Leaders (リーダー?, lit.: "Leader"), unofficially also called captains, are the characters the player controls in the Pikmin games. Leaders have the ability to lead a squad of Pikmin, and can command the squad through throwing, whistling, and other actions. Each of the 8 leaders in the series is an alien explorer with some role in the mission, with the exception of Oatchi and Moss who are space dogs. Some games have multiple leaders which can be switched between, allowing multiple squads to be managed at a time.
In Pikmin, there is only one leader, Olimar, an employee of Hocotate Freight who crash-landed on PNF-404. In Pikmin 2, Louie is added as a second character, also controlled by the player; it is possible to switch between the two playable leaders by pressing / . Louie is replaced by The President after the debt is cleared. In Pikmin 3 there are three new leaders: the engineer Alph, the botanist Brittany, and the crew's captain, Charlie. / / is used to switch in the original Pikmin 3 and the action menu is used to switch in Pikmin 3 Deluxe.
Puffstools, Antenna Beetles, mature Bulbmin, and the Scornet Maestro act as naturally occurring enemy leaders, in each of the three Pikmin games, stealing the player's Pikmin or scouting with their own type of underlings.
When the player is not playing as the other leader(s), they are considered inactive. The inactive leader is controlled by a simple artificial intelligence system in both Pikmin 2 and Pikmin 3. If the inactive leader is with the active leader's group, they will follow the active leader very closely. They will also attack an enemy if the active leader is attacking the enemy through punching. However, they can only throw about one punch per second; far less than the player is capable of. The Rocket Fist will also not activate for the inactive leader. In Pikmin 3, they will not punch alongside the leader, as leaders can now be thrown.
If an inactive leader is not in the player's group, they will stand idle similar to the way Pikmin do when dismissed or thrown. However, they can not call idle Pikmin to their side by touching them. They will also not attack enemies; instead choosing to walk away from them, which can be used to the player's advantage against certain creatures, such as the Ranging Bloyster. Pikmin in the inactive group are likely to be killed in these situations nonetheless, as the leader's reactions are rather sloppy and aim to protect the leader, not their Pikmin squad. In Pikmin 3, whenever a leader is near an enemy, they will run in circles around it, while alerting the active leader by saying something. For example, Charlie can say "Things aren't looking good!" if he is near an enemy.
- Main article: Captain Olimar.
Captain Olimar, often simply called Olimar, is the main character of the Pikmin series. He is the Hocotate Freight employee who discovered PNF-404 and the Pikmin. He is the captain of his personal ship, the S.S. Dolphin, until it is sold to repay some of the debt at the start of Pikmin 2. In Pikmin 3, Captain Olimar is a non-playable character that appears later in the story. However, he is playable in Bingo Battle and certain Mission Mode stages. Olimar is also playable in the Side Story missions in Pikmin 3 Deluxe. In Pikmin 4, he once again remains unplayable in the main story (apart from a brief prologue), but is playable in Olimar's Shipwreck Tale and Dandori Battle mode (second player only).
- Main article: Louie.
Louie first appears in Pikmin 2 and serves as a partner to Olimar, commanding Pikmin as his sidekick. He is relatively new to the shipping business and has a ravenous appetite. He was raised by his grandmother, who made him play with bugs and eat them, from where it is assumed that his great affinity for cooking beasts in Pikmin 2 comes. After gaining 10,000 Pokos, Louie is replaced by the President. In Pikmin 3, Louie is salvaged a few times by the Koppai explorers. He is only a playable leader in a few Mission Mode stages, and when playing with two leaders per team in Bingo Battle. In Pikmin 3 Deluxe, Louie is also playable in the Side Story missions.
Recently, Louie's signature color has been changed from blue to yellow, as seen in the side stories of Pikmin 3 Deluxe and the updates to the Nintendo Switch version of Pikmin 2. The reason for this is unclear, but likely has to do with giving all of the pre-Pikmin 4 leaders their own unique color.
- Main article: The President.
The President is the owner of Hocotate Freight, and is a playable character in Pikmin 2. He is called "Shacho" in the Japanese version, which is Japanese for "President". After returning back to Hocotate after clearing the debt, the President becomes the replacement for Louie for the rest of Pikmin 2's duration. He is mentioned many times throughout Pikmin 3 and Pikmin 4, such as in Olimar's Log and the voyage logs written by Olimar and Louie. There is a snow sculpture of him in the Distant Tundra, and the Lucky Marble in Bingo Battle resembles his head. However, he does not appear as a playable character in this game whatsoever.
- Main article: Alph.
Alph is the mechanic of the S.S. Drake. He is kind, gentle, very interested in technological devices, and is a very capable engineer that configures objects found on the Pikmin Planet for the crew to use on their quest for food. He has a cerulean blue tuft of hair and wears a spacesuit with cerulean blue accents. Like the other two members of his team, he is from Koppai.
- Main article: Brittany.
