Starting their life on the Nintendo GameCube some ten years ago, the Pikmin have been one of Nintendo's smallest, and most underserved mascots - until last week, anyway, with the announcement of Pikmin 3. Unveiled at the E3 gaming expo in LA, Pikmin 3 blew our socks off, and now we're counting down the days until the Wii U launches, when we'll be able to step into an odd and unusual planet, and befriend an entire army of these cute (pl)ant-like creatures for ourselves. As a quick crash course in the basics of how Pikmin works, there are many different species of Pikmin, and each different colour has it's own special ability – red Pikmin are fireproof, whereas yellow can carry bombs, whilst the blue variant can breathe underwater. There's also purple Pikmin, who are much heavier and stronger and capable of lifting much heavier objects than regular Pikmin, white Pikmin, who are resistant to poison and the brand-new rock Pikmin, which can be thrown at certain objects to break them apart - there's also potentially a pink flying Pikmin, if the end of the trailer is anything to go by. Worshipping you like some sort of spaceman-God, the Pikmin will huddle around you and do your bidding - so by pointing at an obstacle and pressing A, you'll be able to send each Pikmin off to put their powers to good use, as you explore the planet, make your way past obstacles, defeat enemies and more.
When Pikmin 3 was shown off at Nintendo's E3 conference last week, what was particularly inconspicuous was the way they announced that there were four distinct characters to play as - none of which were the Captain Olimar from the previous games. Each character has their own distinct army, and it was said you'll need to switch between them during the game – but that may not necessarily be true. Since their conference last week, Nintendo have revealed that the series will have a same console co-operative multiplayer mode, meaning there stands a much greater chance that each of the four captains will be controlled by a friend, who're all working together to explore the planet – or it may just be limited to a few specific multiplayer levels, a la Pikmin 2. We're hoping it's the former.
When it first occurred to us that multiplayer may be a possibility, we couldn't help wondering quite how it would work out – the obvious would be splitting the screen into four, but then everyone would have a tiny box in which to play a game that covers a pretty big area, which may be a little bit awkward to say the least. Then we pondered whether the new, online-ready Nintendo would have Pikmin as their flagship online title, showcasing the Wii U's new features – but alas, Miyamoto, the man behind Mario, Zelda, Pikmin and other beloved Nintendo franchises, announced it was not to be. Apparently, it's a story of technical the difficulties of having “lots of individual, small creatures, the Pikmin, whose movement and location is going to be really important in the game” making it “very difficult over an internet connection” - don't worry Shigeru, we prefer local multiplayer anyway.
There's no release date for Pikmin 3 yet – all that we know is that it'll launch within the first few months of the Nintendo Wii U. Which we don't know the release date for either. Hopefully we'll have more on both Pikmin 3 and the Wii U in the coming weeks though, so stay turned.