Areas are the main explorable locations in the Pikmin games. Each game in the series has a set of areas that can be visited, and these areas provide a range of environments to grow Pikmin, fight enemies, and collect items.
In each game, the leaders will only be able to access a single area initially, but over the course of the game, more areas will be unlocked. For instance, to access to the Perplexing Pool in Pikmin 2, a specific treasure, the Geographic Projection, must be collected. Gaining access to new areas is a major form of progression through the games.
Areas function differently in each game in the series. Each of the main games features an area selection screen, and at the beginning of the day, the player can select which area to land in from the areas unlocked. It is not possible to change the area one is exploring during a day. In Pikmin, ship parts are scattered around the 5 areas, and new areas are unlocked by collecting certain amounts of these parts. In Pikmin 2, each of the 4 areas contains 3 or 4 entrances to caves, which contain most of the treasures needed to complete the game, and areas are unlocked mainly by collecting certain treasures. In Pikmin 3, 4 of the 5 areas contain fruit, and areas are unlocked by obtaining other key items. In Hey! Pikmin, areas function like linear standalone levels, and are organized into groups called sectors, of which there are 9. Each sector includes four normal areas, a secret area, a boss area, four Secret Spots, and a Sparklium Spring, with the exception of the last sector, which is made of only one area.
Though not directly confirmed, it is heavily implied that some areas in Pikmin 2 are actually areas from Pikmin, albeit changed. The Awakening Wood has the same layout as The Forest of Hope. It has been implied by Olimar that these are the same location, as read on his journal about the Geographic Projection. Likewise, the Perplexing Pool shares the same layout as The Distant Spring, with some changes (such as the concrete section at the landing site). The Wistful Wild is a combination of The Impact Site and The Final Trial, with some new terrain connecting the areas. The Valley of Repose is not a remade version of The Forest Navel or any other area from the first Pikmin game and is completely new.
All areas in Pikmin 3 are original, while the forest shown in the title screen is almost the same as the western path of the Awakening Wood. This is best seen with a model viewer, because of the water and angles. This comparison is detailed here. The Mission Mode stage Forgotten Cove is a remade version of the The Forest Navel.
Normally, in Hey! Pikmin, exploration of each area starts at one point and ends in another, and when an area is finished, the one whose letter comes next in the alphabet becomes available. But some areas have a secret exit, usually behind some hidden path or challenge. If the player finds the S.S. Dolphin II's pod at the secret exit, it will comment on how it found an extra area with some Sparklium, and will recommend Captain Olimar to go check it out. At the area selection menu the path that opens connects to an "X" area, instead of the next letter of the alphabet. When this alternative area is completed, it leads to the letter after the area that the player skipped, meaning that regardless of the player taking the regular path or the secret exit, they will have to complete the same number of areas to reach the sector's boss. The following is a list of areas with secret exits, and where they end up.
Above ground, terrain varies between Pikmin games. It has no real impact on the gameplay, but it does change the atmosphere and the different types of enemies that may be encountered.
Most areas in Pikmin have natural surfaces such as sand, soil and wood.
In Pikmin 2, the player will find a vast array of different types of terrain.
In Hey! Pikmin, the player can find a pretty large variety of environments. Each sector of the game features a unique environment, which serves to set the ambience. However, some areas vary from the atmosphere of the sector where they're located.
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