Red Bulborbs (アカチャッピー?, lit.: "Red Chappy") are among the most well-known enemies in the Pikmin games and are often just as much a staple for the games as Pikmin themselves, getting a lot of exposure via marketing and spin-off media. They were originally known as Spotty Bulborbs until various other subspecies, all with spots, were discovered in Pikmin 2. In Pikmin 3 and Hey! Pikmin, it is simply named Bulborb.
In most games, this nocturnal creature will sleep out in the open, exposing itself to Pikmin attacks. Bulborbs are generally surprisingly apathetic creatures and won't arise from their sleep even if one of their own is under attack. That being said, however, Dwarf Bulborbs in Pikmin will let out a screech when agitated, awaking any nearby Bulborbs.
Swarming it with a large group of 50 or so Pikmin, preferably Reds due to their high attack power, proves quite effective. If only a few Pikmin are available, they should be thrown onto the Bulborb's back repeatedly while retreating if the enemy starts charging at them. Waiting until it goes back to sleep takes longer, but is a lot safer. If bomb-rocks are used, the Bulborb will die with two blasts. If you attack its back it will usually do a quarter-turn right, hiding some of its back from your current position.
Rather than swarming it, continuously tossing Pikmin onto its back is preferable when the army is at least 30 Pikmin strong, even if some are shaken off. A few Purple Pikmin can cause serious damage, especially if they stun the Bulborb. If it is accidentally awakened before being attacked by Pikmin, you should run away until it turns around, then make a new pass at it.
If the Pikmin army is very small, the creature can also be woken up and made to chase the leader until it leaves its territory, at which point it will turn around and return to its original sleeping spot. At this point, the player must follow it and wait for it to reach its spot. Once there it will yawn, fall asleep, then wake up and attack again if provoked. Beginning the attack at the moment the creature yawns provides the player with a few crucial seconds in which the Bulborb is entirely immobilized and harmless.
In some metallic themed caves, Red Bulborbs can be led off of the stage by awakening it and quickly running around a hole in the sublevel, causing it to fall off.
The first game's tactic of swarming the creature from behind returns in this game, though here it is far more effective. If the Pikmin charge at the creature's behind, they will flawlessly cling to it and continue attacking as it rises, making 20 Red Pikmin enough to take it down before it has any chance of resistance.
If it is awake, repeatedly throw Pikmin at its eyes, even when it's shaking in pain, and whistle them when they scatter around and you end up low on Pikmin to throw. You can also escape from a Red Bulborb by hiding under a tall plant.
Olimar starts the fight with 20 Red Pikmin. The objective is to deplete the Bulborb's health by throwing Pikmin at its backside. If the Bulborb is facing towards Olimar, then wait for it to bend over and throw a Pikmin at its eye. This will stun it and give you time to run under it to the other side. Once on the other side, proceed to throw the Pikmin onto its vulnerable backside until it shakes them off. The Bulborb will periodically jump into the blades of grass in the backdrop and shuffle around in them until eventually popping back out at the last place Olimar was standing. The player can tell when it will jump out because right before it does it will rustle in a single place. If the Bulborb is attacked once it has shaken off any attacking Pikmin, then it'll slowly turn around to face the group, snarling aggressively, before swooping around once in a circle, attempting to snatch up any Pikmin. After it does this, it'll proceed to do its attack from the grass.
Red Bulborbs are among the creatures with the most diverse physiology in the Pikmin series. They possess traits similar to those of amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. They have large bulbous eyes, as opposed to the compound eyes of most insects.
Olimar mentions the Red Bulborbs having a set of mandibles. Mandibles are a pair of appendages near an insect's mouth, used for grinding and chewing food. The so-called mandibles Olimar mentions in his notes look nothing like normal mandibles and are instead most likely saber-teeth, used for breaking exoskeletons of prey insects and digging through the soil for roots. (That being said, "mandible" is also a technical term for the jaws, in which case its use is unremarkable.) Their diet is, however, quite the mystery, as they are equipped with eating both animal and vegetable life, but they are known to fully ignore Spectralids.
It seems that the juvenile Red Bulborb is the favored host of the parasitic Pikmin known as Bulbmin. This type of Pikmin appears to control its host, causing the animal to behave less like a Bulborb and much more like a Pikmin, following a leader (which is naturally an older Bulbmin) and hunting in packs. Red Bulborbs are not observed at the two stages of development displayed by Bulbmin anywhere else in-game (unlike the Spotty Bulbear), so it is unknown whether Bulbmin are a common stage in Red Bulborb initial development or not, as symbiotic cooperation from the parasite would give this slightly weaker form of Grub-dog an advantage in the subterranean environment that all stages of the Red Bulborb species are found in.
