In the fanbase, a challenge run is where a player attempts to complete a game, or part of a game, with a special goal or rules. Most challenge runs are not implemented or recognized by the game, and as such, give no in-game reward for completing them. Most challenge runs only apply to the main Story Mode.
Reasons to undergo these challenges vary between players, but commonly, these type of runs help bring new goals to an otherwise finished game. For some of these challenges, there is also a sense of competition, with players attempting to outdo each other's records. Finally, given the amount of skill necessary to perform these runs – as well as the diverse tricks and glitches involved – these runs commonly entertain other fans too. The other side of performing the runs is investigating and studying ways to push their limits even further, with the discovery of new strategies or tricks.
In order to complete some of them, players have to abuse glitches and sequence breaks, and use advanced techniques such as throwing Pikmin faster. Some rules may disallow glitch exploitation, however. Because of the random nature of some of the game mechanics, some runs might contain more luck than others, and the player may end up achieving their goal more efficiently than if they had bad luck.
Professional challenge runners usually compete amongst themselves and practice constantly. In order to verify that new records are broken, players need to provide some sort of evidence, normally video footage. In recent years, players stream themselves playing for live audiences. For runs that complete the game, either to the end credits, or with full completion, players might choose to do so in a single sitting, with no cuts – a "single-segment" run – or be allowed to reset and retry parts of the game – a "segmented" run.
There are special runs in which tools are used to overcome human limitations, like reflexes or accuracy, and execute the runs with near-perfect outcomes. Such playthroughs are commonly known as tool-assisted superplays.
A speedrun is where one attempts to complete the game or a goal as fast as possible. Normally, especially in the Pikmin series, a well defined plan needs to exist, and players use their skills in order to follow it as quickly as possible. In the Pikmin games, to achieve maximum efficiency, and hence, maximum speed, it is important to plan what each Pikmin should do, where the player needs to go, etc., in order to maximize productivity and ensure that minimal time is wasted. Naturally, more casual runs could forgo advanced techniques and plans, and approach the playthrough with improvisation in mind.
Some secondary goals may be dropped for the sake of speed, like skipping otherwise mandatory sections of the game. Several types of speedrun exist, with differing goals and rules. An "any%" speedrun is only focused on reaching a "real" ending as fast as possible, without caring for how many goals are completed, though a "100% run" aims to achieve full completion as fast as possible.
The following tricks are useful for speedrunning Pikmin games:
The following are the world records for various types of speedruns. Note that, unless otherwise noted, these times are for real-time runs, not in-game timer runs or tool-assisted speedruns. The runs are split by category, and different regions of a game may have different timing methods, tools, or glitches, which all affect a player's speed; these differences are further explained on the region page.
New Play Control! Pikmin
New Play Control! Pikmin 2
Pikmin 3 Deluxe
A low day run is a type of challenge run where a player aims to complete a Pikmin game in as few in-game days as possible. This is normally tied to a speedrun, but not necessarily so, as not only can the strategies be different between the two (sometimes resulting in a different day total), but this challenge also imposes no real limit on time. For instance, given that day time does not pass in caves in Pikmin 2, a player attempting a low day run does not need to worry about speed while underground, as long as they do not deviate from the day's plans.
The following are links to articles detailing low day runs:
Low Pikmin count
Some challenges require the player to complete the game with the lowest number of Pikmin possible.
The following are links to articles detailing low Pikmin challenges:
Low day low Pikmin count
The superlative challenge runs of a Pikmin game not only complete the game in as few in-game days as possible, but with the lowest number of Pikmin as possible. Some runs will prioritize having a low day count, while other runs will prioritize having a low Pikmin count. However, the most exceptional of playthroughs manage to minimize both simultaneously.
The following are descriptions of some playthroughs in each game:
Low in-game time
Pikmin 2 has an in-game time counter that displays the time it took to repay the debt or to collect all treasures on the high scores menu. The game only begins counting time when when a saved game is loaded, and writes the time when it is saved. Because the time it saves is only saved with the granularity of a minute, if a player saves the game within one minute of loading it and then loads the newly-saved save game, the timer will keep the same number of minutes on record and assume no time has passed. This means the final result may not match the real time the playthrough took, and can be abused to get times as low as 18 minutes for an all-treasure completion.
A zero death challenge is when a player attempts to complete a game without a single one of their Pikmin perishing. All games keep track of the number of Pikmin deaths for each file. Using Candypop Buds does not count towards this number. Others challenges are often done in conjunction with this one, either because their rules specifically require no Pikmin to die, or because Pikmin deaths may mean a small delay in having to grow some more.
