Olimar is the protagonist of the Pikmin series, but he is conspicuously absent from the fourth game in it. His presence is still felt, but instead of being in control of our favorite round-nosed captain, we are instead looking for him at the beginning of the game along with the other castaways who have found themselves on an alien planet that is definitely not Earth.
As you probably guessed from the title, this important story contains spoilers for Pikmin 4, so if you want to go completely fresh into the game, we recommend clicking away now. Otherwise, you can play as Olimar as Olimar and unlock his gameplay segments in Pikmin 4.
Technically, you can play the first five minutes of gameplay as Olimar as he is looking for parts for his ship. Unfortunately, after this very short segment, you are separated from him while taking on the role of your own custom character and can’t think about playing as him again until you complete the main mission to track him down. You do this by playing the game essentially by collecting enough sparklium until you unlock the Hero’s Hideaway area.
Once there, you’ll see a vault on top of a shelf as you head northeast from your base. The vault requires a combination, one you need to pick up as you progress through the game. For us it was 851, but this will change from game to game, so it’s something each player has to figure out for themselves. Falling and getting up can work wonders, and there doesn’t seem to be a limit to the number of attempts you can make, because opening this vault is the key to continuing the story.
With the vault open, you are greeted by a Leafling, one of the castaways who has contracted a disease that gives them leaves all over their faces and wipes out most of their memories. There, the Leafling challenges you to a Dandori Battle and claims to be the Captain Olimar. At this point, you should be used to facing this red Leafling with big nose, as it has appeared in multiple areas and challenges you to see who can grab the most loot within the given time limit. You’ve also probably already guessed that this Leafling is Olimar, so it wasn’t such a shock to hear him declare it. Head down the tunnel after the Leafling and the green rescue pup that followed him, and you’ll encounter your toughest Dandori challenge yet. Fortunately, you get to use a Secret Bomb in this mission, which can give you a big advantage, as long as you get there before your opponent does. Whichever way you choose to defeat the Leafling, once it is done, he will faint in pure awe of your Dandori ability, just like the other Leaflings in the game. From there, all you have to do is grab him and put him on the S.S. Beagle. Oh, also make sure you have some of the Leafling cure with you, whether you get it ahead of time from a Night Expedition, or do so after you spend the day exploring Hero’s Hideaway.
After saving Olimar and coming to your senses, you have completed the “main story” of Pikmin 4 and are treated to the concluding cutscene next to the credits. Before you can complete your expedition for good, however, you must return to the alien world to complete a final part of your mission, which we won’t spoil here. Once you have returned to base camp after the credits, Olimar will ask you to talk to him.
There he will tell you about his time before he was a Leafling, and ask if you would like to hear his Shipwreck Tales. If you agree, you then switch to playing as Olimar in the new game mode Olimar’s Shipwreck Tales. This is the only segment where you fully play as the Pikmin protagonist and are treated to some more traditional mechanics. For example, you start with only one onion and a capacity of 20 Pikmin. You also have a hard 15-day time limit to collect as many ship parts as you can.
So, there you have it. It’s pretty easy to play as Olimar, because you basically just have to keep playing the main story and then make sure you talk to him before you leave and continue your missions after the credits roll. You can jump in and out of Shipwreck Tales at any time, so when you’re looking for a little Pikmin nostalgia, you can control the old Captain Olimar again.