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 in 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 various other things. Many hints have associated locations in a specific area that they refer to. Due to the linear structure of Pikmin 3, there is a linear progression of story hints. Only one hint can be active at a time. Each new hint will appear in response to some threshold being reached, and when another hint threshold is reached, it will replace the current hint (even if the new threshold is not the intended next hint because a sequence break was performed).
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. During gameplay, pressing will show the current hint (even if Hint Display is off). Selecting the bubble in the pause menu will also show the current hint. If a new hint becomes available, both bubbles 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 another new hint is available.
When a hint is shown, the game is paused and a 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 of 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 illuminate their surroundings, but they do not have any collision. They do not appear on the radar or the KopPad camera view. After appearing, arrows will not stop pointing towards their associated location until the player reaches that location, though they will briefly disappear and reappear again after the Onion menu or KopPad (except the camera app) is closed. 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.
The associated locations of hints can vary in type. For some hints, the arrows point to a certain point in 3D space, and once the player gets near enough to it, the arrows will disappear. They will not reappear unless the player walks away and opens the hint again. For some hints, the arrows point to a specific sub-area, and once the sub-area is entered, they will turn off. (Opening the hint again while in the sub-area will show no arrows, but opening it from another sub-area will point towards the destination again.) When the associated location is a fragment pile, the arrows can disappear either when the player gets close or when all the fragments have been taken from the pile. However, if fragments return to a pile (because the Pikmin carrying them were whistled) and this causes it to reappear, then the arrows immediately reappear and point towards the pile again.
Hints can sometimes have multiple associated locations. For some hints, these are in a set order, and reaching the first location will change the destination to the next location. For hints about building a bridge or turning on lights, the associated locations are the fragment piles or electrodes, and these can be visited in any order. The arrows will point towards the location closest to the player (in travel distance). When all fragments are taken from a pile or an electrode is turned on, the arrows will not point to another location unless the hint is opened again, and the Hint bubbles will not sparkle.
These hints are directly related to the game's story. They are listed in the order they are intended to be seen. Some hints appear multiple times in the story, and are listed in the Default hints section below. The "Area" column states the area that the trigger condition and the associated location(s) are found in, but the hint will still be the current hint if viewed in another area.
If no text or image is specified for a hint, this default set will be used instead. It is shown here to save space in the main table.
These hints have special conditions for when they appear. They disappear immediately after being closed, and are replaced with the current story hint.