Bulborbs were created before the concept for Pikmin was established. When Adam and Eve was being worked on, the Red Bulborb had been created to serve as a mammoth-like beast. When the concept for the game was scrapped, the Bulborbs were reused for Pikmin. As clued by the internal name for this enemy and the Dwarf Red Bulborb, the Dwarf Red Bulborb may have very well been the original Bulborb, and the Red Bulborb was created afterward in development. Although the "mammoth" properties of the beast, as mentioned by Shigeru Miyamoto, suggest that the first "Bulborb" creature to be developed was large, and hence, not the Dwarf Red Bulborb.
Their name in Pikmin is "Spotty Bulborb", and at this point, only one type of Bulborb was planned to exist (besides the false variations of Bulborb, the Dwarf Bulborbs). For Pikmin 2, it was decided that further types of Bulborb would be developed, but because they would all be Bulborbs and have spots on their backs, the original one needed a rename. Due to it being red while the others are orange and hairy, the name "Red Bulborb" was given to this enemy.
In the New Play Control! remake of Pikmin, their sounds were changed to be much higher-pitched, although this is likely an oversight.
For Pikmin 3, perhaps with the purpose to simplify things, its name became known simply as "Bulborb", despite two other types of Bulborb existing in the game: the Orange Bulborb and the Whiptongue Bulborb. In an attempt to flesh out this iconic enemy, its behavior was made slightly more complex in this game, in the form of it reacting to Pikmin thrown at its eyes with a flinch, and by looking at Pikmin while it chases them. These behaviors also happen with the other Bulborbs.
“This nocturnal hunter feeds mostly on small animals returning to their nests at night.”
“This large organism has the familiar mandibles and cranial morphology of the grub-dog family, as well as the characteristic bulging eyes. As with most grub-dogs, the creature's cranium comprises half of its total length and girth. Showing a scarlet abdomen with white spots, this creature is primarily nocturnal, choosing to prey upon smaller creatures returning to their nests. Originally classified as the spotty bulborb, further research has reclassified this species as the red bulborb. Subspecies of varied colors have recently been discovered, but academics are divided into two rival camps over how to handle their classification.”
“Plump specimens are best spit-roasted whole, stuffed with a lime and a slab of bacon. Baste frequently to ensure a magnificently moist haunch.”
Olimar's voyage log
“The most plentiful species on the planet, they are quite ferocious despite their appearance, using their massive jaws to swallow Pikmin whole. Frontal assaults result in disaster; attacks from behind are more successful. Attacking their legs is also effective.”
Hey! Pikmin logs
“The S.S. Dolphin II said it sleeps during the day, but the one I met was awake. I pointed this out and the ship said, "I meant during the day on Hocotate." After defeating it, we found an object rich in Sparklium. It's possible that the creature considers such objects a delicacy.”
Pikmin 3 Nintendo Player's Guide
“The weakest of the larger Bulborbs, the Red Bulborb can still hold its own against a good-sized Pikmin squad. Since it is a nocturnal species, most of the Red Bulborbs that you encounter in the daytime will be asleep to start. Sneak up on them from behind and hit them with a stream of flying Pikmin.”
Pikmin 3 website
“It's considered one of the weakest of the Bulborbs, but can still hold its own against a good-sized Pikmin squad. Attack from behind to gain the advantage. Weakest point: eyeballs.”
Pikmin 3 Prima Guide
“These large creatures use their jaws to gobble up several Pikmin with each bite. Whenever possible, use a large squad of Pikmin to charge the creature from the rear. If brute force isn’t an option, throw Red Pikmin and Rock Pikmin onto the creature’s back. During an extended battle, it’s important to retrieve your Pikmin as the Bulborb shakes them off.”
In the Super Smash Bros. series
A Red Bulborb is the main stage hazard on the Distant Planet stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It is considerably larger than a Bulborb in the Pikmin series, and will periodically appear on the right side of the stage. It occasionally opens its mouth, and any fighters that fall in will be eaten and taken away, resulting in a KO.
In the Smash Run mode of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, a Red Bulborb appears as one of many enemies featured in the mode. It is one of the largest enemies in the game and has a comparable amount of knockback resistance. Its attacks are also deadly, KOing fighters with minimal effort.
A Red Bulborb also appears in the background of the Garden of Hope stage in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Ultimate, but its purpose is merely cosmetic. There is a sticker for a Red Bulborb in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but it is merely called "Bulborb".
Smash 4 trophy
Names in other languages