Like an Old Friend Returning

E3 2012: Pikmin 3 is as delightful and charming as you remember the franchise being.

When nothing grows in your garden, you begin to fear the worst. Have the nutrients all been used up? Do you have an infestation of boll weevils? No one poured salt in the earth, did they? But then one morning you walk through your garden, assuming that you'll once again be greeted by a barren patch of black soil, when a green stalk catches your eye. Could it be true? Has your garden finally returned? The years of absence fade away as you rejoice in your blossoming oasis.

That's the feeling that sprung forth when Nintendo showed off Pikmin 3 for the first time. This plant-based real-time strategy franchise has been off the radar for eight long years. Though Nintendo did mention its existence once or twice, it always seemed like an empty promise. The idea that there really was a sequel to this beloved adventure, inspired by Shigeru Miyamoto's own gardening hobby, was like a dream that would vanish as soon as we woke up. But now that it's real, and we had a chance to play it, we can confirm that it's just as charming as you remember.

If anything, Pikmin has only become more endearing in the eight years (two console generations!) we've been apart. Amid the sea of violence and vulgarity that permeates big-budget games, the lovable, pint-sized beings are a welcome respite. But it's not just the happy-go-lucky tone that makes Pikmin 3 so engrossing; it's the core concept. What worked so well on the GameCube is still incredibly rewarding almost a decade later.

Very little has changed since Pikmin 2 doffed its flowery cap. And though being derivative is usually a bad thing, it works for Pikmin because it has been so long since the last game came out, and there is nothing else on the market quite like it. It's hard to be sick of an idea when games sporting that gameplay surface only once in a blue moon.

For the uninitiated, you control a pint-size spaceman that has crash-landed on Earth. Upon arriving in this strange land, you find a group of plantlike creatures waiting for you. Docile and obedient, they circle around you when you blow a whistle. In the demo we played, resource gathering was the main task. So we sought out trash on the ground, directed our Pikmin to carry it back to our ship, and basked in the wealth.

Given that the Wii U doesn't support the GameCube controller, we used the Wii Remote with Nunchuk. Although we were initially hesitant to change, the new method is, at worst, equal to what the original offered, and could be better with practice. You can easily point at the objects you want to collect and send your Pikmin that way quickly and smoothly. Switching between different Pikmin (there were two in the demo, red and stone) is a snap, and gathering them with your beckoning whistle is as easy as pie. The GamePad is also supported, though we weren't allowed to try it for ourselves. We were told that it's a little less intuitive using that controller instead of the Wii Remote, and E3 goers unfamiliar with the concept of Pikmin were struggling to come to grips with the controls.

Although we aren't sure how the game feels with the GamePad, we're certain that what we played is incredibly fun. The slow pacing and gooey charm go together beautifully, and the combat is fast and furious. Using the new aiming controls, you can attack enemies from different angles with ease, and hoisting the carcass after a hard-fought battle is always rewarding. We're giddy that this game actually exists, and is incredibly fun, and we cannot wait to play the final game sometime during the Wii U's launch window.

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80 comments
Mortz_88
Mortz_88

Pikmin 3 looks awesome but its not enough for me to buy a Wii U sorry, I just don't get it.

SloganYams
SloganYams

I wonder what M. Bison and Daniel Bryan have to say about Pikmin 3?

wolfieboy13
wolfieboy13

I don't care what people think about the Wii U, i am a nintendo fan through and through, and I'm definatley going to get the Wii U and this game.

rushiosan
rushiosan

I find Pikmin series a bit annoying, but I might give a chance to this one if I ever have a Wii U... I hate Wii's Pikmin pointing-and-clicking controls, they should give an option to turn them off. Graphics are kinda messed up too, since there are too much red, blue and green everywhere in low textures, sometimes blurred out by leaf shadows. Same for bubble menus and icons... that hurts in my stomach. Taking Katamari series as an example, their colors are less aggressive, because they have a lot of sand color tones, like sand green, sand blue and sand red and the scenarios don't try to be THAT realistic.

