With Pikmin 3 DLC being a major possibility, the return of Pimin 2's greatest strength could be just the thing to up the length and challenge of story mode.

Anyone who completed the enormous collect-athon that was Pikmin 2 won't be hitting many speed bumps in Pikmin 3's main game.  Excess juice builds up quickly and allows for coasting through the latter half of the story almost without incident, and Mission mode can only infuriate you for so long. Bringing back the challenge of Pikmin 2 style caves while balancing juice-collecting would be the perfect fix!

Caves were essentially Pikmin 2's dungeons, requiring planning, adaptability, and skill. The squad you brought with you was what you got, because once inside, collecting fallen creatures could not produce new sprouts. Caves made it necessary to count every eaten, squashed, cremated, drowned, poisoned, and electrocuted Pikmin and appropriate your resources according to the amount and assortment of those that remained. Enduring the many dangers was a trying task, but finding the curious relics of a certain lost civilization was an irresistible calling.

Pikmin 3 is decidedly more quickly paced than 2, and Miyamoto apparently didn't see a place for caves in this formula. I beg to differ, because caves don't necessarily have to stall the fruit frenzy, and can, in fact, make it a more pressing and dangerous task than ever before!

In order fit caves into the grand scheme of Pikmin 3 without throwing everything else out of tune, some subtle but important changes will have to be made:

1. Slow the passage of time rather than freeze it

How could Pikmin 3 retain its smooth and insistent pacing if the player is able to lollygag in a cave for several days time without consequence? Slowing the passage of time to half or even a fourth of its usual rate would alleviate some of the pressure without getting rid of the urgency.

2. Require every leader to reach the drop point together

In Pikmin 2, caves were separated into many different floors, each with its own set of obstacles, enemies, and treasure. Each floor, except the final, had a hole through which Olimar and Louie descended to the next. It didn't matter which leader used the hole, or even that they were together. As long as one leader got through, the whole team would follow suit. Perhaps Pikmin 3's best quality is the new three-leader system that places great emphasis on multitasking and time-management. Creating caves that take advantage of this would be a key factor in the success of my hypothetical DLC. Allowing for a single leader to split from the group, reach the hole, and escape with the entire crew would be missing the point.

3. Split up the leaders on every floor

Building upon the above reason: sending every leader to their own region of the cave and tasking players with reuniting the crew would be a great fix! Charlie, Brittany, and the Pikmin wouldn't have time to sit on their hands while Alph charges ahead to the goal. Instead, everyone would have to work hard, micromanaging and being conservative in combat,  to locate the hole in a safe and timely manner.

4. Place a much more meaningful prize in the final room

Pikmin 3's juice system is great, adding a sort of time limit to the story without limiting the number of days you're allowed to explore. But some fruit hold too much of the precious liquid, allowing players of even moderate skill to easily accumulate more than enough juice to reach the end-game. Caves have the power to bring this system to proportion by reserving the juiciest fruit, a rewarding prize synonymous with rec-time, for their final rooms. Fruit on the surface should also be balanced to only provide enough time for the next objective.

While this sort of DLC is unlikely, demanding changes to established locations and mechanics of the game, I'm still hopeful. I wouldn't mind getting to play a miniature campaign featuring Olimar and Louie's escapades, but I do believe that an upgraded story mode would encourage fans to replay Pikmin 3 more than the already featured global leader-boards ever could. Though I felt Story mode was not as substantial as it could have been, my aim has not been to criticize the game. Pikmin 3 is a well-paced, well-balanced strategy game filled with more personality and originality than almost any other I can think of. Needless to say, I think every Wii U owner should give it a shot!