Back in 2001, Nintendo gave gamers one of the cutest games which the company’s ever crafted: Pikmin. The hardcore crowd dismissed the childish-looking game, but quickly retracted said dismissal. Pikmin is one of the most challenging and rewarding games you’ll ever play. It requires intensive micro- and macro-management to navigate through a dangerous world full of obstacles and ferocious enemies. Mixing and matching your army of Pikmin has been a series staple and is extremely important.
Pikmin 3 looks great. Granted, we haven’t seen a Pikmin property since the GameCube days, so the graphical boost really pops. The game has the same art style as its predecessors, but with next-gen improvements. Textures are highly detailed and the Pikmin and enemy models given a contemporary update. The game is bright and bubbly, but is also brutally difficult and punishing if you don’t know what you’re doing. Before I began the demo I had the advantage of watching someone else play. As I watched, I created my strategy and was observant of the environmental hazards. I also noticed a new Pikmin type: Rock Pikmin. They look extremely different from the rest of the Pikmin; they have rugged bodies just like the mineral by the same name. Rock Pikmin do massive damage and are able to destroy ice and glass obstacles. They also don’t function like regular Pikmin; standard Pikmin, during combat, latch onto enemies, but Rock Pikmin ricochet off foes and have to be continually thrown. Their damage output and endurance is considerably higher, however.
I was excited to use the Wii U GamePad for managing and moving my Pikmin, but sadly the demo was only playable with a Wiimote and Nunchuck. I quickly got over my disappointment. Using the Wiimote to point at items or enemies feels natural, as the B button rounds up Pikmin, the A button tosses Pikmin, and the Nunchuck’s guides the captain. Shaking the Nunchuck causes the Pikmin to charge, while doing so with the Wiimote throws Pikmin. I was also told that the game would require Wii MotionPlus, which will ensure more accurate motion controls.
Pikmin 3′s gameplay is similar to the previous series entries, so it took just a few moments to become reacquainted with the title. I managed to obtain the high score, but it took a lot of management. My biggest obstacle wasn’t the enemies, it was the games camera. Controlling the camera and changing perspectives is cumbersome with the Wiimote, although it’s a vast improvement over its predecessor. Sadly, I was only able to spend ten minutes with the game, so I couldn’t get a true feel for the difficulty or more advanced controls. However, I do believe that the Wii MotionPlus offers far more accurate Pikmin control; gone are the days of throwing the wrong Pikmin at an enemy and losing a valuable resource.
At this time there isn’t a release date, but if Nintendo is smart this will be a launch title. This might very well be one of the Wii U’s killer apps.