Brittany is a botanist who is responsible of keeping track of the fruit found on the planet and juices produced by the crew. She is a bit dishonest and seems to care about her own safety far more than that of others, as she tends to take slightly more than her share of juice and is not concerned at all when Charlie is lost in the wild. Brittany is also a bit of a glutton, though not quite as much as Louie. She has shoulder-length pink hair and a spacesuit with pink accents.
- Main article: Charlie.
Charlie is the captain of the Koppaite trio. Though acting tough, he is caught quite off-guard by the Pikmin on the foreign planet. He also tries his best to appear as a good leader, but nonetheless the crew members all have equal say in decision-making. Aside from these traits, his personality differs noticeably between the European and American versions of Pikmin 3. In the former, he appears to be very fond of Brittany, but in the latter, he is instead portrayed as being very egotistical. His hair is styled in a flattop pattern, but unlike Alph and Brittany, Charlie's hair does not match his suit's color scheme. Instead, his hair and mustache are dark brown, whereas his suit has green accents. By extension, his suit bears a five-point star, which presumably denotes his superior rank. Humorously, Charlie also owns a rubber ducky that he is very fond of.
- Main article: Pikmin 4 player character.
The main character of Pikmin 4 is a customizable character, referred to in promotional material and in the game's introduction as "You". Their name and appearance can be customized in a character creator. They are the newest recruit to the Rescue Corps, sent to rescue them from a crash landing after trying to rescue Captain Olimar for the same reason.
The default design of this character (shown in trailers and promotion art) has a full head of unkempt red hair, one long eyelash atop each eye, rosy cheeks, a small spherical nose, a small circular open mouth, an orange antenna light, as well as a full red spacesuit with white gloves and boots. Their ID card states they are from the planet Karut.
- Main article: Oatchi.
The space dog Oatchi is the second playable character in Pikmin 4. Unlike the main player character, he cannot be customized, but his collar color will match the Rescue Corps suit color. He can be taught skills such as increasing his strength, allowing him to use the Go Here! function, or unlocking the ability to pluck. Just like the player character, he can call back Pikmin, but he uses a bark instead of a whistle. He can also throw Pikmin using his mouth. Instead of being able to charge or swarm Pikmin, he can dash forward in a "Rush", which damages and stuns enemies on impact while launching any Pikmin he is carrying at them.
- Main article: Moss.
A space dog named Moss fills Oatchi's role in Olimar's Shipwreck Tale, being one Olimar encountered in the Blossoming Arcadia on PNF-404. Like Oatchi, she can be taught skills that increase her damage and speed, as well as function like a secondary leader. However, she learns her skills overtime rather than by exchanging Pup Drive.
Enemies as leaders
While not playable, several enemies have displayed leader-like traits, either through controlling the player's Pikmin or some equivalent to them.
- Main article: Antenna Beetle.
The Antenna Beetles found in Pikmin 2 are comparable to the Hocotatian leaders in that they can control Pikmin with the sounds they produce, apparently by flapping their wings. This appears to affect Pikmin in a similar way to the whistles of the other leaders. The only way to regain control of the captured Pikmin is to kill, stun, or chase away the Antenna Beetle. The Antenna Beetle's whistling range is notably larger than the leaders', without the Mega Tweeter.
- Main article: Puffstool.
The only enemy leader in the first Pikmin game is the Puffstool, who will shoot spores at Pikmin to infect them. These "Mushroom Pikmin" will follow the Puffstool around, and will chase Captain Olimar if he gets too close. Pikmin can be cured by either shaking them off or by killing the Puffstool.
- Main article: Bulbmin.
Bulbmin are Pikmin-Bulborb crosses that roam around caves. They have a maximum of ten following Bulbmin. These Bulbmin do not do anything but follow their leader. The leader attacks by eating Pikmin just like normal Bulborbs do, and when the player kills it, the followers will get frightened and run around in circles. These Bulbmin can be called into the army, and act as additional Pikmin. They have immunities to the main four hazards, but the downside is that they cannot be taken out of caves. It is best to use Candypop Buds to convert them into other types of Pikmin which can be taken out of caves.
- Main article: Spotty Bulbear.
In Pikmin 2 and Pikmin 3, Spotty Bulbears are awake and walk from place to place. It's common to find Dwarf Bulbears following them around in a pack. If a mature Bulbear passes near some dwarfs, they will stop whatever they are doing and will start following. Besides that, these two creatures have no other interaction.
- Main article: Scornet Maestro.
The Scornet Maestro is the fourth major boss in Pikmin 3 story mode. It can command up to 100 Scornets at the same time and use them to attack with various formations. They also protect it. After one of its assaults, the Scornets will leave for a while, and the player will be able to attack the Maestro.
- Main article: Queen Shearwig.
The Queen Shearwig is the fifth boss fought in Hey! Pikmin, in the Troop Commander area. As the name of the area implies, the Queen Shearwig is the commander of a troop of Shearwigs, which aid it in battle. These must be defeated in order to attack the Queen.
- Main article: Moss.
