Pikmin 3 preview First hands-on with Nintendos return to nature

Rumored for what seems like ages, hardcore Nintendo fans have been dying for Nintendo and developer mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto to return to the Pikmin series. A novel approach to the RTS genre that mixed in naturalistic elements, we hadn’t seen the little carrot-ant men since the GameCube. E3 2012 marks their big return, with the distinction of being one of the first and biggest Wii U games, and after our first playthrough with the HD sequel, it looks to be what fans of the cult series are looking for.

As we stepped up we weren’t handed the new tablet-esque Gamepad, instead getting our hands on the familiar Wii Remote and Nunchuk set-up. Controlling one of the new human characters (Olimar has been replaced for mysterious reasons), we walked around with the stick while moving around the reticle with the Remote. It was such a straightforward set-up that fit so well with the Pikmin gameplay of directing your army of colorful men. We called them to attention and switched units on the fly, making us regret that natural the Remote/Nunchuk set-up was never used for a game on the Wii. Meanwhile, the Gamepad is meant to be left still, displaying a map, thus clearing up the HUD on your TV.

We started off with the challenge mode, with the goal of collecting as much fruit as possible. We entered the maze-like map picking up men as we went. We grabbed strawberries, cherries, and more while also fighting it out with many familiar enemies. After tearing down walls with the classic red and purple Pikmin, we met the new Rock Pikmin. Though not the best at carrying, Rock Pikmins have a tough exterior that made them perfect projectiles. We tossed them at hardened enemies, breaking through the armored exteriors to the creamy insides.

After trying out the food challenge, we then went into boss mode to see how our collective could handle something bigger. Soon we were face-to-face with a huge creature that seemed to be an armored millipede that was quick to encircle us. Once we got a handle on how to quickly swing around the camera, we soon noticed that our red Pikmin weren’t making much of a dent, while our Rock Pikmin started were starting to crack the outside. Once the beast’s skull armor was knocked away by our rocky friends, we started tossing on our red Pikkmin on masse and they started tearing it a new face hole.

Though we weren’t able to finish it off in our five minute demo, we’re betting the creature won’t be so lucky next time. In the meantime, we can say for certain that Nintendo is making a true sequel to Pikmin, not some side game or half-step. The HD graphics look great and if it can actually be out in time for the Wii U’s launch, it could end up being the must have first party release.

Henry Gilbert

Henry Gilbert is a former GamesRadar+ Editor, having spent seven years at the site helping to navigate our readers through the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation. Henry is now following another passion of his besides video games, working as the producer and podcast cohost of the popular Talking Simpsons and What a Cartoon podcasts.