Zero death challenge
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A zero death challenge (also called a no-death run) is where one tries to complete one of the Pikmin games without losing any Pikmin whatsoever. This can be very difficult, even for skilled players. However, there are a few methods that can make this formidable task easier, as listed below. Although it is usually done in the main games, it's still possible to finish the challenge in Hey! Pikmin and Pikmin Adventure. These games will probably offer the player a very different experience, due to their gameplay being separated in very small areas and levels, each with its own Pikmin.
The Pikmin games were designed with Pikmin death in mind; primarily during tough battles. The Pikmin by themselves are extremely frail, and even the simplest, weakest enemies like dwarf bulborbs can kill a Pikmin or two very quickly if they go unnoticed, especially during more hectic scenes, or if you have a very large squad following you. Be prepared to reset if even a single Pikmin dies, and accept that it may take multiple tries to complete a sublevel or defeat a boss enemy without casualties.
Take your time
Especially in the first game, where enemies are typically much harder to beat due to generally higher enemy health points, the absence of Purple Pikmin, and several glitches (like the crushing glitch) that can kill Pikmin through no fault of your own. You absolutely must take your time; even the smallest mistake can lead to casualties. Learn about the enemy types, and learn how they attack the Pikmin and the Leaders so you can safely navigate away from their attacks. Patience is vital when fighting difficult enemies like the Beady Long Legs and Emperor Bulblax, or the likes of the Titan Dweevil in Pikmin 2.
Even if only one of your Pikmin dies, reset the day or cave sublevel. The fastest way is press the "RESET" button on your console or select "Reset" from the Wii's Home Menu. Alternately, press the "POWER" button and restart the system, or hold + + . This is especially useful in caves, where your progress is saved between every sublevels, meaning you will lose very little progress should you restart. In Pikmin, you can pause the game and select "Continue from Last Save" to reset the day's progress and go back to the saved game selection; this can also be done at the end of the day in both Pikmin and Pikmin 2 after selecting "Don't Save" when prompted. Similarly, in Pikmin 3, you can pause and select "Restart Area" to return to the start of the day.
Some enemies are challenging to beat without a large onslaught, so take the strongest forces of Pikmin you can muster, and use them correctly. In Pikmin 2, you should always try and defeat enemies with Purple Pikmin whenever possible, because of their immense power and stunning potential. In Pikmin 3, Rock Pikmin have immense throwing power and can often overpower enemies when thrown en masse, as well as being immune to crushing. In the first game, there are also a number of alternative, safer ways to defeat enemies, such as using bomb-rocks, or failing that, punching them with Olimar to weaken or kill them first.
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There are some tricks and strategies that allow you to control the Pikmin more effectively. Learning these could be the key to a death-free day. The following tricks are recommended:
- Faster throw trick – by using while throwing, you can remove the delay between each Pikmin toss, allowing you to throw Pikmin at a faster rate.
- Double sprays glitch – by having an idle leader absorb a spray drop, and quickly having the current leader absorb it as well, two doses can be obtained from a single drop.
- Digging speeds – learning what types of Pikmin are the most and least effective at digging out objects can allow the player to leave fewer Pikmin work on a task or gain time.
- Carrying – White Pikmin are the fastest Pikmin: as such, they have fewer chances of being killed by an enemy. In Pikmin 3, Winged Pikmin carrying an object cannot be noticed by enemies, which makes them the best choice for retrieving things most of the time. Just make sure you've taken out any Arachnodes in the way first, lest the Winged Pikmin be killed in transit.
- Preemptive whistling – Calling the Pikmin off of an enemy before the enemy has the opportunity to shake them off saves them from being staggered and knocked down onto the floor, preventing them from being vulnerable or even getting deflowered. This can be useful against enemies with high enough health where it isn't possible to defeat them instantly by just overwhelming them with Pikmin.
