Nintendo is under a lot of pressure to make Pikmin 3 a success. The imperative has less to do with commercial considerations - Shigeru Miyamoto's charming little strategy game has never been about selling millions upon millions of copies - than it does with meeting the expectations of the fans, who have taken the servile buds to their hearts over the years. Patience is running thin and after a five-year on/off development period fan expectation has never been higher.
That said, Nintendo is obviously trying to make Pikmin 3 the hit it so richly deserves to be. Whether it's releasing the original Pikmin and its sequel, Pikmin 2, on the Wii (they were originally GameCube titles), using the cheeky little scamps to perform data transfers from 3DS to 3DS XL and Wii to Wii U, or giving the series its very own attraction in Nintendo Land, the very most is being done to embed the game in our subconscious. And it's working.
No Room At The 'Min
Originally targeting a March/April release, Pikmin 3 has now been shifted back to a vague 'Q2'. This could be because Miyamoto and his team want more time to bring the experience in line with everyone's expectations.
Miyamoto's comments from last E3 (June 2012), where he revealed that the team still wasn't sure whether they preferred Wii Remote or GamePad controls, were very telling. You may or may not know that Pikmin 3 was never intended to be a Wii U title at all. Indeed, there was much debate over whether it should be a console title at all.
As much as we love the 3DS, we're glad that the HD graphics and dual-screen abilities of the Wii U convinced the team otherwise. Much of the game was developed as a Wii sequel and it's easy to see why it might be so hard for the development team to drag itself away from such a perfect control system.
The action of pointing and selecting units of Pikmin with the Wii Remote is hard to improve upon. Still, we have no reason to doubt Miyamoto's judgment and if anything the latest snippets of the game we've seen show a glorious world that easily exceeds even our already sky-high expectations.
For those unfamiliar with the GameCube originals, you took on the role of Captain Olimar, a hardworking rocket ship pilot who crash-landed on a strange planet inhabited by a curious and unnaturally friendly race called the Pikmin. Their inability to form independent thoughts simultaneously makes them amazing workers and easy prey for anything nasty and hungry that might be lurking nearby. The same goes for ONM staff.
So, while Olimar could use them to help collect his strewn ship parts, he also needed to be their eyes and ears, lest they walked straight into the open mouth of indigenous Pikmin-munchers.
Olimar has yet to be seen in Pikmin 3, but the game is still a constant struggle of the mind and the heart: not only does it require strategic thinking, but also a heart of steel, as you create an inevitable attachment with the tiny creatures who have placed their lives in your hands.
There is nothing more horrifying than hearing the heart-shredding sound of a dozen dying Pikmin, their tiny voices begging why you would betray them after everything they've done for you. It sends a shiver of shame racing down our spine just thinking about it. The latest mesmerising footage of Pikmin 3 proves that, if anything, the emotional ties are set to become yet stronger. Strategy plays an even bigger part with the Pikmin now becoming an even more integral part of your success.