A 100% playthrough is when the player completes all secondary goals in the game on top of the normal completion. It's normally considered that a "100% run" is a playthrough in which all recordable goals are obtained. For the Pikmin games, the most basic form of a 100% run is to collect all of the main collectibles in the game, and not just the ones that give the main characters a good result and end up with the game's credits. More hardcore definitions of 100% would include all Piklopedia entries or data files, for instance. There is nothing in the Pikmin games that can only be obtained on specific times, and will require the player to start a new run to obtain – anything can be obtained at any time, provided there are enough days left. The Smoky Progg can be missed, but nothing is stored in record for its encounter or defeat.
The most basic form of these type of runs are acknowledged by the game, where the player gets all collectibles: doing so will usually give a different ending from the usual one. Although upgrades in Pikmin 3 are not necessary for the game to give out the best ending, they are usually included in most 100% playthroughs.
A low% challenge is when a game is completed using the minimum number of collectibles possible and still obtain a normal ending. In Pikmin, this challenge only requires the player to collect the 25 mandatory ship parts and ignore the 5 optional ones.
Emergence Cave challenge
An Emergence Cave challenge is a challenge where a player repays the debt in Pikmin 2 using the Emergence Cave as a primary source of money, and without entering any other area in the game. Because enemies in caves respawn and are worth a small amount of Pokos, it is possible to eventually complete the game using just the first cave.
In a normal playthrough, the Courage Reactor must be collected on day 1 before the game can proceed, but by using glitches such as causing an extinction on day 1, even that treasure can be skipped. The rest of the run depends on repeatedly harvesting the 11 Snow Bulborbs, for × 2 each, resulting in at least 413 run-throughs of the cave if the Utter Scrap, Citrus Lump, Quenching Emblem, and Spherical Atlas are collected as well.
With this, it is possible to unlock the Wistful Wild at the same time the Perplexing Pool is unlocked. The area selection screen will only unlock the Wistful Wild when it unlocks the Perplexing Pool, meaning that the Geographic Projection must be collected before the Wistful Wild can be entered. If the Spherical Atlas is collected in the same trip that the debt is repaid, the cutscene where the ship announces that they must head to the new area plays first, and the cutscene for the debt completion plays right afterwards, still on the same day.
This run has been completed within the first in-game day through the use of multiple exploits.
No fruit challenge
In Pikmin 3, a no fruit playthrough is when one completes the game without collecting any whole fruit, only parts. The simplest way to do this is to execute the procedures for a normal 7 day speedrun, but only collect parts of the Crimson Banquet and any other partitioned fruit to make 3 bottles, giving the player just enough juice to reach the end of the game by day 7.
An Onionless playthrough is when the player must never withdraw Pikmin out of an Onion (including the Hocotate ship in Pikmin 2). This means that when Pikmin enter an Onion, they will never be seen again in the playthrough, and the player effectively starts with 0 Pikmin when landing in a new area. In all 3 games, a handful of glitches are required in order to complete the challenge.
Early on in the challenge, an out of bounds glitch is required in The Forest of Hope in order to reach the Yellow Onion, since Red Pikmin cannot be withdrawn from the Red Onion. The player must complete the entire area with just Yellow Pikmin, which is possible with various glitches. In The Forest Navel, the player must approach the Blue Onion right away and grow an entire army from 1 blue sprout. Candypop Buds must be used to make other Pikmin types, and so that the player has 0 Blue Pikmin when arriving in The Distant Spring. This way, the Blue Onion will make a sprout in The Distant Spring, and the player can once again grow an army in order to complete this map. Lastly, the player must obtain 15 Pikmin in The Final Trial, but they only start with 1 Blue Pikmin sprout (if they arrive with 0 Blue Pikmin). The only way to obtain the required number of Pikmin is to throw the Blue Pikmin into a Candypop Bud of a different type, and repeat the process 15 times so that the Blue Onion makes a total of 15 sprouts. Then, the player can kill the Emperor Bulblax, and harvest its five 5-pellets in order to have 40 Pikmin to carry the Secret Safe (note that the Secret Safe weighs 85 in the Japanese version, so this challenge is not possible to complete in this version). In this game, Onionless playthroughs are considered more interesting with the additional rule that no Pikmin deaths are allowed.
A full playthrough has been completed by "Mokaygee" in 23 in-game days. 23 days is believed to be the lowest number of days needed to complete this challenge by a human, but "Mokaygee" has made a tool-assisted superplay completing The Forest of Hope in 1 day Onionless, and "TRR" has made a tool-assisted superplay completing The Forest Navel in 1 day Onionless, making 21 days theoretically possible.
