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Developer Chat: Pikmin Creator Shigeru Miyamoto

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Posted on July 29, 2013 AT 08:00am

Before everyone gets all in a huff, we know Shigeru Miyamoto is the man behind Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Donkey Kong, and most every other beloved Nintendo franchise. But since this is a Pikmin-centric interview, we simply referred to him as “Pikmin Creator.” And yes, we were able to get a few minutes with this videogame legend and chat about the upcoming Pikmin 3.

EGM: So, it’s never easy to launch a game—any game—but Pikmin 3 was originally supposed to be a launch window title and got pushed back. What went into that decision to push it back, and what were you able to accomplish with the extra time?

Shigeru Miyamoto: Well, I guess one simple explanation for what happened was, in helping prepare the launch titles, I was a little bit too busy working on NintendoLand and the other games. The other reason is that we had a bit of an extravagant goal with Pikmin 3. We want this to be a game for people who haven’t really played games before. We want this to be a game that, from a controls and gameplay perspective, they can play. Even if they sort of take their time and learn the game rules, they could play through the game and experience it and enjoy it. But at the same time, we want it to be a game that really avid and experienced gamers can very quickly get and jump right into the depth of the gameplay and really experience it through the replayability and the high scores and the challenge that it offers.

This is obviously a very complicated task—to create a game that bridges both of those audiences.  So if we had put some more effort into it, it’s possible that we could’ve released Pikmin 3 earlier and had it ready in February or March, but as we got close to that time frame—and looking at the overall balance between these two desires—we felt that we really wanted to take the time to polish them both up just the right way so that everyone who plays the game is going to be totally satisfied with it.

EGM: You mentioned that you were helping work on the Wii U’s other launch titles, and you’re known as the father of so many beloved Nintendo franchises. How do you balance your time between so many given projects?

SM: I—obviously—am getting up there in age, and getting to the point where it wouldn’t be strange if something happened and I wasn’t with the company anymore. Because of this, we’ve been preparing for the day when I might not be there, and part of that process has really been bringing up the younger developers and producers and getting them to a point where they can run many of these series on their own.  So we have someone in charge of the new Super Mario Bros. series, someone else on the Zelda series.  They’re working really hard on developing those games on their own, and I’ll only look at them from time to time. What this allows me to do is really spend my time on the projects that I really want to devote my time to.

EGM: What new features have the Wii U and its controller allowed you to bring to Pikmin 3?

SM: Well, we have three different explorers now.  So this means you can have three different teams working independently, doing different things at the same time.  Usually what you would have to do is, if you had one or two explorers, you would be sending little Pikmin to a task and you would have to run around and find out where they were in terms of their progress on completing that task.  Now, with the new map and site controls that you can access via the Wii U GamePad, you can quickly jump from one place to another and you can see on the map how done they are with their tasks and if I can sign them a new task. So it really helps you to efficiently manage your resources as you build your strategies to play the game.

Beyond that, we also have the pointing technology, which we first utilized on the Wii version that we re-released with the new play controls. With Pikmin 3, we are taking more advantage of the Wii MotionPlus functionality that’s in the Wii Remote. It’s really helpful when aiming precisely at specific areas of the enemies. So, for example, in the previous games, you would simply charge at your enemies with all your Pikmin and they would try to destroy the enemies to defeat them.  With Pikmin 3, what you can do is you can aim at specific parts of the enemy.  So you might attack a Bulborb specifically on the eye, which prevents it from seeing, and so it can’t attack at the Pikmin as long as the Pikmin are attacking it’s eyes. That gives you a window to then attack from another direction on it to defeat that enemy.  So with the use of Wii MotionPlus combined with the pointer technology, it makes it much easier to be a lot more strategic both in terms of how you’re issuing commands to the Pikmin but also in terms of how you’re attacking certain enemies.

EGM: Was there ever a thought of doing some kind of Pikmin tie-in for the 3DS?

SM: Well, certainly there are a lot of options, and my dreams have a lot of potential possibilities for Pikmin, but we really wanted to focus on sort of creating the ultimate version of the strategic-action gameplay of Pikmin, and we were able to do that with Wii U. We thought it was just the right, perfect hardware for Pikmin 3, so that was our focus this time. But I think that in the future we’ll certainly have opportunities to look at ways that we can bridge Pikmin across different consoles or other ideas that may come up.

EGM: The Nintendo faithful in general are very hardcore. How is Pikmin reaching out and helping cultivate that community this time around?

SM: Well, there are a couple of ways that we kind of encourage people to connect with each other with regard to the game. One is that Pikmin is certainly a game in which strategic moves and advice and things are going to be a lot more plentiful and a lot more useful to the gameplay than even something like a Mario Kart with its shortcuts. With Pikmin, there will be plenty of opportunity for people to go into Miiverse and really help give each other advice on ways to better approach their levels and how they can work their way through them, or ways to get higher scores and things like that, because the strategic depth is so deep in this game.

But the other is also a Miiverse functionality that does take advantage of the GamePad. This is something where, with a GamePad, you’re able to go into a first-person view in the game and snap photos.  Essentially, you can get down to a viewpoint that’s similar to the Pikmin’s. With this, what you can do is take pictures and try to get people to guess where in the game you found this, or perhaps find very funny pictures of things that people didn’t anticipate would happen.  Then they can exchange those pictures over Miiverse, which I think is going to help build that communication and help give fans a way to really engage with Pikmin 3.

Pikmin 3 launches exclusively on Wii U August 4 in North America, and is currently available at retailers and the Nintendo eShop in Japan, Europe, and Australia.

Ray Carsillo, Reviews Editor
Ray Carsillo has extensive roots in geek culture, as he’s written about videogames, comics, and movies for such outlets as Newsday.com, ESPNNewYork.com, Classic Game Room on YouTube, Collider.com, and Comicvine.com before finally settling into his role as EGM’s reviews editor. His main goal in life? To become king of all geek media, of course! Follow Ray’s exploits on Twitter: @RayCarsillo. Meet the rest of the crew.

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