 

Oh well, it's very personal. The series aren't bad at all.

Wormkid_64
Wormkid_64

More people need to play Pikmin. But even if they don't ,THIS gamer certainly will.

Stesilaus
Stesilaus

So the Pikmin franchise will be skipping the Wii as the third installment heads straight to the Wii U?  That's a slap in the face for Wii owners!  :(

ninos7
ninos7

Were is Captain Olimar?

hoossy1
hoossy1

This game trivializes real plants and their struggles.  Shame on you Nintendo for making spacemen and flowers look cute and cartoony!  What an insult.

 

....sorry.... I just had a Tom Mc Shea moment...

Sportyfamilycar
Sportyfamilycar

Pikmin...Nintendo's most  underrated game series. I wish more people played and knew how unique Pikmin is.

Stonecutters908
Stonecutters908

I am getting the Wii U day 1 because of this game and I actually thought Nintendo dropped the ball on their conference.

 

That is how good this game looked. Add in AC3 and Rayman Legends, I have more than enough reasons to get a Wii-U day one. ZombiU and P-100 are also firmly on my radar.

JoSilver
JoSilver

YESSSS!!!! YESSSSS!!!!!

 

thermalmotion
thermalmotion

Yay PIKMIN!

But I really wasn't planning to get the WiiU :(

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

Wow, you never really did play the New Play Control Pikmin have you Tom?  The controls make the game MUCH better than it originally did on Gamecube

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

You know whats funny? Realistic looks in GAMING has changed so much over the years that people forget about how REAL LIFE Realistic style looks like and fail to realize just how FANTASTIC Pikmin 3's  Photorealistic style is. I mean even the Pikmin themselves look like Shiny Fruit/Rock People! Its much different from the Realistic weve come to always see in gaming, but its definitly an Awesome look once you realize it.

 

You guys need to watch the trailer in all its glory to realize how similar the games Photorealistic style is to looking at a garden with your Magnifying Glass www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxWIvaD2XQI

 

Also, Tom, you DO realize how much Pikmin 2 improved the Originals mechanics right? Who knows what Pikmin 3 can do, its definitly not gonna be a Launch Title and is still under heavy Dev.

Trickymaster
Trickymaster

A short story about Nintendo hypocrisy. Here we have a company that says graphics don't matter. But they have no problem adding super useless expensive gimmicks to their consoles that don't even add value to gaming. Example: 3D screen on 3DS.

Another example: A freaking 2nd screen on the controller that destroys the battery life of the controller to 3-5 hours.

 

If you don't care about graphics, how much less would you care about this stuff?? Nintendo needs to get its ish together! sigh I can't believe it, but Gamecube was probably the best console since SNES. If I had the choice between a Wii U that comes with a Classic controller but better hardware specs and a Wii U that comes with a tablet controller, my decision would be quick and easy.

 

And just to wake some people up: If you haven't noticed it by now, it takes Nintendo exactly 4 years to develop a Zelda. Since Skyward Sword was released Fall last year, that means you will have to wait until 2014 for the next one. If you expect any new Zelda around the corner, dream on.

Supersayian007
Supersayian007

i just purchased 1 and 2 from the shops to see what the fuss is all about.. i hope they are as good as ppl are making it out to be

ziproy
ziproy

Kind of disappointing that there was nothing in this article besides editorial filler. Was looking for some details

paladin125
paladin125

I used to love playing Pikmin... too bad I don't have consoles to play this anymore

BtotheKS
BtotheKS

Pumped for this game, that's for sure. I'm definitely going to have to play Pikmin 1 & 2 over the summer before the Wii U comes out.

 

On an unrelated note, kinda sucks that the Wii U isn't compatible with Gamecube games. Looks like I'll be keeping my Wii around after the U is out.

kyle756
kyle756

I hope they still have the purple and albino pikmin to go with the new rock ones

Zhadgon
Zhadgon

There is a game called Little King´s Story for Wii that has some controls and gameplay similar to Pikmin, if anyone enjoy Pikmin and want to play a great game until the next Pikmin 3 you should play it.

