Pikmin 3 preview

By Ozzie Mejia, Jun 05, 2012 7:15pm PDT

QUICKTAKE: The Pikmin series returns after an eight-year hiatus and helps launch Nintendo's next-gen console with its classic formula. Pikmin 3 shows off the HD prowess of the Wii U with a vibrant, colorful world. The Pikmin series also moves forward with the debut of Rock Pikmin (the first of several new variations) and new Pikmin abilities.

THE DEMO: The public demo featured a seven-minute time trial stage that tasked the new series protagonist with gathering fruit. Doing so involved freeing the Rock Pikmin from captivity and finding new ways to use the Red Pikmin. A boss battle featured a gigantic parasite with fearsome pincers.

DETAILS: Pikmin 3 built on the prior Pikmin titles (albeit without Captain Olimar, who's sitting this one out) by offering much of the same intuitive gameplay with some handy new control mechanics. This demo was played primarily with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, with the Wii U GamePad being used as an overhead map. If I found myself lost, finding my way was a simple matter of looking at the GamePad. I could also slide my finger along the GamePad touch screen to move the camera towards a desired area.

Managing the Pikmin remains a simple matter of gathering them together with the B button, while aiming at targets with the Wii Remote. There wasn't much in the way of enemies in this demo, but I was quick to chuck Pikmin towards the few creatures that did threaten me. One enemy was a flying blob-like creature that was holding several Rock Pikmin inside its body. After disposing of it, I added the Rock Pikmin to my army.

Sending Pikmin to do my bidding is just as satisfying as ever. In addition to using them against enemies, I could also use them to open up paths for me. I chucked Red Pikmin at a sandy structure and watched them eat away at it. Rock Pikmin could likewise be used to break through crystallized structures. Red Pikmin have also been granted the ability to build bridges. After finding random chunks of rock near a gap, I sent the Red Pikmin to collect them and watched as they put together a solid bridge.

After I finished my fruit-collecting quest, I jumped into a boss battle. A large blue parasite sporting pincers, a hard shell, and hundreds of legs came to fight me in an arena setting. Defeating the creature involved tossing Pikmin at its head while avoiding its lunges. Several hidden pockets of Pikmin lined up corners of the area, in case I needed reinforcements. The boss battle wasn’t overly difficult and painted a good picture of what to expect out of Pikmin 3's lush new world.

While Pikmin 3 may not represent a giant leap in gameplay innovation, it does serve as a banner title for Nintendo's jump into HD. The Pikmin and their world have never looked better, thanks to its crisp, higher-resolution textures. It should make long-time fans of the series happy and also show off just what the Wii U can do visually.

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