Pikmin (ピクミン?) are a plant-animal life-form first encountered by Captain Olimar when his ship crash-lands on an uncharted planet in Pikmin. The Pikmin are loyal to their leaders, although their criteria for deciding a leader is unclear. They come in a number of different types, each indicating a unique set of attributes that better suit them to different environments and tasks. Most Pikmin are 1.2cm tall head to toe – around 3cm if the stem and top are included – and have a vaguely humanoid shape, allowing them to walk, run, carry and fight. Different types can have different shapes or sizes. Atop any Pikmin's head is a stem, topped with a leaf, bud, or flower, depending on their maturity.
Captain Olimar was noted in Pikmin to wonder, a bit uneasily, why the Pikmin don't attack him, and he speculated that they might see him as a "parental figure". However, the Antenna Beetle being able to control Pikmin with its sound might prove that it is in fact the whistle that makes Pikmin non-aggressive. Despite having a highly developed and friendly social structure, they do not seem able to process more complex emotions such as love or disgust, however it is very likely they can process simple emotions such as happiness, sadness, or anger.
Although each species has different characteristics, most Pikmin have the same general appearance: a roughly humanoid body shape, two round eyes, two arms and two legs, two hands and two feet – each with three digits – and a tall stem on which a single leaf, bud, or five-petaled flower grows. Their limbs also serve as roots when buried in the ground. In fact, Olimar refers to their entire bodies, save the stems, as ambulatory root structures.
The internal structures of Pikmin are a mystery, but certain things about them can be speculated. Since Pikmin never seem to eat anything, save nectar, they probably have a very simple digestive system, if any. As such, it is likely that Pikmin get a majority of their nutrients from food the Onions break down. Since the Onions are the center of Pikmin reproduction as well, it seems likely that Pikmin are incapable of sexual reproduction. However, in Pikmin flowering Pikmin will sometimes drop seeds when slain in battle, suggesting that they may be able to reproduce asexually, but also that they do not have defined sexes and are hermaphrodites like many plants. Pikmin also have a skeletal system, as seen when electrocuted. Pikmin probably don't have any sort of lungs (however, the Blue Pikmin are observed to have gill structures), but their leaves, buds, and flowers appear to serve as their main means of respiration, since poison gas or water droplets collecting around them suffocates the Pikmin; inversely, walking in shallow water in which their leaf/bud/flower does not touch (as seen in the Shower Room) is fine. When killed, Pikmin disappear and a soul flies into the air, sometimes after releasing a liquid of the same color as the Pikmin, possibly the Pikmin equivalent to hemolymph or blood – this is best seen when the Cloaking Burrow-nit attacks.
Pikmin start off as seeds ejected from the Onion, which, after landing on the ground, transform into sprouts. A leader must pluck a sprout so that the Pikmin may come out. While idle, the Pikmin's leaves and flowers glow that Pikmin's respective color; that, coupled with a cutscene at the end of Pikmin 2, would suggest that Pikmin are somehow bioluminescent, though what causes this and what function it might serve in the wild has never been explained.
Regular Pikmin are able to carry (at least) ten times their own weight, as evidenced by the ability of Blue Pikmin to lift and toss heavy Purple Pikmin when they are drowning in water. Pikmin are also capable of basic speech and can even be heard saying English phrases like "Ok!" and "Yahoo!" after being plucked from the ground. When in a group they will sometimes sing parts of Ai no Uta in Pikmin 2. If left idle for a long time, Pikmin will moan at each other. From what is heard, it can be assumed that Pikmin language is very simple and primitive.
Pikmin can be divided into three stages. In the first of these, the Pikmin will have a leaf on their stem, which changes to a bud and then a flower as the stage increases. Leaf Pikmin are the slowest and least efficient at performing tasks, but as the stage goes up the movement speed and task efficiency increases.
Pikmin can go up in stage in several ways. The most common way is by being fed nectar. Alternately, they may be left underground before being plucked, where they will gradually mature with time, or, in Pikmin 3, they can be sprayed. When knocked to the ground in battle in Pikmin or Pikmin 2, Pikmin have a chance of losing their maturity and decreasing in stage. They will never go down in stage in Pikmin 3.
In Pikmin, if a flower Pikmin is shaken off, it will revert to a bud, and the bud will revert to a leaf in the same scenario. In Pikmin 2, however, flower Pikmin revert to leaf Pikmin immediately. Like flower Pikmin, buds can be received when leaf Pikmin are allowed to stay in the ground for a certain amount of time.
These are the types of Pikmin encountered so far in the Pikmin games.
Red Pikmin were the first species of Pikmin discovered. Their unique physical feature is their thorn-like noses. These Pikmin are fireproof and are among the types with the strongest attack power in the games they appear in.
Yellow Pikmin have large ears. Their ears seem to catch wind currents, so they soar much higher when thrown, and they were discovered in Pikmin 2 to be shockproof. They are also among the strongest diggers of all the Pikmin. According to Brittany's notes, Yellow Pikmin have a lower body density and weight compared to the other Pikmin.
