There are all sorts of fun and imaginative things to discover in the Pikmin series, with new and exotic creatures in a world that looks eerily similar to our own Earth. Similar, but seemingly missing one key feature that has plagued Pikmin fans ever since its launch; what happened to all the humans?
From blockades made from soda bottles to bridges from old food boxes, the remnants of humanity are littered across the world that Pikmin primarily takes place on, but the humans themselves are notoriously missing. What could have happened to explain all of humanity’s disappearance and the emergence of new fauna and flora, and the Pikmin themselves?
Does Pikmin Take Place On Earth?
In the game, Captain Olimar and the other protagonists from the game refer to the planet as PNF-404.
The name is a reference to the real-world HTTP status code 404 for “Page Not Found”, used in the Pikmin series for Planet Not Found, since the large blue planet is not on any of Olimar’s records and is in an unexplored part of space.
Despite this, there are plenty of signs that PNF-404 could be our Earth. The most obvious is that the planet shares many geographical similarities to Earth. At various points of the game, you can make out continents like Australia and Africa when you look at the planet from a distance.
There’s also the case that PNF-404 is littered with all sorts of objects and items that resemble modern objects that humanity has created.
Batteries, pop caps, gloves, matches, and even crystal balls can be found by explorers to the planet, pretty solidly confirming that PNF-404 is Earth, or at least has been home to humanity for a significant portion of its recent past.
Where Did All The Humans Go?
The much more difficult question to answer is what happened to all the humans by the time the Pikmin games take place. It seems apparent that humanity has been gone for some time, given the flourishing of new life forms that seem to have propagated across the planet.
At the same time, plenty of items that you would expect to have decayed or been destroyed relatively quickly, like cardboard boxes and lightbulbs, would probably dissolve or be broken by stray animals or severe storms.
One of the earliest hints as to what happened to humanity comes from the first Pikmin game. In this game, the stranded and perpetually in danger Captain Olimar must repair his ship before his suit runs out of power and exposes him to the deadly oxygenated atmosphere of the planet.
While repairing his ship, the S.S. Dolphin, Olimar fixes his Geiger counter, a device that detects ionizing radiation, making noises whenever it detects radiation in the environment.
Olimar admits he has no idea what the device is used for, just that it makes a lot of noise sometimes, but knows it’s a vital part of the ship, and he cannot take off without repairing it.
High levels of radiation suggest that something might have occurred that has made the planet inhabitable for humanity, which could speak to the relatively intact nature of many of the items scattered across the planet.
If humanity had doused the Earth with deadly radiation, or some cosmic event caused the planet to become saturated with it, it might have given them the reason to evacuate the planet exceptionally quickly, leaving behind all sorts of relatively recent items.
Another possible explanation for the missing members of humanity is the quickly changing tectonic plates that PNF-404 seems to show.
Across the first two games of the Pikmin series, the continent’s placement and shape seem to be exceptionally close to that of a modern-day Earth.
In Pikmin 3, however, much of the planet’s surface has changed in an incredibly short amount of time.
It would take hundreds of millions of years for continents to reform into a mega-continent where all the continents of the world have merged together into one huge land mass, a theoretical landmass called Pangea Proxima.
Pikmin 3 depicts a world where this is already occurring, despite only being a short time between the events of Pikmin 2 and Pikmin 3.
If some cataclysmic event has caused the tectonic plates of PNF-404 to shift at such high rates, it might have caused the planet to be uninhabitable for humanity, sparking an exodus from the planet before the worst-case scenario could unfold.
It could very likely create a similar scenario as the first theory, where all the humans living on the planet had to abandon their property and items to quickly flee the planet.
It also creates scenarios where animals either had to radically adapt to the new environment or make room for new species to take over.
Pikmin 4 Throws A Wrench Into Many Theories
One of the strangest things about Pikmin 4 is that it brings you to locations where it seems that humans were actively living mere hours ago.
Pikmin 4 also seems to be a retelling of the first game to some extent, with logs written by Olimar seemingly predicting events that have not yet come to pass in the game but have certainly occurred in Pikmin 2 and Pikmin 3.
Regardless of what actually happened to humanity in the Pikmin games, the larger inhabitants of the world, humans as far as anyone can tell, have disappeared from the world, leaving it to the new inhabitants like Pikmin, Bulbmin, Wollywogs, Snagrets.
Next: Why Is Pikmin Called Pikmin?