Moss is a special enemy encountered in Hero's Hideaway before completing Leafling Showdown. She will roam the floors of Hero's Hideaway and attempt to collect any Pikmin she finds. If she manages to whistle the player's Pikmin, they will jump on her back as she carries them off. Similar to confusion, the Pikmin will have purple clouds around their stems and cannot be whistled. To free the Pikmin, the player must damage Moss enough until she starts to run away, which will make her drop the Pikmin.
- Main article: Leafling#Leafling_Olimar.
In Dandori Battle caves in Pikmin 4, a strange red leafling commands his own group of pikmin identical to how the player does: collecting treasures, defeating enemies, and carrying those things to their own onion. This leafling is later revealed to be Olimar.
Gameplay differences between characters
Normally, all playable leader characters work exactly the same in terms of gameplay, making choosing a specific one a preference for the player.
However, in Pikmin 2, Louie and the President are actually slightly taller than Olimar, which has a very slight impact in the gameplay. Clipping through the bridge near the Geographic Projection using the Napsack is considerably easier with Louie and the President, compared to Olimar. It can also be noted that in this game, the music switches from straight eight notes when controlling Captain Olimar to swing time when controlling Louie or the President.
In Pikmin 3, Brittany has a minor special role at the Formidable Oak since she's the one the Pikmin will initially follow. If she falls, Captain Charlie will take her place, and then Alph. Charlie's frame is also larger, and when he holds on to another leader or Pikmin, they're actually a bit further outward than with Alph or Brittany. In the original Pikmin 3, this makes Captain Charlie ideal for releasing Pikmin or leaders through walls.
In Pikmin 4, Oatchi's capabilities are vastly different from that of the player character. Oatchi can jump, rush, dig, carry objects, and follow scents. Pikmin in Oatchi's squad will ride on his back rather than trailing behind him, allowing Oatchi to transport Pikmin safely across water, cold areas, and sizzling floors. However, Oatchi cannot charge or swarm, and can only cross water and pluck Pikmin after being trained to do so. Oatchi also cannot use climbing walls, nor can he pass through iron bars or narrow tunnels.
Leader is down
When a leader loses all of their health, they become unconscious. In Pikmin, the day ends and all Pikmin that aren't in an Onion die. In Pikmin 2 and Pikmin 3, this only occurs if all leaders faint; otherwise, the Pikmin that were with the fallen leader become idle, and the leader is moved to the Hocotate ship or the S.S. Drake, where they stay until the end of the day.
In Pikmin, if Captain Olimar's suit takes too much damage, there will be a cutscene with his space suit being electrified, then Olimar falling down. Eventually, the screen will turn black and white. The words "Olimar is down" will then appear on-screen and the day's journal will read as follows:
In Pikmin 4 if a leader runs out of health, they will be teleported to the S.S. Beagle, where they will slowly regain health. The other leader can stop the health regeneration and bring the leader back to life by pressing next to the knocked-out leader.
Artwork of Olimar from Pikmin.
Brittany as seen from the KopPad in an early build of the game.
Captain Charlie in the Distant Tundra.
The leaders in an earlier E3 2012 build of Pikmin 3.
- Pikmin 3 was originally planned to have four leaders, but the idea was later changed to three. The leaders in the concept art were labeled as A, B, C, and D. While A, B, and C were later worked into Alph, Brittany, and Charlie respectively, D went unused. It's commonly thought that D's name was meant to be Drake, and was later reworked into the Koppai explorer's spaceship, the S.S. Drake.
- Also in Pikmin 3, leaders can lightly move small objects by repeatedly bumping into them. These objects include nectar eggs, Cupid's Grenades, Juicy Gaggles, and the smallest part of Crimson Banquets. Objects can be pushed into the abyss using this method, but they merely reappear in their original location.
- In Pikmin 3 Deluxe, if the Story Mode is played with two players during a moment where only one leader should be playable, the second player will control an exact copy of that leader. The other player will appear translucent from the other person's perspective.
- Leaders are on occasion referred to as captains by players. This might be because the term is often used to refer to certain leaders in the games. In reality, Olimar, Charlie, and Shepherd are the only known individuals to officially hold the title of Captain, and are referred to as such. Shepherd is notably too afraid of Pikmin to command them, making her a captain but not a leader outside the non-canon Dandori Battle mode.
- The Pikmin 2 Nintendo Player's Guide uniquely refers to the leaders as pilots.
Names in other languages
- Mii, who fill the role of leaders in Pikmin Adventure and Pikmin Bloom
- Minor characters
- Pikmin family
- YouTube video showing how to clip through the bridge with the Napsack (at 09:007)
|Captain Olimar • Louie • The President • Alph • Brittany • Charlie • Pikmin 4 player character
|Oatchi • Collin • Shepherd • Russ • Dingo • Yonny • Bernard
|S.S. Dolphin • Hocotate ship • S.S. Drake • S.S. Dolphin II • SPERO • S.S. Beagle • S.S. Shepherd
|Castaway • Leafling • Minor characters • Moss • Pikmin