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E3 2012: Pikmin 3 hands-on

E3 2012

Despite the overall lack of true forward movement in the conferences, one of the most memorable moments from the show came in the Nintendo conference. It started in the best possible way, with Miyamoto picking up a Pikmin and placing it into his suit before coming on-stage and announcing the long-anticipated sequel for the clever and adorable strategy franchise. It was one of those big moments that happen at E3 and while the Nintendo conference may have leveraged its best thing upfront, it’s something that’ll stick with us.

The trailer shown perfectly captured the delight and magic of what the Nintendo brand means to gamers, placing spirited characterful adventures above all else. They focus on the craft rather than chasing the most powerful technical experience. Because as videogames age, that’s the only part that actually matters.

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Soon after the conference, we were able to go hands-on with Nintendo’s first big franchise Wii U title. When we stepped up to the console and were handed a Wii Remote while the actual controller sat in front of us, there was a realization of a missed opportunity. The idea that Nintendo was starting out next gen with the same form of control we’ve already experienced on the Wii, with motion controls. There was some interaction with the Wii U, as we were able to look around the screen by sliding over the map fit onto the Wii U display.

The mechanics work as expected for a Pikmin title. The bright little plant creatures work as a swarm, collecting supplies, breaking down barriers, and taking out threatening plant life in the area. They work under the command of a mysterious spaceman who flings them towards their objective and commands the units. It’s a cheerful little scenario that takes a kind of naturalistic concept from the real world and implements it in the way that’s most interesting as a videogame.

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And so we wandered through the forest-like biom of Pikmin 3’s demo level and created production lines with rows of Pikmin scattering and accumulating fuel the rocket, providing medals based on score. We were introduced to a new type of Rock Pikmin which helped to dismantle walls and specific areas the plain ones could not, suggesting a wider possible array for the elemental kinds that might make it into the final release.

While it’s not a new IP, the return of this much-loved franchise comes with a bit of excitement for any fan of Nintendo or creativity within the industry. Pikmin’s one of those titles that brings sustenance to the strategy genre while many of the entries are heavily war-focused and completely self-serious. Pikmin 3 is set to release within the Wii U’s launch title and after going hands-on, has reminded us why we play Nintendo games.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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