While the enemies that lurk on the main paths should always be dispatched, many enemies near parts and treasures that are on the road less traveled don't always have to be killed. Most enemies will follow a leader with or without Pikmin, so use one of them to distract an enemy while the Pikmin slip by them with ship parts, treasures, or fruits. In the first game, Olimar cannot be harmed while lying down, making him perfect for distracting powerful enemies like Spotty Bulbears.
Don't overburden yourself
Although it may make the next few days a little easier, killing all the enemies in the level or trying to kill multiple bosses in one day will likely result in multiple resets and frustration. While ending the day often will provide you with more chances to save your progress, and thus grant more leniency for resets, this should not be relied on; stronger enemies begin appearing in the Perplexing Pool after day 30 in the second game, and the first and third games have day limits, where taking too long will result in a game over.
The leaders' punch can kill most non-boss enemies rather efficiently, especially after recovering the Brute Knuckles and unlocking the Rocket Fist in the second game. It is entirely possible for the two leaders to clean out entire sublevels while placing the Pikmin in no direct harm. While Olimar can heal himself in the first game by interacting with the S.S Dolphin, the leaders in Pikmin 2 are not given this luxury, requiring care to be taken when battling with just the leaders, lest one of them go down. To note is that the leader's punch in Pikmin 3 was severely weakened, making fighting enemies alone a large waste of time.
Leaders can also be sent to scour the entire sublevel and trigger any falling bomb-rocks or Volatile Dweevils before they endanger the Pikmin, although keep in mind this strategy will not trigger bomb-rocks set to spawn after a treasure is picked up.
Know your enemies
Attempting a zero death challenge isn't a good idea during your first shot at the game – all of the games are quite difficult simply to complete, let alone without casualties – but don't senselessly sacrifice your Pikmin either; rather, study what the enemies and hazards of the Pikmin games do and look for exploits, easier ways to dodge their attacks, and ways to defeat them. Some enemy attacks can harm or kill other enemies, such as the Yellow Wollywogs "ground-pound", and notably in the second game, Decorated Cannon Beetle boulders. Many of the guides here can help you in learning about the enemies, but only by playing the game can you gain experience.
In the second game, sprays are acceptably common, doubly so if you use the spray glitch mentioned above. Do not be afraid to use an ultra-bitter spray to defeat an enemy like a Fiery Bulblax, even if you need to spend an extra day at the Perplexing Pool or the Valley of Repose in order to obtain more. Ultra-spicy sprays are not as helpful in comparison, but can still be used to defeat a boss enemy faster in a pinch.
Sprays can be farmed rather efficiently in the second game and the third game if you know where to go and what to do. The ever-valuable ultra-bitter sprays can be easily farmed on the Frontier Cavern's first sublevel, as it has three Doodlebugs, which give two bitter sprays each if hit all three times, adding up to six bitter sprays (twelve if you use the spray duplication glitch) per trip. Spicy sprays can easily be obtained by spending a little time near the Awakening Wood's Spiderworts and hunting down flint beetles.
In the third and fourth games, Pikmin can be assigned to a Spiderwort, and will spend the rest of the day harvesting them unless they encounter resistance or are whistled at. Assigning 5 Pikmin to two or three Spiderworts will provide you with a good number of sprays per day, allowing you to power your army up more often during dangerous moments. However, you must note that Pikmin assigned to Spiderworts will not stop harvesting berries until specifically called back, and are exceedingly easy to leave behind at sunset as a result.
The items that Russ sells at Rescue Command HQ can be instrumental in preventing Pikmin losses. So long as items are bought with caution and raw materials are always properly allocated for whatever structures need building, the player should have a surplus of raw materials to spend.
In particular, the Homesick Signal or Idler's Alert can be wise purchases if the player has a hard time collecting stray Pikmin; they can be used at any time to give them new tasks or prevent leaving them behind. They should be used carefully, however, as the paths Pikmin take while heading for the signals can lead them into danger.
Use Glow Pikmin where possible
Glow Pikmin, on top of being immune to most hazards, are not counted against the player when lost. This is especially helpful in caves, which are one of two environments Glow Pikmin are restricted to (the other being night missions).