Blacer1
Blacer1

 @ninos7 I think it's related to the story, the objective of the game is to save captain Olimar by using the 4 other "captains".

spike6958
spike6958

 @ninos7 Miyamoto said his absence in the E3 demo was related to the main story of the game.

mike9876543210
mike9876543210

 @Sportyfamilycar It's an amazing series to be fair, pikmin 2 was awesome so i think this will be even better, wonder what they will be putting on the game pad screen, maybe a pickmin count so you know how many of the different types you have

ArabrockermanX
ArabrockermanX

 @hotdiddykong

 

It is a launch title Nintendo made sure to show only launch titles. That's part of why their presentation sucked with exception to Pikmin 3(of Nintendo's games).

mike9876543210
mike9876543210

 @Trickymaster they have been working on the new zelda for nearly 3 years so i think it will be released late 2013, early 2014

Chico86_basic
Chico86_basic

@Trickymaster

Nintendo sure focus more on gameplay instead of graphical power, and even now I don't think it's gonna be such a huge leap compared to current generation consoles. The thing is that Nintendo knows they need that power in order to get 3rd party support or we would never see Mass Effect 3, Assassin's Creed III, Darksiders II, among others. 3D is an useless expensive gimmick as much as HD, and the WiiU Gamepad can be utilized while charging through an AC adaptor. Like many other gamers you're just whining for nothing. I completely agree with you on Zelda though, specially when the same people who bash Nintendo for only sticking with Mario, Zelda and Metroid want nothing but that in the shortest amount of time possible, while ignoring everything else a Nintendo system might offer.

 

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @Trickymaster 

Useless gimmicks? Only someone narrow-minded would think what Nintendo's doing is hypocrisy. Graphics and gameplay are 2 completely different things and Nintendo always focuses on gameplay. Sure the 3D effect right now on the 3DS isn't amazing but guess what? The 3DS is only a year old and developers are still experimenting on how to use this effect to give gamers a deeper experience in what they're playing. It was like the Wii, not that many of the games within the first year showcased the Wii's capabilities that well, but as the years went on, developers got better with the Wii's tech and better games started coming out. 

 

How do you know what the battery life is of the Wii U Game Pad? Plus how do you know it's useless? New Super Mario Brothers U and Rayman Legends already have displayed how the GamePad adds a new experience to platformers, and games like ZombieU and Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition show how the GamePad can further immerse gamers in the action. The Wii U isn't even out yet and developers are already showing us really cool ways the GamePad can be integrated in gaming. If the Wii U was exactly the way you want it, then I suggest you wait for the next Xbox or Playstation because Nintendo has always been about being the game changer with pretty much every console they've released.

 

Yes it took Nintendo over 4 years to make Skyward Sword, but doesn't mean it's always going to take that long. It was only 2 years between Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask  and 3 years later Wind Waker came out, and Twilight Princess another 3 years. So if you hate Nintendo, then whatever, don't buy their consoles or games and miss out on some of the greatest experiences in videogames. 

BloomerNYC
BloomerNYC

 @Trickymaster

 Welcome to the world of Nintendo...We make sub-par products because we know parents only care about the price of their kid's gaming system, not the power. We are the winners come holiday time because we know parents like to skimp on things that their kids want yet they don't really understand themselves. "You don't NEED a PS3 Johnny, let's get you a Wii."

ExplicitMike
ExplicitMike

 @Trickymaster I would say the N64. Gamecube was great, but after Eternal Darkness and SSB I was done. (I am not a Zelda fan so don't tell me Windwaker) Especially since RE4 and Killer 7 came to PS2.

Trickymaster
Trickymaster

I for one am done with Nintendo. I'll buy a Wii that is backwards compatible with Gamecube games for nostalgia purposes and that's it.

Assenmacher13
Assenmacher13

 @Supersayian007 good call, the first Pikmin is fun If you enjoy a challenge because you have to get 30 parts of your ship in 30 days, but the second in my opinion is more enjoyable because it is a much longer game and it has no time limit.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

 @Zhadgon 

Thats true, i already own it though.

