Throwing is one of the main ways of giving instructions to Pikmin, the others being swarming, dismissing and charging. The player can aim where the thrown Pikmin land at, by use of the cursor, and if a Pikmin lands near a task, it will begin working on it; it will remain idle on the spot, otherwise. If a Pikmin hits an enemy during its flight, it will latch on to it, if it can, and begin attacking. To throw, the current leader must be close to a Pikmin on their party, and the player must press / , on the first two games, / / / in Pikmin 3 with the normal controls, or by tapping on the screen with stylus controls.
Pikmin are thrown upwards at an arc, leaving spark particles through their trajectory. The cursor estimates the landing location of a thrown Pikmin, but if there is a wall or object in the way, the Pikmin might bump into it and fall short. This is only true in the first two games, as Pikmin 3's cursor takes into account walls and obstacles, and the line connecting it to the leader changes to a preview arc. One of the traits Yellow Pikmin possess is the ability to be thrown higher than other types. This allows them to reach ledges otherwise unreachable. The throw arc of Purple Pikmin is slightly different from the rest: they are thrown faster than the others, so that the apex of their jump is located somewhere above the cursor. When the cursor is reached, the Pikmin loses its horizontal momentum and drops down with a great impact. Besides homing in on enemies, when landing, they cause high damage and can also cause the creatures to bounce up, making them unable to move for less than a second, or stun them altogether for a few seconds. Winged Pikmin can be thrown, though they will not land on the ground like the other Pikmin types do. If a Winged Pikmin is thrown near an enemy, the Pikmin will fly towards the enemy and attempt to latch on.
Interestingly, flower Pikmin twirl after they reach the apex of a throw arc in Pikmin and Pikmin 2, and this results in them falling slower. It also results in the Pikmin losing some horizontal momentum, and ending up closer to the leader compared to a leaf or bud. Purple Pikmin, regardless of maturity, do a pound instead and no twirl.
In Pikmin 3, leaders can also be thrown. Unlike Pikmin, leaders are unable to latch on to enemies and will always remain idle (unless they are near an enemy, at which point they panic and run around in circles). The trajectory that leaders are thrown through is noticeably lower than the arc of a Pikmin; this is likely to prevent exploits by throwing leaders up to an otherwise inaccessible area.
The next Pikmin type to be thrown will be shown on the HUD. This reflects the type of the Pikmin closest to the leader in the GameCube games and their Wii rereleases, but is chosen by the player in Pikmin 3; the type can be toggled with / / , and leaders are one of the choices. In all games, Pikmin carrying bomb rocks and mines have their own groups.
In all games besides Pikmin 3, Blue Pikmin can also throw drowning Pikmin: if an idle Blue Pikmin finds a drowning Pikmin nearby, it will grab it, carry it near the surface, and throw it to solid terrain. Should the ledge be too high up, it is possible that the Pikmin won't make it to dry land, fall back into the water, and be thrown again, in an endless cycle. At least in Pikmin 2, a Blue Pikmin's rescue throw is the same as a normal leader throw, which means it can be used to crush Dwarf Red Bulborbs, for instance. In Pikmin 2's 2-Player Battle mode, leaders can also grab and throw bomb-rocks.
In Pikmin 3, leaders and Pikmin cannot be thrown while standing on an enemy corpse. This is likely to prevent the player from going out of bounds by using the corpse to reach higher, normally inaccessible areas.
Before throwing, it is possible to hold on to a Pikmin/leader by keeping the button pressed. While held on, the Pikmin or leader will make a sound indicating that they are ready to be thrown; in Pikmin 2, this sound is repeated several times with varying pitches, until thrown. The leader can move around with a party member in their hand, which can be useful if one wishes to bring a single slow Pikmin with them. In Pikmin and Pikmin 2, when a Pikmin is being held on to, all other Pikmin in the group will be organized by type, so that those of the type of the currently held Pikmin are at the front of the line – this allows the leader to throw several of the same type of Pikmin in a row.
While holding, it is also possible to swap the currently held Pikmin/leader for one of a different type in the party, if available. In New Play Control! Pikmin, Pikmin 2 and New Play Control! Pikmin 2, / swaps the Pikmin type, while in Pikmin 3, / / must be pressed; in this game, the thrown type can also be swapped without the leader holding on to anything, as stated above. Pikmin on the GameCube lacks this feature entirely. In Pikmin 2 and the two New Play Control! remakes, / can also be used to swap for a different maturity in the same Pikmin type.
In New Play Control! Pikmin, if the Nunchuk stick is slightly moved while Captain Olimar is holding a Pikmin, Olimar will start facing the cursor, which will cause the Pikmin to follow behind where he's facing.
The leader cannot perform any of the following actions while holding a Pikmin:
While it is not possible to swarm, the player can make it thinner and longer by holding in any direction, in the GameCube games. In New Play Control! Pikmin, holding will make the cursor flash to indicate a swarm, but the Pikmin will stay in their place regardless. In New Play Control! Pikmin 2, nothing happens if one attempts to swarm while holding.
Interestingly, any held Pikmin in Pikmin 3 cannot be killed. If an enemy attacks (just) the Pikmin, it will squeal, but nothing else will happen to it. It will also not be affected by hazards, except water.
In Pikmin, a mechanic goes unused that possibly explains why Pikmin make a sound while held. By holding onto a Pikmin for longer, the throw height climbs to a second value found in the game's parameters. Because the parameter is identical to the base throw height, however, the mechanic does essentially nothing, unless the values are changed. The climbing of the throw height finishes around the same time as the end of the noise a Pikmin makes while being held. The parameters also exist in Pikmin 2, though the code to change the height is gone.
