Pikmin 3 is in a rather strange position. While originally planned to be a launch title, the game was delayed and it's now releasing early August. However, it could very well be that the long wait for Pikmin 3 will be worth it, for both fans of the series and new beginners.
The Pikmin franchise (more-so Pikmin 3) has been described by Shigeru Miyamoto as a real time action strategy simulation game, and, while that's a mouthful, it's an accurate statement. To put it in simpler words, you guide a group of multi-colored Pikmin around to fight enemies and gather supplies in a limited amount of time. Pikmin can be thrown at their target and called back via whistle. Each type of Pikmin can do different things such as breathe underwater and be a conduit for severed power lines. You can still grow more Pikmin via flower caps and watch them grow in strength as their headpiece changes from a leaf to a bud to a flower.
While this sounds simple, there is more depth to the game as you play. You will tear down obstacles, build bridges, and solve some puzzles. However, some of these tasks cannot be accomplished unless you have the correct number and type of Pikmin.
Numbers come into play when carrying items. Each item can only be taken by a minimum amount of Pikmin. Above an item are two numbers. The top number indicates how many Pikmin are lifting the item, and the bottom number tells the total you need.
So far, all of these gameplay elements have carried over from Pikmin 1 and 2, but it's also the new elements that make Pikmin 3 such an attractive game.
The first thing you will notice is the graphics which are absolutely gorgeous. At times it looked like each level was literally someone's backyard. Though the monsters still have a cartoonish look about them, Pikmin 3 has a look of reality about it that you may not have expected.
Pikmin 3 can be completed at your own pace. There are no more limited days and no more trying to complete the rocket each day. This change of pace is Nintendo's attempt to make the game more enjoyable for the less-than hard core fans and the newbies, of course.
There's also the addition of two new Pikmin (rock and flying Pikmin) joining the Red, Blue, Yellow, White, and Purple ones. The rock types are used to smash glass barriers and crack an enemy's armor while the flying types are affective against certain enemies such as the swarming bees. From what we've seen, it's safe to say these Pikmin are indeed practical and not just a gimmick.
In Pikmin 3 you can attack specific areas of enemies. For example, an enemy's eyes can be targeted which will blind him temporarily. If the enemy is too strong to defeat, you can come back the next day and he will still have the same damage as before.
In terms of main characters, you will utilize three different captains named Charlie, Alf, and Brittney which you can swap between throughout the game. This not only helps you traverse the map faster, but also helps with time management.
Pikmin 3 will be compatible with the regular Wii Mote, Wii U GamePad, and Wii U Pro Controller to fit anyone's play-style. While the Wii Mote may be the more familiar and comfortable control scheme, the GamePad lets you look at the map at any point in the game.
The map works much like the ones found in RTS games. The entire map is black, but, as you explore, the darkness recedes revealing where you are and what items you have passed.
Just as with other games, you can play the game on the GamePad by itself when the TV is off.
There are three game modes in Pikmin 3: Story, Mission Mode, and Bingo Battle. Story Mode is, of course, the story. Using the three captains, you visit the Pikmin planet to find fruit to feed your world as well as use the plant's seeds to grow food back home.
Mission Mode has you take on various levels to get a high score within seven minutes or more. You try your best to increase your score by collecting fruit and defeating enemies. You can use various tactics such as ignoring fruit first to build bridges that will cut your Pikmin's travel time when they carry fruit back to base.
Bingo Battle is split screen multiplayer. Each player has a card with items they need to collect. Whoever collects a row of fruit wins. There's also a spinning roulette wheel for each player. These wheels are used to hinder the other player such as dropping boulders or casting lightning. Since you're both on the same map, you can take one another's required fruit before they reach it, hampering their progress.
Although three game modes are not very many, they certainly seem fleshed out enough to be a time-kill, but this is conjecture alone.
There are not many more days until August 4th reaches us, and as each day passes, Pikmin 3 looks all the more amazing. Whether or not Pikmin 3 is Nintendo's killer app is debatable, but it certainly seems that it will be able please gamers from all across the board.