It only took 8 years and a new console for Nintendo to finally make a new Pikmin game using the Wii Remote and Nunchuck.
Pikmin 3 on Wii U can, of course, also be controlled with the new console’s iconic tablet. However in the hands-on 7 minute demo at Nintendo’s booth, they showcased how the Wii U tablet can be used as a map, while we control the game using the more precise last-gen Wii Remote.
In this configuration, the Wii U tablet was displayed by a convenient stand. Unfortunately none of the Nintendo staff in the vicinity knew if this was included with either the Wii U or Pikmin, but considering Kid Icarus: Uprising was the recent beneficiary of some plastic to give your wrists a break, it’s a definite possibility.
During the demo, I had seven minutes to familiarise myself with the Trial Course and bring back as much fruit to the ship as possible. Beginning with just the stock-standard red Pikmin, the controls are much the same as those in the New Play Control updates of Pikmin 1 & 2. The Wii Remote’s IR pointer is used to direct your Pikmin with the A button, and your trusty whistle (B) recalls them from an uncertain slumber.
Besides an inability to spawn new Pikmin, the first few minutes were much of the same. Instead of hatching them with your ship, groups of Pikmin were loitering around the level without command. They were visible on the zoomed out map on the Wii U screen, which would have been extremely useful, had I remembered it.
Before long the new rock Pikmin emerged from the confines of a flying jellyfish/flubber monstrosity. They look more like discarded pieces metal than rocks to me, but each to their own.
The tough-as-nails new Pikmin can be used to break walls and ice that would otherwise be impenetrable. There are also some enemies that can only be beaten by the Rockmin (if that is their real name probably not). The trade off for their superior strength is speed and loyalty. Expect them to lag behind the group and drop off long before the feisty Red Pikmin.
Visually the textures are crisp and a pleasure to look at with a huge bump in detail, but definitely not next generation. I’d be hard pressed to say that this looks better than Super Mario Galaxy 2, besides its cleaner edges, which come from the bump to HD. It’s early days though, and Nintendo is clearly holding its cards close to its chest with more announcements likely planned ahead of launch.
I’m hoping for some crazier environments and hundreds or even thousands of Pikmin on screen at once to show what Nintendo can do with its trademark clean, crisp look on the more powerful hardware.
Pikmin 3 is shaping up nicely, although it hasn’t strayed far from what made the GameCube games so much fun. Unless what I saw was only a small taste of what’s to come, it’s surprising they waited until the Wii U to give it to go ahead.
By Ben Salter - Bio