There are a few obstacles in an Onionless playthrough in this game. First of all, the Red Onion must produce a sprout on day 2, and when arriving in Awakening Wood. Otherwise, the player will be unable to obtain Pikmin for the rest of the playthrough. In order to start day 2 with 0 Red Pikmin, a glitch called "day 1 extinction" is required. Also, in order to arrive in the Awakening Wood with 0 Red Pikmin, all of the player's Red Pikmin must be killed, or converted to Purple Pikmin. Lastly, the player must grow 100 Purple Pikmin in 1 day in order to collect Doomsday Apparatus. Doing this is not hard, it simply requires the player to visit Cavern of Chaos 20 times, which is tedious, but doable.
A full playthrough has been completed by "Grassdigger" in 7 in-game days. A handful of glitches were utilized in order to complete the challenge in just 7 days, including the "rest skip" glitch. Unfortunately, a 6 day run does not seem possible under Onionless restrictions, as Awakening Wood simply takes too much time to complete. Note that the player who completed the challenge had 1 death during the playthrough. However, it's actually possible to do a Deathless Onionless playthrough, thanks to a different glitch. Unfortunately, a Deathless Onionless playthrough currently requires 8 days to complete, as 1 more day is needed in Valley of Repose in order to obtain enough Pikmin to crush the 35-weight paper bag. No one has completed a deathless Onionless playthrough of Pikmin 2 yet.
In this game, a deathless Onionless run is impossible. There is no way to make progress in the Garden of Hope if there are Red Pikmin in the Onion. However, because "AshEevee" found a way to kill Pikmin on day 1, an Onionless playthrough is still possible. On day 1, the player can remove all obstacles to the ship, then kill all of their Pikmin. Unlike the 2 previous games, the Onion will make a sprout immediately, but the player must leave it behind so that they can have a red sprout in the Garden of Hope. Going forward, it's best to leave all Pikmin buried or left behind at the end of each day, so that the player can start each new area with 1 of each type of Pikmin sprout. The Formidable Oak proves to be a challenge, because the player starts with 5 Pikmin, and there is no way to grow more. However, if the player uses the Candypop Buds inside the oak, the player can cause extinctions for the different types of Pikmin, making the Onion produce more.
A full playthrough has been completed by "JHawk" in 10 in-game days. Amazingly, all fruits can still be collected in the optimal number of days under the Onionless restriction. "JHawk" uses various glitches to save time, mostly ones that also appear in speedruns of this game, such as clipping leaders through walls, or charging Winged Pikmin at fruits in high places. Regardless, Garden of Hope and Tropical Wilds were tight on time, he says. However, Formidable Oak was the most difficult day, as he only obtained 18 Pikmin from farming extinctions, and it takes about half of the day to even start the boss battle, leaving only the other half of the day to beat the boss with very few Pikmin. Technically, it's also possible to complete the game Onionless in 7 in-game days, though this follows from simply playing the first 6 days like in JHawk's playthrough, then completing Formidable Oak on day 7 in the same way as day 10 of the playthrough.
In order to vary the traditional game rules, some players enforce their own rules. Given the complexity of the game mechanics, several of these rules can be made up and combined, with the following being the most common ones:
Some challenges may require the player to obtain a specific number of Pikmin by the end of the game. This could either be the lowest amount possible (see low Pikmin count above), the highest amount possible before the days are over, or a specific count for specific types, like 0 Blue Pikmin. In addition, these playthroughs could also aim to complete a cave with the lowest amount of Pikmin of each type that one can bring to it.
This challenge run requires the player to reach a game over or a bad ending in the fastest way possible. In the case of Pikmin 2, where a game over is not possible, a Pikmin extinction is often a suitable substitute.
Although similar to Bingo Battle in nature and name, this type of run requires two or more players to complete tasks on a made-up bingo card. The first player to form a Bingo wins. A common rule is to have a "missile" destroy a randomly picked square, and invalidate it for both cards; this usually happens every 5 minutes.
For Challenge Mode in Pikmin 2, a player may attempt to obtain the lowest score possible on a level, while still finishing it successfully. Because The Key is worth 100 Pokos, and each Poko is worth 10 points, the lowest amount of points possible in Pokos is equal to the number of sublevels times 1000. To complete the level, at least 1 Pikmin must be left alive, and seeing as each Pikmin is worth 10 points, the minimal amount of points from Pikmin is 10. Finally, if the player uses the geyser on the last sublevel when the timer shows "0" (possible for a brief moment), they will receive no time bonus. Since all time in the caves cumulatively adds up, holes in each non-final sublevel can be entered with any amount of time left.