Some Pikmin throws perform special actions, instead of making the Pikmin work on a task or latch on to something.
Under normal circumstances, when the leader presses the throw button with Pikmin nearby, the closest Pikmin will move from its spot towards the leader's hand, where it can then be thrown. This delay varies between games, but it normally makes it so that a player who wants to throw several Pikmin quickly can only throw three or four per second, while mashing the throw button in Pikmin. In Pikmin 2, this delay is shorter, but relevant all the same.
The closer the Pikmin is to the leader, the shorter this delay is. By using the swarming function, one can move the Pikmin so that they are constantly around the leader. While doing this, the throw button can then be pressed repeatedly and quickly in order to throw Pikmin at a much faster pace.
For the GameCube games, it is relatively simple: after setting the cursor on the intended location, the player can move one digit to (such as the left or right thumb) and another to (like the right thumb or right index). The player can then mash and tilt so that the group is always near the leader. Due to the way swarming works in the New Play Control! games, this is a harder task in those games. moves the Pikmin towards the cursor, which should be pointing at the enemy or ledge. The Pikmin are on the opposite side from the leader, so in order to keep them close, the player must press in short spurts, so that the Pikmin are neither too far ahead or behind.
The method for the New Play Control! games is quite a lot harder than the GameCube way, as it is harder to position the fingers so that both and can be pressed, especially without releasing the Nunchuk; it is also hard to maintain a steady cursor while two fingers are pressing on the Wii Remote repeatedly. Finally, it is hard to maintain two different button rhythms at once. As such, an alternate strategy is normally used instead. Because the leader can move independently of the cursor, the latter can be held on the target, and the player can focus on moving the leader through the group. Care should be taken in order to keep the cursor from deviating from its intended place, though. One way to stop the cursor from leaving its spot on the screen is to place the Nunchuk hand's wrist in front of the Wii Remote's sensor.
In Pikmin 3, a Pikmin of the standby type will instantly move towards the leader's hand.
Longer throw trick
In Pikmin and Pikmin 2 on the GameCube, if the leader is moving while throwing the Pikmin, the leader's speed is added to the Pikmin throw's speed. Hence, if a leader is running forward while throwing a Pikmin in the same direction, it will land much farther than normal. This trick can be used to throw Pikmin to places where they were not meant to reach. An example would be over the cardboard box at the southwest of The Forest of Hope, throwing Pikmin from the western side over the box and on to the eastern side, where they can push it without the need for Blue Pikmin on the nearby lakes.
In the New Play Control! versions, this trick is not necessary, nor does it work: the leader's momentum is not carried over, otherwise the player would not be able to accurately throw Pikmin all around while moving, which is one of the new control scheme's biggest advantages. In these games, the throw distance limit has been raised, compared to the GameCube games, which allows for naturally longer throws that can permit the same exploits as those in the original games.
High ledge glitch
By using the aforementioned trick to throw at longer distances, one can make non-Yellow Pikmin reach ledges they shouldn't be able to normally. This glitch is only possible in Pikmin and Pikmin 2, as well as the Wii remakes.
With the added distance of the trick comes added throw strength, which, when used towards a wall, can be enough to propel the Pikmin high enough to reach a high ledge. The Pikmin must scrape the wall a bit during the ascending part of their jump in order to make it. The exact amount of contact with the wall depends, and some surfaces (especially when they aren't perfectly vertical) work better than others. In Pikmin 2, Purple Pikmin are especially more likely to make it up high ledges.
In the New Play Control! versions, the cursor must be placed so that it is at the longest possible distance or beyond. This gives the throw enough force to perform the glitch.
Escorting a few Pikmin
If the player must bring a single Pikmin with them, having the leader carry the Pikmin on their hand is a safe and fast way to bring the Pikmin to the destination. This is particularly useful with slow Pikmin.
If the player needs a small amount of Pikmin (around five), it can be faster to repeatedly throw them ahead all in a row while moving forward, and whistling them back to the leader. This keeps them always ahead of the player's character, instead of staying behind and risking lagging. This is easier if the control scheme allows the cursor to be moved independently from the leader. Once again, this is more helpful when used with slow Pikmin.
Throwing Pikmin higher or further
Interestingly, there are a few ways to throw Pikmin even higher or further, in New Play Control! Pikmin and New Play Control! Pikmin 2. It depends on the type and the way the Pikmin is thrown. The following tricks do not have any know uses at the moment, however. Also, they do not work in Pikmin nor Pikmin 2, only the Wii remakes.
Pikmin 3's data includes a parameter file with the throw height value for each Pikmin and leader, in plain English. This file can be found in
In other games
In the Super Smash Bros. series
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, Olimar's forward-special move is called "Pikmin Throw". When used, the next Pikmin in line is grabbed and instantly thrown forward, where it may land on the ground and rejoin the group some seconds later, or latch onto an opponent, where it will cause damage until it falls off. The type of Pikmin determines the damage caused and the throw arc. Yellow Pikmin are thrown at a higher arc, Purple Pikmin are thrown a very short distance, and White Pikmin are thrown very fast and far. Red Pikmin cause strong fire damage, Yellow Pikmin cause electrical moderate damage, Blue Pikmin cause regular damage and White Pikmin cause high poison damage. Purple Pikmin do not latch on, but instead, knock the opponent away.
In Pikmin Adventure
Only the Olimar player can throw Pikmin in Pikmin Adventure. When they have a Pikmin nearby, they will grab it and toss it right away. To toss a Pikmin, the player must tap on the target on the GamePad. If the Mii Pikmin are stacked atop the leader, they can be thrown one by one by the latter.