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First Impressions: Pikmin 3

Posted by Mike Mason

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For years Nintendo has been tending to a new entry in the Pikmin series, experimenting with different control methods and systems both handheld and home console. After starting life on Wii, Pikmin 3 was eventually transferred to Wii U due to the benefits of high definition and the GamePad's touch screen. The little plant-alien-bug things have never looked better.

Several new elements were shown or alluded to at E3, such as GamePad-only controls and the chance to command four leaders simultaneously, but in this demo we were only able to test out the Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk control scheme. We did get to meet another adorable new addition, though: the shiny Rock Pikmin, who are more than happy to use their dense forms to crash through anything and everything with ease.

If you've played the New Play Control variants of either previous Pikmin games, you'll have no problem with Pikmin 3 as the controls are practically identical. However, this is the first game in the series to be designed from the ground-up with the Wii Remote in mind, so there is a key difference: a boost in accuracy. With the Wii Remote scheme at least, Nintendo has nailed the controls: using MotionPlus, it's now possible to pinpoint exactly where you want to hurl your garden army with the pointer rather than just the general area.

This came in particularly handy when facing the demo's fantastic boss: a large caterpillar/beetle hybrid with a vicious set of pincers and a mouthful of teeth to match. With a hard shell guarding his fleshy bits, the beast stomped around the arena until you gathered up some Rock Pikmin and used them to shatter his carapace, segment by segment. Each section had to be targeted individually with the pointer, and only once it was shattered could you set swarms of angry Red Pikmin on its exposed and tender back.

The creature moved about quickly and made regular retreats up the walls before charging back onto the field, attempting to chomp your little helpers in between its pincers, so the best way to defeat it was to keep circling, sending a couple of Pikmin at each section and regrouping any fallen troops regularly with a blast of the whistle. It wasn't hugely difficult, but it required a little patience and extra care to make each hit count so that it didn't get the chance to snatch up any Pikmin-shaped snacks.

The other demo level was more akin to a regular Pikmin level, all about exploration and gathering as much fruit as possible. The series' standard Bulborb enemies patrolled the area but posed little threat, which meant there was ample opportunity to play around with the bridge building skills of your followers – crazy paving-style over streams to create a shortcut back to their Onion home – and collect up golden nuggets for greater rewards. Some areas were also locked away behind glassy barriers that could be smashed to bits swiftly with Rock Pikmin.

Understandably given its development history, Pikmin 3 resembles a HD, upscaled version of a Wii game — but that's no slight, as thanks to its style and Nintendo's art wizards it looks pretty great. It was among the best looking Wii U games shown off, with the water and detailed textures of the enemies especially well done. Some impressive depth of field was also on display, characters and areas outside of the central focus area subjected to a pleasing blur that really adds something to the look. With some extra polish before launch – the ground visuals may need some work, for example – this should end up being quite the visual delight.

Based on this short demo, Pikmin 3 controls superbly, promises several new elements and looks quite lovely already. We've waited a ridiculously long time for this sequel to sprout, but early indications are that it'll be among the pick of the bunch come Wii U launch.

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User Comments (50)

BenAV

#1

BenAV said:

I don't know how I'm going to survive the wait.
So excited for Pikmin 3! D:

Snaskyman

#3

Snaskyman said:

I have waited so long for this.
I love the fact that you can play this game with wiimote + nunchuck, and then use the second screen on the gamepad as a map. I hope there will be a bunch of new types of pikmin, other than rock pikmin. :)
This game alone is a good reason why I HAVE to buy a wiiu!

NintyMan

#4

NintyMan said:

The game looks really beautiful, just as I expected it to be. The boss battle especially looks great, and I imagine there will be even bigger and more impressive battles ahead. It'll be interesting learning more about this game as the crucial launch gets nearer.

Wesker

#6

Wesker said:

All the fine tweaks in the world can't change the fact that Pikmin is a laborious game that has a limited fan base. I can't believe they've gone with Pikmin as a launch title again after what happend to the GameCube. This should have been a 3DS game with half the resources devoted to it. Not everything Miyamoto touches turns to gold you know.

