Enlarge / Run for your life! And also the lives of those adorable Pikmin!

When it comes down to it, most video games are elaborate exercises in time management. Every time you fail a tough challenge in a game, you don’t just lose in-game resources (lives, items, stats, physical progress on the map, etc.); you also lose the real-world time you put into that attempt.

The hours you put into a game are the only truly irreplaceable resource you’re putting at risk. And you don’t have to be a professional speedrunner to want to spend that time wisely. That usually means getting through the game’s challenges and goals as quickly as possible (while nonetheless savoring the game’s characters, story, and environments, of course).

Pikmin 4 is more explicit than most games about making sure the player is making the most of every in-game second. The game is constantly hectoring you to maximize your “dandori,” basically a fancy word for multitasking. If you’re not constantly splitting your dozens of flower-like Pikmin into three or four separate groups—each with its own separate subtask—the game goes out of its way to make you feel like a time-wasting slacker who, ironically, spends too much time stopping to smell the flowers.

The whole thing should be stressful. But there’s something surprisingly endearing about Pikmin 4‘s chill version of multitasking that kept me eagerly coming back for more gentle lessons in efficiency.

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