The Pikmin encounter a multitude of enemies (原生生物?, lit.: "Primitive Creature") on PNF-404. With few exceptions, these are both predators and prey, and they have varied characteristics and appearances. Combat against enemies constitutes a major part of gameplay in all Pikmin games.
Enemies have varied attacks, and some take advantage of hazards to cause damage to Pikmin who are not immune to them. Offensively, enemies either eat Pikmin or hurt them with attacks, both melee and projectile-based, and with effects that range from pushing the Pikmin off to outright killing them. A few enemies are incapable of directly killing Pikmin.
Killed enemies may drop pellets, which can be brought to an Onion to exchange for Pikmin seeds. Defeated enemies that leave a corpse can also be returned to an Onion, the Research Pod, or the SPERO, being exchanged for Pokos in the case of the latter two. An enemy under the effect of an ultra-bitter spray will vanish when its health drops to zero; nectars or sprays then have a chance of dropping instead.
Some enemies contain important items like ship parts, treasures, or fruits, which they drop when defeated; these will still be dropped even if the creature was petrified. Most downed enemies will also safely release any Pikmin in their grasp, regardless of any apparently fatal damage caused when the Pikmin was trapped (like the Cloaking Burrow-nit's impalement). This allows otherwise doomed Pikmin to be saved.
It is unconfirmed how the enemies are named, but it is known in most games that Olimar names them, as he bases the Bulborb's name after his dog, Bulbie. Pikmin 3 is more confusing, however, since the names of enemies are only seen through locking-on. It is possible the Koppaites name them immediately after they see each enemy, but its more likely the lock-on is just for the player and is not what the Koppaites actually see. For repeating enemies, it could be the Kopad has the names Olimar created stored inside it, like in the Insect Condo's case.
Boss enemies are tougher than standard enemies, but also rarer. They usually have to be defeated to obtain a plot-critical object. While Pikmin has little distinction between bosses and regular enemies, Pikmin 2 has 12 clearly-defined bosses that are found at the end of caves, Pikmin 3 has 6 very clearly-defined bosses that each hold the item that allows access to the next section of the story, and Hey! Pikmin has 9 very clearly-defined bosses fought at the end of sectors.
Most enemies roam around in a specific location of the area, leaving only to chase after or run away from Pikmin or leaders. Some enemies are quite dedicated to their initial spots, returning to them after wandering too far, while others, like the Spotty Bulbear in Pikmin 2, will patrol a certain area and can even chase the player all the way to the Onions. The locations in which enemies can be found sometimes depend on their nature. For instance, the fur-coated Hairy Bulborbs are better suited to cold environments, and as such, are commonly found in ice-themed caves.
Enemies are normally killed by Pikmin attacks, which becomes easier the more Pikmin are attacking. They can also inadvertently kill themselves by ingesting White Pikmin, falling off pits, or rarely, by coming into contact with certain hazards. They can even be killed by some of the attacks of other enemies, such as the Armored Cannon Larva's rocks, or the Yellow Wollywog's stomp in Pikmin 3.
As threats to Pikmin, enemies can attack in a variety of ways, the most common one being eating them. They can also crush them, kill them with a hazard they're vulnerable to, and knock them out with an explosion, among other methods. For some of these attacks, there is a cap on the number of Pikmin that can be affected by it. For instance, in Pikmin, a Bulborb may only grab and eat three Pikmin at most with a single bite, but in Pikmin 2, five can fall prey to the same bite. The exception to this is the enemies in Hey! Pikmin, which more often than not, kill Pikmin and damage Olimar by simply touching them.
For the most part, every enemy is its own entity, interacting only with the Pikmin and leaders. Some enemies, however, have passive or active interactions with the environment, other enemies, or miscellaneous objects.
Some creatures keep a bond with others. To maximize the chances of survival, some enemies can be seen next to others, normally of their own species, and oftentimes interacting with them when a fight for survival is taking place. Dwarf Bulborbs, Dwarf Bulbears, etc. are often found next to larger enemies of the same species or of the species they are mimicking. When under attack in Pikmin, they may scream in order to wake up their larger allies.
