It's been nearly eight years since players were introduced to Pikmin on the GameCube. The unique game cast you in the role of stranded astronaut Captain Olimar. In the story, the unlucky spacefarer is marooned after his spaceship is knocked to bits by an asteroid. The game tasked you with rebuilding Olimar's ship and getting him off of the planet before his life support runs out. Olimar's only chance is to enslave the local plant population and force them to do his bidding, but in a cute way, considering that it was a Nintendo first-party game. The game offered a surprisingly cool and addictive experience that garnered a loyal fan base and a sequel. Original fans, as well as the several million Wii owners who didn't try the Pikmin series on the GameCube, will soon be able to relive the adventure with the upcoming New Play Control editions of both Pikmin games, due next month on the Wii. We had the chance to talk to Shigefumi Hino, former project leader of the original Pikmin, about the upcoming games and their predecessors.
GameSpot: With regards to the Wii versions, was there any discussion to doing any refinement on the original games, outside of implementing the motion-control support? Why/why not?
Shigefumi Hino: The biggest improvement from the original version, other than the availability of motion control, is the new feature that enables the player to go back to the save points in the past. A fun aspect for Pikmin players will be to go back and improve previous gameplay. Now that the player can leave 30 "Pikmin" days' worth of the save data and can return to each one of them to retry, we are hoping more people will challenge themselves to do their best. We were discussing the possibilities of other enhancements too, but in the end we decided that we wanted to focus on providing new Wii owners with Pikmin as soon as possible.
GS: The motion-control support seems to very naturally implemented. Was it easy to do, or were there different iterations?
SH: We knew that Pikmin was a game best played with very simple play control. Accordingly, we had a belief that using the Wii Remote would make the game feel even better. Even though we had to spend a long time, and went through lots of trial and error working through the play-control elements, we were pleased with the results. Most importantly, I believe the play controls are ideal.
GS: Was there a specific goal set for incorporating the motion control? (For example, was the intention to make it accessible enough for anyone to play it, or simply to offer an alternative to the old control scheme?)
SH: The primary goal for us was to make the play control simple and intuitive. Also, since we were working on the two Pikmin series games simultaneously, we paid attention so that we could unify the play-control styles of the two games.
GS: Looking at the gaming market now versus when the original games were released, do you feel the gaming audience will be more or less receptive to the games, given the new gamers brought in by the Wii?
SH: Pikmin was a very unique and original game already when it was first released on GameCube and, even today, it is very unique. Since a number of female users were also enjoying playing with the original Pikmin, it is well suited to the expanded gaming audience on Wii.
GS:While the games weren't sales juggernauts for the GameCube, they have definitely had a very vocal and devoted fan base. What do you think it was about the games that has garnered that kind of a fan base?
SH: There is nothing more encouraging to us developers than to hear about enthused fans. The biggest factor of this game which fans found interesting must be its very original game system and concept. Also adding to the uniqueness were the original ideas found in each component of this game, such as the graphics, sound, and the creatures themselves. Since I believe this is a game which can be appreciated by a wider audience, I am hopeful that this Wii version will be enjoyed by a lot more players.
GS: While many assume a new Pikmin would be a perfect fit for the Wii, do you think a Pikmin game would work on the Nintendo DS?
SH: As Nintendo DS has its own unique advantages, it would be possible to create a gameplay-control mechanism which would be good for and unique to Pikmin.
GS: What is your most vivid memory of working on the Pikmin games for the GameCube?
SH: I still can clearly recall the first time that I saw multiple Pikmin working together to carry a big opponent. Until then, we had been struggling to find the direction that this game should have, but when these "carry" actions were completed, we were able to determine the future of Pikmin.
GS: Looking back now, how do you think the games have held up?
SH: If Pikmin are killed in the game by accident, you feel very sad. I think it is because Pikmin exist somewhere in our minds as living creatures, not just as mere digital data. It might be due to their strong will to live that the game called Pikmin has been able to stay in the fans' hearts.
GS: Is there anything you wish had been done differently?
SH: We think we have done the best we could, so there are no specific regrets. This is a game which still feels fresh to the players today, so I hope that many people will enjoy themselves.
GS: Thanks for your time.