Pikmin 3 accessibility review

Josh Straub4 minute read

Pikmin 3 is one of the big blockbuster Wii U exclusives coming out, and it is getting glowing reviews from all around the industry. People are loving its gorgeous visuals, charming characters, and addicting, fun, and polished gameplay. Players play as tiny space explorers who use an army of pikmin to collect fruit and stave off starvation. However, this is one apple that disabled gamers won’t even get a bite of.

To begin with, the game is heavily reliant on both color and fine detail to communicate important things. With the exception of one or two new types of pikmin that look different from the original cast, all of the pikmin are color coded using bright primary colors and have few perceivable physical differences. This means that if a player cannot distinguish between the three primary colors, they will be completely at a loss in this title, since it’s very important that you send the right pikmin to do each task. For instance, if a player sends a wave of blue waterproof pikmin into an electric fence trying to disable it, they are liable to end up with nothing more than a bunch of dead pikmin. What they should have done is send yellow pikmin instead. But without the ability to see color, it is not clear how the player could do this. The reliance on color doesn’t end with the pikmin themselves, though. There are certain color-coded objects that can only be picked up by certain types of pikmin. These too are color coded, making the game even more visually inaccessible for the sight impaired. To make matters worse, the pikmin are incredibly tiny, and the camera controls on the Wii U gamepad are imprecise. The size issue means that the game requires players to see fine detail, and the controls mean that there’s no easy way to maneuver the camera around to see what is needed.

The game doesn’t do any better when it comes to its fine motor accessibility. To be honest, I was not able to progress past the first three hours of the game due to the one thing that even non-disabled gamers are noticing: the game’s incredibly sensitive controls. People are saying the game is easier to play with a nunchuck and Wii remote. But since those controllers are no more accessible for most gamers with fine motor disabilities, I guess we’re just out of luck. Problems arise at virtually every turn in this game due to its controls. Targeting stationary enemies is hard enough when the controls are liable to overshoot your target with anything more than the slightest tap. Make the target moving, and it becomes almost impossible. Beyond that, it gets even worse when micro-managing the pikmin. For me, there was only one method that worked: commanding all the pikmin at once. In a game which demands that you multitask, this is not a winning strategy. Combine that with the fact that every level is timed and that any pikmin not back to the ship before the sun goes down get eaten, and the game becomes even harder, especially given the fact that if a player doesn’t collect enough fruit juice in a level to feed their crew, they lose the game. All the time playing Pikmin 3, I felt like I was attempting to juggle razor blades with a fine motor disability. Not pretty.

The only group of gamers that the game is reasonably accessible for are those with auditory disabilities. In fact, hearing impaired gamers should have no problem with this game whatsoever, because nothing important in this game is communicated solely by sound. And, similar to other first party Nintendo titles like Legend of Zelda, there is no voice acting of any kind—unless you count the high-pitched alien language of the explorers and pikmin.

On the whole, Pikmin 3 has some serious problems. Unless you have a hearing disability, don’t bother with it, because players with every other type of physical disability would just get frustrated with Pikmin 3 if they tried to player it.

Overall Rating: Partially Accessible
Visual Rating: Inaccessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Inaccessible
Auditory Rating: Barrier Free
GameInformer Score: 9.00

The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Pikmin 3


-The art style is cartoony and easy to see, except in some crucial areas.

– Must be able to see color.
– Must be able to distinguish fine detail.

Fine Motor


– No controller customization.
– Very imprecise controls when using the standard controller.
– Time is a huge factor in this game.
– Precision is a huge factor in this game.


– Nothing relies on sound.
– The game is fully subtitled due to its lack of any intelligible voice dialogue.


This article has been transferred from DAGERSystem (now AbilityPoints). Scores, formatting, and writing style may differ from original CIPT content.

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