Everyone seemed pretty shocked when Nintendo‘s E3 conference kicked off with a video displaying Pikmin running around Mr. Miyamoto’s dressing room. There were pleasantly surprised gasps to be heard all throughout the conference hall. Of course, they were speculating that this meant the announcement of a new Pikmin title, but all the same, the crowd burst into applause when the “Pikmin 3” title page came up on the big screen. After waiting in line for a while, I finally got to try it out for myself.
The demo that I had the opportunity to play was a level where your mission is to gather as much fruit as you can within the 7:00 minute time limit. Unfortunately, in the current level of development, the controls were not yet fully interchangeable with the Wii U Controller; I could play only with the WiiMote and Nunchuk. The layout of the level looked very similar to the first levels in Pikmin, with lush greenery, ponds, and a nasty bug problem (which the Pikmin and I took care of). The graphics for this new title are breathtaking, almost unbelievable when looking back on previous Pikmin titles, but we have to remember that there has not yet been a TRUE Wii version of Pikmin.
Pikmin 3 appears to be everything that gamers were hoping New Play Control! Pikmin would be. You aim the cursor with the WiiMote and throw the Pikmin by pressing “A”. This comes in pretty handy, as you have better accuracy and can “shoot” them more quickly this way, though I found myself wishing that I was able to use the Z button like a trigger instead. Predictably, you use the Nunchuk joystick to move around. The Wii U GamePad displays a mini-map at all times when using the WiiMote and Nunchuk for play.
There are old favorites among the Pikmin, all 5 original “species” are available, along with a new species, Rock Pikmin. They have more attack power than any of the Pikmin before, and are great for breaking down tough walls or hard carapaces of evil enemies. To separate your crowds of Pikmin you use the C button, and the one thing that I found myself missing from the original Pikmin title was the fact that you could use the “C stick” to direct your Pikmin in a little field around you. For instance, when Olimar is running around a level in the original Pikmin, you can make the Pikmin fall into line directly behind you by manipulating their direction with the C stick. It was very handy for directing them to go in front of you and swarm around, kill, and pick up an enemy. There is no such control, as of yet, with Pikmin 3. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that the second joystick on the GamePad will probably serve this purpose.