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. 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. In Pikmin 3, 4 of the 5 areas contain fruit, while the last is a standalone challenge. 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.
The method used to unlock areas in each game differs. One area is unlocked from the start, but the others can only be accessed after certain conditions are met. In Pikmin, areas are unlocked through collecting ship parts, the main collectible. The number of parts required to access each area is 1 for The Forest of Hope, 5 for The Forest Navel, 12 for The Distant Spring, and 29 for The Final Trial. In Pikmin 2, the Awakening Wood and the Perplexing Pool are unlocked by collecting the Spherical Atlas and Geographic Projection respectively, while the Wistful Wild is unlocked by collecting × 10000 worth of treasure. In Pikmin 3, unlocking each area is tied to collecting a specific item. The Garden of Hope is unlocked by finding the S.S. Drake and completing day 1, the Distant Tundra is unlocked by collecting the Data Glutton, the Twilight River is unlocked by collecting the Folded Data Glutton, and the Formidable Oak is unlocked by collecting Louie for the second time. (To note is that although the Tropical Wilds is unlocked from the start, it cannot be landed in after day 1 before rescuing Brittany.) In Hey! Pikmin, sectors are unlocked by completing the boss level in the previous sector.
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 fairly 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.
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.
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