where to go. Also, there’s a weapon that you need to buy from the Aerie, an area that becomes unaccessible at a later point, so you’re just out of luck if you slip up and happen to forget. And to top that all off, it’s best for you to make a separate save file in addition to the one you already have before the final dungeon to get ending D, and by extension ending E. Because if you don’t, and you save over the one file you’ve been using for most of the game… you have to play through everything, all over again, for the FOURTH TIME. The game does not tell you that, and they didn’t think to add in a chapter select like in Automata.
All of this just so you can continue with the story. I wish I was making this up, I swear.
The little bits of new cutscenes that you do get in between just do not make the rest of the repetition worth it in the slightest imo. Most of route C adds nothing, the beginning of route E adds nothing… I got so used to skipping through the same cutscenes that the game had already shown me a million times that when the time came for actual new cutscenes, I almost skipped those too on accident. And even with the added context of the story bosses, the boss fights themselves get more and more boring with every time you have to fight them again, since you’ll be massively overleveled in comparison and they’ll go down in just a couple of hits.
The game gets two stars because I still like the characters, and that soundtrack is godlike but I absolutely despise the way the story is presented, especially a shame for such a story driven game. It completely broke the immersion for me.

Do you want to play a game where you explore well designed areas densely packed with interesting creatures that interact with their surroundings and require thought as to how you approach and capture them, balanced with a thrilling investigation into the mysteries of the society you suddenly find yourself in? That sounds great, right? Well, I just described Bugsnax, the game that Pokemon Legends Arceus wishes it was, and I recommend that you play it. Arceus isn't a bad game, but I definitely have to count myself baffled by the volume of praise and hype it has received over the past 9 months because I don't think it's particularly good either.
I'm leaving my playthrough of Arceus feeling like I played an early access or rough beta, rather than a polished up and completed retail product. Look, I've played some ugly games and loved them - Fire Emblem Three Houses at times feels like it's missing important sequences (Blue Lions Dedue return for example, no cutscene or build, he's just... suddenly back with no explanation) and its texture work is extremely rough looking, but not only does it make up for that with the quality of the rest of the package I also don't think those failings are anywhere near as major or glaring as equivalent issues in Arceus. Almost every texture in Arceus is extremely ugly - if the world were well designed and interesting it could make up for it, but in practice it's a roughshod paint job on a ramshackle void bereft of anything to see or do in it. It constantly reuses cutscenes (ah yeah lemme watch the Potato Mochi meal cutscene 10 times with identical animations and barely different dialogue each time) or, rather than even pretending to have a cutscene we can just fade to black for 10 seconds while a sound effect plays to avoid even having to try to show something happening. There is nothing appealing in its presentation aside from the Pokemon themselves, and I do think that the new ones are all hits (with the exception of Sneasler, who I loathe). Even the music is iffy, I hate the Jubilife music and the music that plays when you talk to the Professor and they play so frequently that they grate on your ears if they don't land with you. The music for the various regions is actually pretty great... but unfortunately it either decides to simply not play or instead it'll just constantly be interrupted by the lackluster wild encounter theme, so it might as well not even be there.
The battle system doesn't make any sense. Every trainer battle seems to start with the enemy attacking you before you can even see a menu, often with an unexpected super-effective move not in their usual learnset, instantly sucker punching your pokemon as you send it out and often killing it. It's frustrating to not have a chance to react and to immediately lose your lead... but then I have 5 other pokemon and I retaliate by instantly nuking their ONE pokemon and win the battle. The combat forecast for moves often doesn't tell me correct information - the amount of times it showed me moving first or multiple times, or the enemy moving only once, and then suddenly something entirely different happened (in the final trainer battle against that bandit girl, her Gengar moved 5 times? I looked up the datamined stats and it barely had a higher speed stat than my pokemon, launching 5 moves at me absolutely did not track there) is just absurd. It's an unfair system, and yet the battles were so imbalanced and easy that it didn't even matter because I never lost a single trainer battle and nearly every pokemon on either side was dead in one or two hits. All it amounted to was somehow Gamefreak managed to make Pokemon Battles not fun for me, which is bizarre because I enjoyed them even in Pokemon Sword, my least favorite Pokemon game with my least favorite battling gimmick in Dynamax. You can walk around in them for some reason - I don't know what purpose this serves but it's a feature.
