Hints are a game mechanic in Pikmin 3 Deluxe that give advice on what to do in the game. Their purpose is to assist players who are not sure what to do to advance the game's story. Hints consist of some text, some images, and in most cases, arrows on the ground pointing towards the next destination.
Hints are designed to guide the player towards advancing through the story. Some are about where to go next, some are about how to defeat bosses, and some are about other things. Many hints have associated locations in an area that they refer to. Due to Pikmin 3's structure, there is generally a linear progression of hints. Only one hint can be active at a time. Each new hint will appear in response to some threshold being reached, and will disappear when some other threshold has been reached. Hints may also have multiple stages to them, requiring multiple tasks to be done before they disappear, and the location they point to can change in response to these tasks. If no hint directly relevant to the player's location in the story is available, the hint will be a default "Keep moving ahead" hint, and may or may not have an associated location. If the player is in an area where the story for that area has already been completed, the default hint is instead about ending the day.
The way hints are shown depends on a setting in the pause menu, called "Hint Display". If it is on (which is the default setting), a bubble with the text "Hints" will appear in the HUD, and if it is off, this bubble will not appear. In both cases, a Hint bubble will be present in the pause menu. If Hint Display is on, pressing will show the current hint. Selecting the bubble in the pause menu will also show the current hint. If a new hint is available, the bubble will sparkle, and an exclamation mark icon will appear over the HUD bubble, indicating a new hint is available. Once the new hint has been viewed, the bubbles will no longer sparkle until a new hint is available.
When a hint is shown, the game is paused and a special hint window takes up most of the screen. It contains an image, which may be a screenshot or a map, and some text below. There may be multiple pages in a hint, and if there are, these can be advanced to the right with , , or right on , and to the left with , , or left on . (The face buttons or the stick can be held to quickly advance through pages in a loop, but the same does not happen for or .) can be pressed to close the hint window and return to gameplay (or the pause menu, if the hint was opened from there).
If Hint Display is on, hints will not only consist of pages of information, but in arrows on the ground. These large blue arrows will point towards that hint's associated location, forming a path in front of the player using the same waypoint system as Go Here!. Since not all hints have an associated location, not all hints have arrows. The arrows will only appear near the active leader, and up to 5 arrows can be on the ground at a time. Arrows are 3D objects and can clip into the ground and illuminate their surroundings. They do not appear on the radar or the KopPad camera view. After appearing, arrows will not stop pointing towards their destination until their completion condition is fulfilled, though they will briefly disappear after the KopPad or Onion menu is closed (except the camera app on the KopPad). Arrows can be made to disappear by turning Hint Display off; after turning it back on the arrows will not reappear unless the hint is opened again.
When a hint has multiple associated locations in a set order (such as fragment piles), arrows will initially point towards the first of these locations. When a location has been visited and a task done there (such as picking up all the fragments), the arrows will disappear. If the player opens the hint page again, the arrows will reappear and point to the next location. (Note that the bubble will not sparkle in this situation, so the game will not let the player know that new arrows are available.) If for some reason the condition for an earlier hint is broken (such as calling Pikmin off fragments from an earlier pile), the arrows will point to the earlier location again until its condition is met again.
These hints appear many times throughout the story, so to simplify the list above, their images and text are listed below, along with the abbreviation used in the main list to represent the hint.