As electrical hazards were not present during the development of Pikmin, Yellow Pikmin were found to be somewhat lacking in usefulness, as the ability to be thrown high was not that important in general. As a result, Yellow Pikmin became the only Pikmin capable of carrying bomb-rocks, an ability originally designed for all Pikmin types. With carriable bomb-rocks absent in Pikmin 2, the electrical resistance was added, and for Pikmin 3, all types of Pikmin became able to carry bomb-rocks.
Blue Pikmin have gills, and as such, unlike the other types, they can survive in water and are resistant to water-based attacks. In Pikmin and Pikmin 2, if thrown into water or standing idle, they will save any nearby drowning Pikmin by throwing them back to land.
Purple Pikmin are one of the subterranean species of Pikmin discovered in Pikmin 2 and are bulkier and larger than normal Pikmin. They have six wiry hairs growing out of their heads. These Pikmin can cause damage simply by being tossed on enemies (which may also stun the foes), and will actually scoot their bodies in the air to try and land on the enemy if not tossed directly above it. They can also pick up and weigh down objects with the force of 10 Pikmin, but move more slowly, even at the flower stage. In Pikmin 3, their only characteristics are their slow speed and 10-Pikmin carrying strength. Purple Pikmin have magenta flowers, and do not have an Onion in any of the main series games.
White Pikmin are another subterranean species of Pikmin discovered in Pikmin 2 which are smaller than normal Pikmin and have red eyes. These Pikmin are resistant to poison, and they seem to also be naturally poisonous, as enemies take heavy damage when they ingest White Pikmin. Their eyes seem to make it possible for them to detect things buried underground and begin to dig them up. These Pikmin are also the fastest, and carry objects much quicker than other Pikmin. In Pikmin 3, their only special traits are their faster speed and ability to poison enemies by being ingested. Like Purple Pikmin, White Pikmin have magenta flowers and lack an Onion in any of the main series games.
Rock Pikmin first appear in Pikmin 3. Unlike most Pikmin types, they do not have a humanoid appearance, but rather are shaped like an irregular hunk of rock. They have indigo flowers. Rock Pikmin are capable of causing damage to certain types of hard obstacles and enemies that cannot be damaged by other Pikmin. They are immune to being crushed or skewered. Rock Pikmin do the highest damage to an enemy if thrown, but cannot latch onto enemies and deal less damage when regularly attacking.
Winged Pikmin first appear in Pikmin 3 alongside Rock Pikmin. They are pink with large blue eyes, which are similar to those of White Pikmin, and have indigo flowers like Rock Pikmin. They possess insect-like wings, and have the ability to hover over obstacles and carry objects over water. Their attack is slightly weaker than other Pikmin and they will fly upwards when thrown; however, can only reach higher places if ordered to charge, reaching the same height as Red Pikmin when thrown normally. Winged Pikmin are immune to most ground-based attacks and enemies. However, if knocked onto the ground and stunned, they become vulnerable to said attacks.
Bulbmin are the third species of subterranean Pikmin found exclusively in Pikmin 2 and are a combination of a parasitic Pikmin and a juvenile Bulborb. They are immune to all natural hazards thanks to the Bulborb's anatomy. Although they can carry objects and flower as normal Pikmin do, they are unable to leave the caves in which they are found. The actual appearance of the parasitic Pikmin alone is unknown. These Pikmin do not make a re-appearance in Pikmin 3.
Mushroom Pikmin, or "Puffmin", are not a separate species, but rather the result of allowing Pikmin to be exposed to the spore cloud attack from a Puffstool. Pikmin affected by the cloud turn purple, grow mushrooms on their heads, and turn against Olimar and other unaffected Pikmin. Mushroom Pikmin can be cured by shaking them off Olimar, attacking one with an unaffected Pikmin, defeating the Puffstool, or simply waiting for the effect to wear off. Both Mushroom Pikmin and the Puffstool are exclusive to Pikmin.
Olimar as a Pikmin
Pikmin extinction occurs when every last Pikmin is lost. A partial extinction occurs when every Pikmin of a type is lost, while a total extinction occurs when all Pikmin are lost. How this circumstance is handled depends on the game: in the first two installments, a total extinction will end the day immediately and prompt the Onions to produce new seeds the next day, while in Pikmin 3, the Onion will produce a seed of the extinct type immediately after the last member's death. In Pikmin 2, White Pikmin and Purple Pikmin do not trigger partial extinction checks, primarily because of their unique method of propagation, and lack of Onions.
Pikmin following leaders are prone to stumbling every now and then, and occasionally fall over completely, in some of the Pikmin games. Although Pikmin don't stumble in Pikmin, they trip much more frequently which, further complicated by a mass of 100 Pikmin walking together, can sometimes pose a serious problem, reducing general maneuverability. During a retreat from a beast, a Pikmin that trips is likely to be eaten or squashed by the creature; this is especially aggravating during zero-death runs. Sometimes, it may be hard to notice if a Pikmin trips, leading to lone Pikmin becoming separated from the group.