The story, and in particular the writing, is bad. I suppose this is to be expected because writing in Pokemon games is far more miss than hit, with really only Gens 5 and 7 being anything worthwhile. But even so, the writing just felt even more insipid and uninspired than it usually does... it's truly disappointing that Pokemon seems to lean into the defense it gets for its writing, "it's for kids" (as if writing for kids cannot be good, or as if kids somehow deserve bad writing). I feel especially shortchanged by the fact that the bulk of the game is helping the various Noble pokemon... and that's it, that's the last you see of them. Wouldn't it make sense for them to show up at the end and do a whole power of friendship thing to support you before you fight Origin Form Dialga/Palkia? That would make sense and show your impact on the world and that what you've been doing has mattered, and it's so obvious... and it does not happen, because the Nobles do not even remotely matter after their respective story quest ends. The only characters I really remember having any investment in are the woman who took care of Growlithe/Arcanine and the Battle Subway guy whose mere presence in this game is completely inexplicable - the rest are either forgettable or downright annoying (Melli, the Braviary girl, and the bandit trio come to mind, they were the goddamn worst). Otherwise, the game feels like it ran out of ideas when you quelled all the Nobles (Avalugg wasn't even rampaging yet, doesn't get hit by lightning, and then just IS rampaging when you fight it) and rushes to figure out how to include a banishment subplot, the lake trio, and Dialga/Palkia in to wrap it all up. It just didn't feel finished, and I know that it isn't in part because it has a post-game quest with Volo/Giratina and Arceus, but the main game story isn't satisfying. Ah yeah, we need the origin ore, thank god it's two feet away from the spot where we decided to invent the fact that it exists, glad we had that annoying detour.
What's unfortunate is that part of me likes the live capturing mechanics, and I don't really know why I do. Capturing literal dozens of the same pokemon is undeniably repetitive busywork and I really gotta question the fact that they focused on it as the main gameplay loop, but it did somehow get its hooks in me for the first few areas. It feels nice to throw the pokeball and catch the pokemon, even if there's realistically no reason I'd ever need or want 25 Bidoof. The problem is, the system for capturing is not deep at all. There's all this talk about stealth and throwing berries... you don't need to do any of that. Half of the pokemon you can just walk up to and crack a pokeball into the back of their skull to instantly catch, the other half all you need to do is either snipe them with a feather/wing ball or simply throw a spoiled nut or dirt ball in their face to temporarily de-aggro them and then hit them in the back of the skull with a pokeball. It was genuinely more effective for me than slowly creeping through the bushes or trying to figure out which berry would interest the pokemon, so I stopped bothering to experiment with that - after all, they only have three types of behavior. They're all either docile, aggressive, or docile until you do something that makes them aggressive like running or being seen capturing a nearby pokemon. They all wander around in circles, doing whichever of those three behaviors, and don't stray from their little zone. They don't do any particular animations or anything special, they don't interact with each other or the environment, they're just replaceable figures standing around in empty boring zones that have nothing to do or see in them. There's no puzzle to get them and getting them stopped feeling like an accomplishment when I realized I can just speedrun through an area and casually toss pokeballs and catch the vast majority of them. If the world could have at least had things worth exploring and discovering, that would've been great! But the world really is just nonsensically designed and has nothing other than hidden Spiritomb orbs and Unown. And the Noble fights are just clunky - they're easy affairs that tend to drag on, and I guess you can actually battle the pokemon but I didn't feel like seeing what bullshit they were going to pull vis-a-vis the unpredictable nonsense of the battle system so I just kept tossing balms, which completely works as a way to win and probably took just as long as the battle would have.
My biggest problem with this game is that I could see it being the groundwork for something good in the future... but I don't really have any faith in Gamefreak to deliver on that. With a more capable studio I could see this evolving into something interesting, but as it stands Gamefreak is just kinda marginal. I wouldn't call it a bad game, but I don't think it's a good game - it's about as middle of the road as can be. I don't think it really excels at anything but I've played much MUCH worse, and I feel that this was still more compelling than Gen 8 despite the many flaws I think it has. Props to anyone who loved this - I sure didn't see it, and I don't understand it, but if this is what you wanted then I'm glad you got to have it. I just wanna have a Pokemon game that catches me again, and as the entries keep coming out and missing with me I feel I'm getting less and less likely to get that... At least I got Basculegion and Overqwil.

World 10-1 was a genuinely good level, it was actually fun. There's like 4 or 5 other levels that are pretty good, and I love the Fire Hydra(nt) boss. That aside, this game is a baffling fever dream of horrible design decisions and awful levels awash in an obnoxious and annoying soundtrack with some of the stupidest cutscenes I've ever seen. Every button doing the same thing, often overwriting the ability to jump, is absolutely the most insane design decision I've ever seen in a video game (especially in a platformer!). I love how the various NPC storylines range from "this farmer's home and livelihood are destroyed in a tornado" and "this girl is nearly murdered by a dolphin that goes crazy" to "man loses a single game of chess" and "boy doesn't understand gravity". Genuinely hilarious that the game seems to be trying to tell a story of overcoming your fears and reaching out to make friends, but the main villain just gets killed off instead of them doing some power of friendship deal to redeem him. Maybe Act 3 changes that? Who knows, I sure don't care to find out! It's not the worst game ever made, but it genuinely is an awful experience with very few redeeming qualities and I was really only able to derive any entertainment out of it from the co-op breaking the game to a hilarious and unintended degree. Don't put yourself through this.

0 Lists liked by Skikkiks