 

Atleast New Play Control Pikmin 2 is coming out in a few hours, the Motion control to move the targetting circle is SOOOOO much easier than Gamecube

jflkdjs
jflkdjs

@Zhadgon I have that game, and it's going to get a PS VITA release too. The PS VITA release will be called : New Little King's Story :)

GriffinBalls
GriffinBalls

Launch WINDOW. Meaning the first 3-4 months according to Reggie. They showed launch window titles, not necessarily launch

mike9876543210
mike9876543210

 @abHS4L88  you make the best point here, its like that Aliens Colonial Marines, you get a sensor just like the heartbeat sensor in cod, they say you can use the game pad as the sensor, all you do is point it at the screen and turn you character, this saves you time by not clicking a button, plus when playing games, if you change the channel on the TV, what was on the TV, gets streamed to the game pad so you can carry on playing which is in my opinion a brilliant idea 

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @BloomerNYC 

Yes because the PS3 is totally well known for offering games for kids. If I was a parent buying my kids a console, I would've most definitely gotten them a Wii over a 360 and PS3 because I'd rather have my kids playing games like Mario, Kirby, even seeing if they can play through Zelda rather than playing mindless games like COD. The Wii was in no way sub par. Yeah it's not an HD console, but Nintendo has always believed in offering an affordable yet quality product and at that time, HD consoles were expensive to make, hence the extremely high launch price of the PS3 and even the 360 was set at a high price for a while, and how much was the Wii? Far less, but for the first 4 years it was the best selling console and considering that console used to almost always be released within 4 year intervals, the Wii did an amazing job. So in what way is the Wii U a sub par product? Or let's go back in time and look at the DS, GameCube, GBA, N64, SNES, Gameboy, and NES, all great consoles, especially the handhelds.

Trickymaster
Trickymaster

 @hihater  How mature of you. No. None of what you said applies to me. But, I'm old enough to remember that back in the 90s, Nintendo did all kinds of experiments and they don't like to talk about it now but they flopped big time such as Virtual Boy.

 

I just wish sheep like you would be thinking consumers realizing the huge hypocrisy in Nintendo's statement that graphics don't matter yet they add all kinds of useless gimmicks that are fare more expensive than adding another 1 GB of RAM to the console or getting a faster on-board GPU. But whatever, keep on buying into their stuff and you'll see where it gets you. 

Lazerith91
Lazerith91

 @hihater I'm sure you hit him spot on. Dont worry about people like them though. They like to make themselves feel important by thinking that their opinions are better than others and hating on anything they feel is an easy target. Losers usually do that kind of stuff. They are like bullies, only against gaming companies and online users. And just like bullies in real life, they are not worth the time.

BloomerNYC
BloomerNYC

 @hihater  @Trickymaster

 So remembering SNES makes you an old man? I'm 25 and remember it well...By the way, Nintendo not having changed isn't a good thing.

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

 @Trickymaster You're done with Nintendo and you say you're buying a Wii JUST for a GameCube? Just buy the actual GameCube then because getting a Wii to NOT play Wii games sounds... rather pointless.

 

Or if you really are done with Nintendo, stay FAR away from their systems.

Sportyfamilycar
Sportyfamilycar

 @abHS4L88

 I agree...my kids would be playing Nintendo consoles...I don't think they need rehashes of games where you kill and slaughter people left and right.

mike9876543210
mike9876543210

 @Trickymaster and Sony didnt experiment, remember the psx, oh wait, you wouldn't as it was only sold in japan and only 100,000 or so were sold, now thats a flop.

Mortz_88
Mortz_88

 @nintendoboy16 Get off your high horse, Nintendo is going down hill and if he wants to buy a Wii to play Gamecube games he can. You're no better than every other Wii fanboy, blind to anything past gameplay and inovation to see that Nintendo is milking products that will not enhance gameplay, will not compete on the same level as Xbox/PS3, I swear its just becoming a joke console now with a handfull of good first party games.