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E3 2012 | Take a Third Trip Back to the Pikmin Planet

Posted on June 8, 2012 AT 08:17pm

It’s been a long time since we returned to the Pikmin planet with Captain Olimar and Louie.  Eight years later, here we are playing Pikmin 3 on the Wii U at E3 2012.  Whenever a game sequel is released that long after the previous game, it’s hard not to build up the franchise in your mind and expect the world from an upcoming sequel.  Thankfully, Nintendo has offered up the world on a platter with Pikmin 3.  With everything that made the other games great and a host of new and enhanced features, this looks to be a Wii U game that no one should be without.

Controlling Pikmin 3 can be done in one of two ways.  You can either use the Wii Remote and Nunchuck combination as seen in the Wii releases of the first two games or you can use the Wii U Gamepad.  With the former, you point at the screen to direct your pikmin and move the leader with the analog stick on the Nunchuck.  One big advantage to this setup is that with the Gamepad freed up, you can use it as your map and keep track of everything.  When using the Wii U Gamepad as the main controller, the built-in analog stick acts as your movement and you tilt it to direct the pikmin.  A great advantage to this mode of control is that you can use the touch screen to manage your pikmin from afar.

My personal favorite setup involved using the Wii Remote, at least for the demo I played, because it gave me a bit more precise control over where I wanted to put my pikmin.  When the game launches, sometime in the launch window of the Wii U, I can see using a bit of both methods, because you’re going to be able to have up to four leaders out in the field at once.  This thought boggles my mind at the moment, but I’m looking forward to being able to manage all that craziness on the touch screen of the Gamepad.

In the demo, there were two modes of play being highlighted.  One was a collection time trial and the other was a boss battle.  In the time trial mode, the only goal was to get around the area and bring as much fruit, and dead creatures, back to your ship as quickly as possible.  This mode most closely resembled the classic Pikmin gameplay that we all know and love and was both very true to form and has some nice new surprises.

You start out in the landing area for your ship and immediately begin gathering the red pikmin in the area.  After collecting the various small fruit in the area, you move on and begin attacking some dwarf bulborb and bring them back to earn some extra points.  From there you can break down barriers that lead to hidden away sections and can even contain a few extra pikmin.  The are also little piles of gold that will net you a decent score over time, so it’s good to set a few working on it.  Part of the way through, you stumble across a greater spotted jellyfloat that seems to have something inside of it.  After giving it the beatdown with your red pikmin, we free the trapped rock pikmin which are brand new to the series.  Once you’ve obtained the rock pikmin, you can bust through walls and even damage some previously impervious enemies by tossing them in their direction.  While they seem pretty impervious, I’m told that they are weak against fire and not so fond of the water.

In the older games, to build a bridge, you would send a fleet of your pikmin towards this log-looking thing and it would slowly unfold into a bridge.  In this game, there was a pile of individual tiles that make up an entire bridge and the pikmin would snap them into place one by one.  I love the attention to detail this brings and it makes it much more interesting to watch them build the bridge, which might not be a good thing if you’re crunching for time.  The rest of the graphical detail made great use of the new Wii U hardware.  Getting up close to everything, there was a lot of detail mapped to each piece of the environment and the characters.

The boss mode had you squaring off with a new type of creature to the Pikmin universe.  Giant and centipede-like, this creature had armor all over its body.  Lucky for you, there are some rock pikmin handy to chink away at it by tossing your new friends at each of the individual sections.  After a few square hits, you expose the skin underneath and throw everything you’ve got at it.

Captain Olimar is surprisingly absent from what we’ve seen thus far, but Nintendo assures us that this is a secret that will be revealed later on.  Pikmin 3 has been a long-awaited game, by at least one rabid fan, and it looks as though Nintendo does not intend to disappoint.

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