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Gameplay screenshot of a Baldy Long Legs.
Locking on to a Baldy Long Legs in the Tropical Forest.

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Lock-on (or "lock on", ロックオン?, lit.: "Lock On") is a combat and exploration mechanic in Pikmin 3 and Pikmin 4. This feature makes the action focus on a certain enemy, obstacle or other object. This allows players to maneuver around it and not lose its sight, making attacking easier. In the Wii U release of Pikmin 3, locking-on also allows the player to obtain the target's name and to order the Pikmin army to charge.

Lock-on is achieved by getting the cursor near enough to an object that can be locked on to, and pressing the corresponding button when the game indicates that locking on is possible. Unlike other Nintendo games that have lock-on functionality (e.g. Metroid Prime), the player does not need to hold the button in order to keep it. Moving far enough away from the target will also cancel the lock-on automatically.

This mechanic works differently in Pikmin 3 and Pikmin 3 Deluxe.

Pikmin 3[edit]

To lock-on, the player must be close enough to an object, and must move the cursor to it. At that point, the cursor will change, and the player must then hold WiiU ZL.png / Nunchuk Z.png / WiiUPC ZL.png for roughly half a second so that the scan's lock takes place. Once locked-on, briefly tapping the same button again cancels the lock-on.

Once locked-on, the camera zooms in and focuses on the object, and rotates to follow it around. While locked on, manual camera controls are disabled. Dodging will make the leader and Pikmin roll around the object, as opposed to rolling in a straight line left or right. With the GamePad or Wii U Pro Controller, holding the lock-on button will place the cursor on top of the target that started the lock-on, and keeping it held will keep the cursor there.


When the cursor is on top of something that can be locked, it changes from being a simple circle with a dot projected on the terrain, to a circle with three triangles pointing inward, facing the screen. Once the player begins holding down the lock button, the cursor also changes aspect to indicate how much more the player needs to hold the button down for so that the lock takes place. This isn't very useful, since locking on takes a fraction of a second.

While scanning, the left and right portions of the screen darken, two curved lines appear near the darkened areas, and some textual information is shown on some corners of the screen. The bottom-right corner of the HUD shows the object's name surrounded by some Koppaite text that translates to "Space library lite" "Simple dictionary in the PIPAD" "Just has the names". The top-left corner displays an icon of the same button used to trigger lock-on, but with the string "Cancel Lock-On" afterwards: this indicates that the button can be pressed again to cancel. The bottom-right corner shows that issuing a dismiss in this state (WiiU B.png / Nunchuk shake.png / WiiU B.png) makes the Pikmin party charge at it. With Stylus mode, the dismiss button on-screen also changes caption to read "Charge".

Pikmin 3 Deluxe[edit]

To lock-on, the player must move the cursor close enough to an object, which will cause an indicator to appear above said object. The player can then press Icon for the ZR Button on the Nintendo Switch. Edited version of the icon by ARMS Institute user PleasePleasePepper, released under CC-BY-SA 4.0. to lock on there. Unlike the original game, the lock-on is instant.

Once locked-on, the movement controls and the camera will remain the exact same, but the cursor will be stuck on the object. That said, if gyro controls are enabled, the cursor can be moved a small distance around the locked object. If there is another object that can be locked-on to in the vicinity, the indicator will appear above it, and pressing the lock-on button again will change the focus to that one instead. This can be repeated for as long as there are objects to lock-on to, and once the player runs out, the lock-on mode ends. Lock-on can also be stopped prematurely by pressing the whistle button.

When locked-on, the charge mechanic works almost the same as normal, but the Pikmin will ignore any other nearby objects and focus on the locked-on one instead, and Winged Pikmin and Blue Pikmin will be able to fly or swim up to where it is. While locked-on, holding down the throw button will make the leader hold the Pikmin or leader for a second, before throwing Pikmin in rapid succession automatically, until the button is released. Any item that can be carried will also display its weight and current carrier count when the player locks-on to it.