Pikmin can be seen interacting with each other when idle. These actions include grooming each other, communicating in high pitched whimpers, waving, and playing abstract games. In Pikmin 2, if 20 of each type Pikmin is called into one group, they will hum a portion of the song Ai no Uta. This suggests that they have a highly developed and friendly social structure. Pikmin will also watch leaders move around when stationary, indicating that they are very curious creatures, and can be seen to mimic the idle motions of those leaders. All idle Pikmin have a natural tendency to perform nearby tasks, such as, for Blue Pikmin, running into water to save drowning Pikmin even if it is infested with enemies.
In Pikmin, if Pikmin are told to go in an Onion, they will follow a path to go there if they cannot make it in a straight line. This behavior is rarely seen, given that the area layouts seldom allow Pikmin to be unable to enter the Onion from a straight walk while also being under the control of a leader that is close enough to the Onion's beam. It is currently unknown if Pikmin exhibit this behavior in Pikmin 2 or Pikmin 3.
In Pikmin 3, having a group of sixty six or less Pikmin of any type and moving the cursor around the Pikmin or around the group will make some Pikmin look at the cursor, although this may just be aesthetic. For Winged Pikmin, this only works if they are walking. Interestingly, leaders do not display this behavior.
Likeliness to die
In Pikmin and Pikmin 2, some Pikmin are more likely to die than others, due to engine limitations. It boils down to how the games check which Pikmin should die for any given attack. In Pikmin 3 and Hey! Pikmin, although it isn't clear, it seems that the Pikmin closest to the center of the attack are the ones that get hit by it.
The general idea is that each game keeps a list of loaded Pikmin in memory. This list can fit 100 entries, and normally, it starts off empty. When a Pikmin is loaded into memory, it fills in the next vacant slot. In the case of an empty list, this is slot 0. The second Pikmin to be called out fills slot 1, and so on. When an enemy attacks to eat, the game checks every loaded Pikmin to see if it is colliding with the mouth's hitbox, and starts checking slot 0, then slot 1, etc.
This behavior is also used for other enemy-related actions, like a Fiery Blowhog deciding whether to change targets or to keep the current one, in Pikmin.
Suppose that a day starts, 100 Pikmin are taken out from Onions, and they are all bundled together within reach of a Red Bulborb's bite hitbox, which is an attack that will only chomp 5 Pikmin. The game will check the Pikmin in slot 0, confirm that it is within reach, and add it to the list of eating victims. It would then check slot 1, confirm that that one is as well, and add it. It would check slot 2, confirm that as well, and add it. It would do the same for slots 3 and 4. At this point, since it already added 5 Pikmin to the list of eating victims, it would stop checking, and would let the Bulborb's attack finish with those 5 Pikmin captured in its mouth. In this case, the five Pikmin that fell victim to the attack were the first five ones that got pulled out of the Onions. This means that, when starting a day normally, the first Pikmin that left the Onion are more likely to get eaten.
Cases with no "first" Pikmin
In Pikmin, if the player lands on an area with buried Pikmin, those Pikmin are actually not a part of the list of Pikmin, but rather, a list of seeds. A Pikmin is only created and added to the list when it is plucked.
In the case of Pikmin 2, this scenario happens when a cave sublevel is entered, when the player exits a cave and lands on an overworld area along with the Pikmin that escaped, or when the player enters an area that already has buried Pikmin. The Pikmin here are all truly loaded outside of the player's control. The game does however follow an algorithm to decide how to place Pikmin in the area and to fill in the Pikmin list slots:
Internally, Pikmin types are declared with Blue Pikmin first. Then comes Red, Yellow, Purple, White, Bulbmin, and Pikpik carrot. The reasons for this seemingly random order are not known for certain. However, it is possible that a discovery order of Blue→Red→Yellow was planned during development for Pikmin, due to Blue Pikmin being the primary type shown off in old trailers. So regardless, in scenarios where the game has to load multiple Pikmin of different types "at once", Blue Pikmin will be loaded first, meaning they will fill in the first Pikmin slots. If players find themselves in one of these scenarios then Blue Pikmin will be more likely to be eaten, since hitboxes that catch multiple Pikmin will pick the Blue Pikmin first.
To note is that if the player lands in a sublevel with Bulbmin that can be collected after the parent is killed, then those Bulbmin have a higher priority than any of the Pikmin that the player had. After they are added to the player's group and the player heads to the next sublevel, the order of the group returns to the standard order stated above.
Captain Olimar named these creatures "Pikmin" because of their resemblance to a vegetable he eats in Hocotate, the pikpik carrots. The word "Pikmin" is never written with a lowercase "P", and the plural is still written as "Pikmin". Interestingly, some parts of some games do not capitalize the word that defines the type of Pikmin, but capitalize the word "Pikmin" itself, whereas others might capitalize both words. For instance, Olimar's voyage log may write "red Pikmin", while Alph and Brittany's dialogues might have the text "Red Pikmin"..
The game was named after the Pikmin. Sometimes, Pikmin are also referred to as "piki", especially internally inside a game's files, as proven by the Honeywisp's Japanese name being ピキマキ? (lit.: "Piki Maki (Pikmin Fuel)"), the term "piki park" in animtest, and the folder
Names in other languages
In Super Smash Bros. Melee
The Pikmin appear as a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Super Smash Bros. series