Hordes of fans have been waiting for nearly a decade for another sequel in the Pikmin franchise, and finally Miyamoto's teasing hints of a Pikmin 3 have been realized with the game arriving around the same time as the Wii U launches later this year. Personally, I never played either of the first two games in the series, and I'm not sure why. Strategy games are kind of hit-or-miss for me, and there were always other games I wanted to play more, so Pikmin kind of passed me by. But having played a demo of Pikmin 3, I can safely say I get it now. I totally get it.
Nintendo is being deliberately vague about the actual plot of Pikmin 3, promising answers soon, but not yet. In the demo, it's just one little area with red Pikmin and the new rock type. While the game will be playable with either the Wii U GamePad or the Wiimote/Nunchuck combination, the demo only had the latter option, so I can't speak to the GamePad controls. The GamePad was in front of me the whole time, and there was an overhead map on the touch screen, but I never used it. Not once. I was too busy playing, and it wasn't in my hands, so I kept forgetting about it. I suppose if I was playing with the GamePad, though, I'd be more apt to glance down at it periodically to get the lay of the land.
The game looks fantastic, with very realistic environments and adorable Pikmin and creatures everywhere. The contrast of cartoony characters and photo-realistic backgrounds is rather striking. I played both the regular game demo and the boss battle, and while both looked spectacular, I only encountered camera trouble on the boss, because he moved around so much. I kept having to readjust the camera, which was kind of annoying. But I was determined to defeat the boss... I may have failed to collect enough fruit in the time limit in the main game demo, but I blame that on having to be instructed in the game's ins and outs for the first few minutes. That boss was going down, and he went down hard. (Eventually)
One of the main new features of Pikmin 3 that has been announced so far is the replay option. After completing a mission, you can view a replay of the mission on the GamePad touch screen. It's an overhead view of the regular map, with little icons to indicate your position, your Pikmin's position, and also the location of any items that could be collected. You can watch the little icons move around the screen and see what you missed and what you could have done more efficiently. A slider at the bottom of the screen lets you rewind, fast-forward and skip around to specific moments of gameplay. Because fans of the series liked to replay missions over and over to get the best times and scores possible, Nintendo thought they'd help out by making it easier to plan your next attack. I saw tons of fruit that I missed out on, and where I could have created a shortcut that might have allowed me to finish before the time ran out.
The Pikmin 3 trailer obviously hints at some kind of multiplayer, with four players trading Pikmin, but at this point, Nintendo is being tight-lipped about any details. Sorry, I tried. But I'm sure at some later date they'll announce more information on that aspect of the game, and seeing as how the social aspects of the Wii U are being touted heavily, I would be surprised if there wasn't online as well as local multiplayer. But we'll have to wait and see! Now I suppose I should go pick up Pikmin 2 for the Wii on the cheap at some point over the summer to get ready...