E3 2001: First look at Nintendo's Pikmin

Read details and see shots of Shigeru Miyamoto's pet project for the Nintendo GameCube.

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When Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto introduced his newest game for the Nintendo GameCube at the Nintendo press conference this morning, he did so with the preamble, "We wanted to make something that was unique." Unique is definitely a fitting term for the game, which will be released along at the GameCube's launch next November. Pikmin focuses on a species of plant on a faraway planet that is a hybrid of plant and ant. You play as a miniature spaceman, who crash lands on the planet and must enlist the help of the stalk-like Pikmin to aid you in retrieving the missing pieces of your ship.

These creatures can be plucked out of the ground and set to carry out many different tasks through what basically seems to be a point-and-click style interface. The Pikmin can pick up objects, destroy walls, build bridges and forts, and so on. Larger objects require greater numbers of Pikmin to move. In the demo, Miyamoto showed a lone Pikmin trying to pick up an object that would require five to move, which made it launch into a funny, frustrated animation.

In another demonstration, a large group of Pikmin encountered one of their natural predators on the planet, a creature with the coloring of a ladybug and a cartoon monster face. The animal started scooping up groups of Pikmin and gobbling them up when they attempted a frontal assault, but when Miyamoto directed them to attack it from behind, it soon expired.

Miyamoto explained that there are three stages in the Pikmin life cycle--leaf, bud, and flower--and the creatures come in three different colors, each one representing different characteristics. The game is played from a third-person perspective with a camera that's farther away from the action than in most games, apparently so you can see the many creatures you need to control on-screen at once. After you've spent some time in the game, said Miyamoto, you'll come to influence the world around you more and more.

We'll have a hands-on report of the game to see how these original concepts play out tomorrow.

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