FiveDigitLP

#9

FiveDigitLP said:

The depth of field on this alone makes it look so wonderfully beautiful. I think an adapation of it would loook great on the 3DS as well. Seeing that one shot (image 3) where the Pikmin are sent flying at the screen really brings home how cool it would look an the portable.
But man am I looking forward to this. I agree that it is probably not the best launch title to bring in other gamers, but this alone is reason enough for me to purchase a Wii U.

JayceJa

#10

JayceJa said:

SSSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad the wii u gamepad is optional and the motion plus controls are available
my biggest fear before revealing was that this wouldnt be available, i have no doubt the wii u gamepad will control the game well, but i also have no doubt the motion plus is the optimal control scheme
the motion plus improvements sound even better than the already amazing new play controls

the game itself is looking amazing, im not super happy about the look of rock pikmin aesthetically, but functionally they look awesome, the game itself is beautiful
other than that, the only real concern is content, if it doesnt have enough it will be a good game, if it does, it will be an incredible game

abINC4L

#11

abINC4L said:

@Snaskyman
Indeed. I love the fact that they included two different play styles to give us options, but it really adds massively to the replay value. I could first play through the game with the WiiMote, then again with the Game Pad. Something I hope other developers utilize.

rjejr

#13

rjejr said:

My most wanted Wii U game, and as such maybe the reason Santa doesn't bring us a Wii U this year :-(
On the bright side, Nintendo made us wait 2 years for NPC Pikmin 2 so we'll just be playing that instead.
So, when will Nintendo announce a launch date and price? I'm sure there must be some date they have in mind to announce the date, TGS or something?

James

#15

James said:

The final game will let you just use a GamePad but this version didn't.

RE: release date announcements, expect separate events in Japan, America and Europe like the 3DS announcements.

Nin-freak

#16

Nin-freak said:

@Wesker You must not be aware that Pikmin 2 was a top seller on the Gamecube. You also have to note that no series can get popular unless they release games for it!!! You can't say, "well the first game wasn't popular in that franchise, lets just ditch it". Seriously?

Wesker

#17

Wesker said:

@Nin-freak I didn't say ditch it. I said put it on the 3DS and don't make it the linchpin of the Wii U's launch.

And Pikmin sold 1.18m and Pikmin 2 didn't clear 1m.

Game0ver_Gavin

#18

Game0ver_Gavin said:

Yes yes yes yes yes yes ........ YES! Will this be available at launch day? The moment its confirmed for launch, im driving to gamestop/walmart/anystore that would sell a wii u, and preorder it.

Whopper744

#20

Whopper744 said:

Already got it pre ordered. Feel like people who don't go with this, are going to miss out!

Dinosaurs

#21

Dinosaurs said:

The gamepad is sickest bit of gaming tech. Love that I can handheld console games in the house. Do we know if the console is dependent on a TV connection for the gamepad to operate the OS? For exanple if I take the system on a road trip can I still play games ?

NiBar

#22

NiBar said:

@Wesker Not correct. Pikmin sold 1,63m and Pikmin 2 sold 1,20m on GC according to VGC, so Pikmin is a smash hit and they has actually sold almost as much as Metroid prime 2 1,63m GC and Metroid prime 3 Wii 1,33m.

Dodger

#23

Dodger said:

Not surprised that Pikmin 3 is one of the best looking games on Wii U. Pikmin 2 was one of the best looking games on Gamecube.

Zach777

#26

Zach777 said:

Rock Pikmin are a lame idea... didn't the yellow ones used to carry bombs that basically did the same things? Rock Pikmin seem pretty much like the replacement for the yellow ones ability to use bombs to blow stuff up...

AND they look ridiculous.

C-Olimar

#27

C-Olimar said:

Pikmin is a fantastic RTS and the only people who don't like it haven't played it or don't like RTS games. So there.

techwiz97

#28

techwiz97 said:

@BenAV I KNOW! I plan on getting the Wii U on launch night, they said this was going to be a launch title right?

