The weekend of Wondercon 2013 was a fun time, but of all the moments during the convention, the first 20 minutes were the most exciting for me. One of the first booths I ever looked at was Nintendo, because honestly, you couldn't miss them. I wasn't expecting much but my soul sort of shattered when I saw the playable demo for Pikmin 3. I have been excited for this game since the dawn of it's announcement, and pretty much a span of four years before that and finally being able to play it was a good experience.
Pikmin 3 for Wii U
I enjoyed both Pikmins 1 and 2 even though they were both launched on the Gamecube way back when. Nintendo skipped a whole generation for this game so you would hope it would be good. Because of the Wii U, I was thinking in my head on how the game would utilize the Wii U pad since the controls involved the Wii's traditional wii-mote + nunchuk combo. That wasn't a bad thing, but it took me awhile to get used to the point-action controls they were going for -- you point the Wii-mote in the direction you want to throw or whistle Pikmin back. A combination of the left trigger and pointing helped as that button reverted the camera to the front.
More Pikmin, More screens!
Alright so now let's actually begin. The demo gives you two choices of play. Trial Course and Boss Battles. I was fortunate enough to be able to try both to see what the game has to offer in-terms of gameplay and that old warm feeling inside of having cute fun with a puzzle game.
The game let's you play as... Actually i'm not sure if it's Olimar or Lui. It sort of looks like old Captain Olimar but the costume and lighting were blue. Well, it doesn't matter all too much for the purpose of this demo. Aside from being the controller of Pikmin, you really can't do much except for move, throw, and whistle. At the start of your run, you are given access to red pikmin which are fairly standard, and as most fans know, are fire-proof. As you progress, eventually you will run into one of the new flavors of Pikmin, the Rock Pikmin, which are heavier and can be thrown to break hard objects like ice or crystallized sap.
Going back to the Wii U pad, the device is actually used as an overhead view map which helps in strategizing and seeing everything so it's easier to navigate certain areas. I found this to be an excellent idea. Sure, I would have loved to use the whole thing as a controller, but the complimentary usage felt way better than holding the darn thing.
That's not a TV, that's a window.
The game is incredibly fluid and the graphics have been significantly improved from its outdated counterparts but still retains the cartoony feeling Pikmin fans have always enjoyed. In this game, the world is far more alive. Bugs moving in the background, wind blowing, motion in the grass and plants, and Pikmin doing different actions when they're not doing anything like lying down or kicking their feet. Nintendo did a really good job with immersion for this one. No, it wasn't meant to be a AAA 3D-action extravaganza, but the world they place you in during your time with the Pikmin is a mysterious one and the feeling of "anything can happen" is there.
Pikmin 3 does Pikmin justice
The whistle and Pikmin throwing is really responsive and they do exactly what you want them to. No re-whistling or re-throwing for silly reasons. The only thing is the Pikmin don't do anything unless you whistle to them but that's actually a game mechanic. You have to keep your Pikmin in check or they'll get eaten or crushed because they don't know the definition of "dodge" or "run away."
Apparently, there are also many many ways to solve puzzles and complete objectives. This was apaprent after watching other people play the demo since they ran a different scenario from what I did. I chose to just play the game straight through for the purpose of this impression, but other players were able to throw pikmin in higher or otherwise unreachable places, only for the little guys to build a bridge with debri on the otherside to help you cross over and create shortcuts. Guess you'll miss out on a chunk of the level but that's great for speed-runs or something of the likes. This is where the Wii U pad comes in handy.
All in all, the game was fantastic. Oh how I missed watching the little rascals pick-up gigantic fruit and carry it back to my mothership. The story was never mentioned in the playthrough but i'm curious on where it's headed since you know, you're back again for more Pikmin for a third time.
At this time, Pikmin 3 is slated for a Spring 2013 release and is, without a doubt, heading to the Wii U exclusives list.