The indicator that shows that an object can be locked-on to is a light blue triangle above the object, pointing down at it. If the cursor is locked-on, it changes from its usual look to a reticle with four triangles pointing inward. If the leader moves far enough away that it's impossible to throw, but not so far that the lock-on mode is cancelled, the reticle becomes bigger, the triangles turn to lines, and the whole cursor turns blue.

Certain objects will also show a prompt above them saying "Lock On", along with the required button, when the indicator shows up.

Pikmin 4[edit]

In Pikmin 4, the lock-on system used is very similar to Pikmin 3 Deluxe, though the cursor now automatically locks-on to objects within throwing distance. In cases of there being multiple objects that can be locked-on to, the object closest to the cursor will be chosen. Objects being carried by Pikmin will not be locked-on to. Pressing Icon for the ZR Button on the Nintendo Switch. Edited version of the icon by ARMS Institute user PleasePleasePepper, released under CC-BY-SA 4.0. will lock the cursor to the currently locked-on object. Like in the Wii U version of Pikmin 3, pressing Icon for the ZR Button on the Nintendo Switch. Edited version of the icon by ARMS Institute user PleasePleasePepper, released under CC-BY-SA 4.0. while locked-on will cycle through nearby targets.

Lockable targets[edit]

The leaf texture used in Pikmin 2's Challenge Mode menu. (Used on Pikipedia in the {{stub}} template.)

This section is a stub. You can help Pikipedia by expanding it.
Suggestions: Complete the list and add missing icons.

To do: verify if and when Olimar/Louie are identified as Hocotatians, "???", or their actual names.
Care to do so?

Only some objects in the game can be locked-on to. Some targets allow the cursor to lock-on to a specific location, like a Bulborb's eyes or back, or a section on the Armored Mawdad.

Although hard, it is possible to lock-on to some objects that are normally too far away to allow a lock-on. This can be done with the Stellar Extrusion on the Tropical Wilds: by positioning the camera such that the fruit appears on one of the top corners, it is possible to put the cursor there, and lock-on. However, shortly after the lock takes place, it will be canceled automatically given the large distance.

The following is a list of objects that can be locked-on to:


  • The following objects display "???" in story mode, before they are identified by the crew:
    • The Fruit File icon for the Sunseed Berry. All fruits
    • Pikmin 3 icon for the Scorch Guard. All gear
  • Objects that Pikmin return to to get more of, usually in piles, can only be locked-onto in their original resting places. When they are, it focuses on the entire pile and is labeled in plural, even if only one object remains. This applies to:
    • The Fruit File icon for the Dusk Pustules. Dusk Pustules
    • The Fruit File icon for the Dawn Pustules. Dawn Pustules
    • Fragment icon.png Fragments
    • Hay icon.png Hay
    • Nugget icon.png Nuggets
  • The Vehemoth Phosbat can not be locked-onto while it is invisible, even though the player can still point at its faint silhouette.
  • Locking-onto a Scornet in the Scornet Maestro battle will instead lock-onto the actual boss. Similarly, locking-onto an independent group of Scornets will instead focus on the center of the swarm. It will also display "Scornets", in plural.
  • Although the legs, feet, bottom, and head of the Quaggled Mireclops can be locked-on, its grassy top cannot. When it is dead, only its head can be locked-onto.


In a prerelease version of Pikmin 3 the lock-on screen appeared much more different and simpler.

Prior to version 2.0.0 of Pikmin 3, the pieces of text on the left corners of the screen didn't exist. They were added with the update, in order to make it easier for players to know how to cancel the lock-on and how to charge.

Older appearance images[edit]



Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Flag of Japan Japanese ロックオン?
Flag of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Chinese
Flag of China Chinese
Flag of France French Verrouiller un cible Lock a target
Flag of Germany German Kamera fokussieren Focus Camera
Flag of Italy Italian Agganciare Grasp
Flag of South Korea Korean 조준
Flag of Spain Spanish Fijar objetivo Fix objective