Radixxs

#29

Radixxs said:

I had Pikmin 2 for the GameCube, but I didn't enjoy it very much. I didn't like the necessity of returning to the ship before dark, and the whole game felt difficult to control and navigate. I was quite young though. And I did not enjoy Little King's Story as much as I thought I would. I'm very iffy on this right now.

rjejr

#33

rjejr said:

For those looking to get this at system launch - Reggie said the launch window was 3-4 months. Since the system also has about 15 games listed as "holiday" and only about 5 listed as "launch window" (notice that word WINDOW), Pikmin 3 being one of those 5, I think Pikmin 3 will go on sale after the holidays. Plus 2 of the other 5 launch window games only have working titles. So unless that July 14 Amazon date is correct that's how the pieces of the puzzle look. Hope I'm wrong though, I'm not fighting holiday shopping crowds to buy a Wii U to play Nintendo Land.

Ras

#34

Ras said:

I was so excited by the look of Pikmin 3 that I started New Play Control Pikmin, which I've had sitting around for a long time. Fun game, but I'm finding it to be quite a challenge. I knew enough going in to not save if I wasted a day figuring things out, and because of that I'm ahead on parts vs. days, but I'm still finding it tough just to clear a path to a part via fighting, replenish my Pikmin, and then make it back to the ship in time.

Even so, I bought NPC Pikmin 2 on Sunday and will buy this when it comes out, launch or not. I won't fight crowds or risk losing out on the Wii U--that's what Amazon is for. I do hope they have black to start, though it's not critical.

NiBar

#35

NiBar said:

@NINTENDOFACE Yeah, this will sell like hot cakes. It looks gorgeous and I'm sure it will play like a dream. Really looking forward to this one. It has been 8 long years since Pikmin 2...

sinalefa

#36

sinalefa said:

@C Olimar

I don't like RTS games but I loved Pikmin 1 and I am definitely getting the second one for Wii. The world is just so charming and I even went through the "problem" of replaying days just to see how many pieces of the ship I could get in one.

This game is a must buy for me whenever I buy a Wii U. I don't see this working as a 3DS game as you would need a microscope to see the pikmin on a small screen, most likely a reason why we have never seen a portable Pikmin.

lex0plex

#37

lex0plex said:

Not a big fan of the Rock Pikmin either... I hope they don't have an onion and are only used on occasion. I did like the Purple Pikmin though! They're the ones who should have an onion! Why don't they just bring those guys back instead?

mamp

#38

mamp said:

I know rock pikmin break stuff but it seems like something purple pikmin could have done too with their heavy size. Can you guys explain if there was a notable difference since you got to try them out?

mastersworddude

#40

mastersworddude said:

I don't think Pikmin would work on 3DS, the screen would be to small you wouldn't know what was going on.

James

#41

James said:

One cool little thing I had pointed out to me: all the Rock Pikmin are different shapes.

@mamp Rock Pikmin are the 'battering rams' of the Pikmin world. They crush, smash and batter really hard things like crystals, rocks, shells etc. that are too tough for even purple Pikmin to dent. Also, Rock Pikmin don't hang onto enemies so they're just like throwing stones. They are sufficiently different to purple Pikmin to be worth including :)

Nin-freak

#43

Nin-freak said:

@Wesker Then what's the point? The 3DS really doesn't have the sufficient number of inputs for a Pikmin game. Only Wii U does. Plus it's HD, so why do you care?

grumblebuzzz

#45

grumblebuzzz said:

I like the Pikmin series and this game looks good, but I still don't see why Nintendo skipped over bringing Pikmin 3 to the Wii. Aside from the HD graphics and a few new Pikmin, this looks like the same ol' Pikmin to me and could have easily came out on the Wii.

bonesy91

#46

bonesy91 said:

I actually CAN wait for this haha. Need to Finish Pikmin 2 first >.> ... only rented it for gamecube back in the day.

Dodger

#47

Dodger said:

I think a Pikmin could work for 3DS if they built it for the 3DS and not a console. They would need to use the touch screen for moving your group of pikmin, likely because from what I've looked at, that seems to be the one thing that there isn't a button for if you map everything else out. Better then holding down the d-pad and using the pointer together. I don't know. I just think it could be done if it was built from the ground up for 3DS.

Mason

#50

Mason said:

We didn't get to see those unfortunately; they floated about on the title screen teasingly, but nothing more!

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