Pikmin 3 Preview

There's nothing like fresh Bulborb meat.

Ah, Pikmin. Shigeru Miyamoto's baby. One of his many babies, of course (the man gets around a lot), but deserving of just as much love as your Marios and your Donkey Kongs. What better way to usher in a new Nintendo console?

While the first Pikmin was innovative as hell, the sequel followed the same formula very closely, and from what I've seen at E3, this one does the same. You still have a cadre of Pikmin (not to be confused with pokemans) that follow you around and do your bidding with no regard whatsoever for their own fragile lives. You're still limited to a day's time to gather supplies for fuel and toss your colorful little soldiers at all the Bulborbs you can handle.

But the formula is still addictive and unlike any other game out there, so why mess with a good thing? Pikmin 3 does introduce some new Pikmin species, however, the first of which was integral to success in the demo. Rock Pikmin, which look more like walking pebbles with the obligatory flower on their heads than the Pikmin we all know and love, cause high initial damage when thrown and also smash hard substances like crystal. The catch is that they're too heavy to latch onto objects for continuous damage like their smaller counterparts.

The Rock Pikmins' usefulness was easily apparent in a boss battle against a giant armored centipede. It took many Rocks chucked at the boss' armored shell to crack open segments revealing the soft meat underneath. At that point, it was more effective to switch to good old Red Pikmin to swarm the creature's exposed back and pound it with their tiny fists.

The controls felt comfortable and intuitive with the trusty Wii Remote, while the Wii U tablet was relegated to a simple map viewer for demo purposes. I was assured, however, that the final game will fully support tablet control as well. I can't really see how it would be an improvement over the point-'n'-click nature of the Remote, but only time will tell.

Olimar is conspicuously absent, but there are more than enough new playable characters that the Pikmin will have no shortage of whistling, domineering dictators when the sequel lands on Wii U.