Killing Them Softly
It has been almost a decade since we were last treated to a new Pikmin title. This unique IP was first launched in 2001 on the Gamecube while its sequel followed in 2004. Nintendo then proceeded to re-release these two Pikmin games on the Wii, retrofitting them with a new play control scheme to work with the remote and nunchuk as opposed to the dual analog sticked Gamecube controller.
Pikmin 3 was one of the highlighting features of Nintendo’s 2012 E3 presentation, promising to hit the Wii U launch window. Unfortunately, Nintendo has delayed the release of this threequel to sometime in Spring 2013. Details on this new game have been scarce as Nintendo has only released a couple of short trailers depicting gameplay. However, here are 10 important facts that any fan would want to know.
First – This is a Wii U exclusive and is designed to use the new hardware. Fans will be pleased to know that a typical Motion-Plus remote and nunchuk can be used throughout the duration of the game. But players can also use the gamepad while the touchscreen displays a map that references parts of the environment, enemies, and placement of your Pikmin followers. This radar will be used to strategize attacks and the best way to travel throughout each stage.
Second – Olimar is gone. Or at least, Nintendo isn’t spilling the beans as to why Olimar isn’t around. Instead, players can choose to play as one of four new characters, each signified by different candy colored hair. But knowing Nintendo, it is doubtful that Olimar will be missing from the entire game. Perhaps he is just captured, or sent his children to make slaves of the Pikmin instead. Either way, there is most likely some story element tied to Olimar’s disappearance.
Third – Multiplayer will be a component of Pikmin 3. Details on this mode have been sketchy but given the fact that there are four new playable characters, it is probably a safe assumption that Pikmin 3 will feature 4-player co-op. However, given that this is a Nintendo developed game, it might be safe not to hold your breath for online multiplayer support because everyone knows Nintendo doesn’t believe in it. The co-op features in Pikmin 2 were great. But adding online campaign co-op would be a most welcomed feature. Let’s hope this is why the game has been delayed.
Fourth – New Pikmin types. The previous five Pikmin will be returning in Pikmin 3 but will also fight alongside the new rock type Pikmin. These glossy buggers can be chucked to damage armored surfaces. One boss battle required the tossing of these rock Pikmin to crack a shell and expose a softer, meatier inside. It will be interesting to combine rock type with the heavy purple type from Pikmin 2. Damage will surely be dealt.
Fifth – The Wii U has a more powerful processor. This stronger hardware will be used to create bigger and more detailed environments. Both Pikmin 1 and 2 were actually really good looking GC games; that bottle cap looked so real. The graphical expectations of this third game are high but it looks like Nintendo is going to deliver.
Sixth – Replay feature. When you complete a stage, the game displays a replay of your performance which can be analyzed for a more efficient second play through. A feature like this begs for Leaderboard functionality. But this would require an online component which Nintendo is always hesitant on implementing.
Seventh – New Modes. The new Mission Mode challenges the player to collect as much treasure as possible in a limited amount of time. Just like the replay feature, this mode’s only staying power will be some type of online leaderboard functionality. Also, this mode cries out for co-op and sounds like a good excuse to create some future DLC. Let’s hope.
Eighth – You will cry when your Pikmin die. There is no doubt that Pikmin is an emotional game. You literally raise these buggers from seeds to adults. And watching their soul fade from their physical existence is always heart breaking. Tear jerkers be warned.
Ninth – Performance is measured. At the end of each stage, the game awards the player with a corresponding medal. Do well by keeping your Pikmin alive, finding all the treasure, and finishing a stage in a short amount of time will yield a gold medal. Since awards will be handed out, it is a wonder if there will be unlockable content. Earn enough gold medals and a new map or higher difficulty will become available, for example. Guess we will have to wait and see.
Tenth – Boss fights. Pikmin 1 and 2 both feature some strenuous boss encounters and many Pikmin have been sacrificed to these kooky critters. Pikmin 3 looks to continue this tradition by forcing the player to use both strategy and brute force simultaneously. Just watch out for those cheap one-hit kills.
Pikmin 3 is shaping up to be a worthy sequel that should hopefully please fans. But for the first time, Wii U owners have something new to look forward to. Ports of last gen console games and mini game compilations are not exactly what gamers are looking for these days. Pikmin 3 could very well be the first excuse you need to pick up a Wii U.
In The Meantime: play Pikmin 2 on GC
Also Try: harvesting SeaMonkeys
Wait For It: Pikmin 3DS
*Stupid Useless Fact – if you shorten Pikmin to PKMN, it could be mistaken for Nintendo’s other critter-based franchise – Pokemon. Amazing the difference a few vowels can make.