Other creatures choose to follow a leader, normally of their own family. An example is the Bulbmin, who lose all sense of control should their leader perish, the Scornets, who obey the command of the Scornet Maestro, and the Shearwig, which can be found under the control of a Queen Shearwig, and are otherwise independent.
Hostility between enemies is non-existent, but cases of enemies damaging each other are not. Some enemies may, if inadvertently, hurt others. This normally happens when they try to kill Pikmin or leaders. Not many enemy attacks are made to hurt others, but the following are:
As a gameplay element
In the games, enemy locations are relatively evenly spread, in order to maximize the balance between exploration and combat, as to not overwhelm the player. More important locations, however, are generally covered by stronger enemies, requiring the player to excel in combat skill if they are to obtain the rewards that lie behind them. Analogously, easier enemies are encountered closer to the landing sites and the first floors of caves.
Enemies that are killed do not reappear until the leaders leave, regardless of leaving a corpse. Some enemies do, however, respawn after an in-game day has passed, or after a cave is entered and exited, although others might require the passing of some full days before returning. In addition, some only appear in specific days, as is the case with the Goolix and the Mamuta on The Impact Site. Besides respawning, some enemies can actually revive after they've been considered dead, and a few have a natural health regeneration mechanic.
Intelligence-wise, enemies have a very simplistic artificial intelligence system. Some bosses are hard-coded to perform more specific actions and reply to more specific events, but for the most part, enemies can recognize the presence of a Pikmin, when to attack, when to shake Pikmin off, when to return to their home spot, and not much else. On top of that, their path recognition systems are non-existent: when they want to reach a spot, they head directly towards it, with no regard to any walls or obstacles. Most of the time, there are no obstacles in the way (or if there are, they can be slid through), but otherwise, this can lead to them getting stuck behind them, endlessly walking in place.
Enemies also do not take walls into account for their vision, chasing, or animations. They can see prey through walls, they will walk into them if their target is on the other side, and if they are close enough to attack, they can reach Pikmin and leaders through the wall; this is especially notable for enemies with long reach, like the Cloaking Burrow-nit. Regardless, the Hermit Crawmad has the ability to climb up walls, as demonstrated in tile sublevels with pools, such as sublevel 1 of The Giant's Bath.
These simplicities, however, are required to minimize the development costs and the processor usage, given that more complex path recognition systems could end up lowering the game's framerate. Another trick to minimize processor usage is to simply not render or recognize any enemy that lies beyond the camera's reach. These tricks allow the game to run smoothly without severely compromising the game and the enemies' livelihood.
List of enemies
The following is a list of enemies in the Pikmin series. Names in bold belong to enemies that are considered bosses or mini-bosses. The enemy categories on Pikipedia can also be browsed, with the main one being Enemies.
In Pikmin 2
In Pikmin 3
In Hey! Pikmin
The enemy reel is a special movie at the end of Pikmin. It showcases short clips featuring all enemies in the game, accompanied by a minor description of each.
The Piklopedia is a catalog of creatures in Pikmin 2 and Pikmin 3 Deluxe. Each entry shows the creature in action and some notes on it by the leaders, as well as some statistics. The Piklopedia in Pikmin 2 also allows the player to interact with the enemies, by throwing Pikpik carrots, using a free camera mode.
The Indigenous Life Exploration Notes are a series of data files containing a few tips about how some of the more common enemies work, especially bosses. They also have a stylized drawing of the situation they describe.
The logs in Hey! Pikmin are similar to the Piklopedia, but do not allow direct interaction with the creatures, and only contain Olimar's notes.
Enemies that reappear
In Pikmin 2's above-ground areas, most enemies take a few days to respawn, but some will do so after entering and exiting a cave. Some of these enemies hold treasures, and if the enemy has been killed but its treasure has not been retrieved, it will ingest the object again when it reappears.
Names in other languages