Where Will the Pikmin Put Down Their Roots?
When it was revealed last week by Nintendo legend that Pikmin 4 was not only in development, but also nearing completion, speculation took off like wildfire that the game was bound for Wii U, Nintendo’s currently codenamed NX system or both – The 3DS has even been suggested in some other corners of the internet. With everyone having their own two cents on the matter, I felt it was high time I contributed to the conversation; weighing up both the possibilities that each of these outcomes before contributing my gut feeling on the matter.
3DS is perhaps the least likely place to serve as the home for Pikmin 4, but the 3DS as the home for the game is perhaps not as outlandish as it may initially seem. One of the keys to the Pikmin franchise is its control; since you’re micromanaging different groups of Pikmin at any given moment, having dual screen controls becomes key to accomplishing your daily goals in the game. Pikmin 3 on Wii U proved that dual screen presentation allowed the player to play more strategically than in previous iterations and the same logic can be applied to Pikmin 4 if it were to come to 3DS. Streetpass functionality could add new possibilities while 3D could also create some clever puzzle based platforming as players search for those elusive pieces of fruit. Though an unlikely proposition, the 3DS could quite plausibly serve as home for the fourth Pikmin entry, and there’s no reason why it couldn’t shine.
If Nintendo is intending to create a very ‘by the numbers’ sequel, then there’s no reason why Pikmin 4 couldn’t land on the Wii U. The franchise has already proven itself to be a success on the platform, and there’s no reason why Nintendo couldn’t and wouldn’t want to return to the well once again. Pikmin 3 was a hit because of its intuitive use of the gamepad, dual-screen mechanics and incredible visuals, with the Wii U powering the game, Pikmin 4 could also shine on the system just as its predecessor did.
Perhaps the most intriguing prospect is the NX; a system that we currently know nothing about. Nintendo has declared that they will introduce the system to the world in 2016, but we don’t yet know if the system itself will be released in the same year. If they’re being that up front about when we’ll know more about the system then who is to say that they don’t already have a range of games developed and ready to unleash with the system on launch. Nintendo has been rightly criticized in the past about a lack of quality games supporting the launch of their newest hardware, but if Pikmin 4 is nearly complete then perhaps it is set for the NX and with the game done they can shift their focus towards the next AAA title that they may also want to launch the system with.
What can’t be ruled out either is the possibility that they will launch Pikmin 4 with both the Wii U and NX, either simultaneously or within a short period of time of one another. We saw the same strategy come from Nintendo back when The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on both the Gamecube and the Wii to much success – though fans were quick to point out that the Gamecube version was the superior due to its more traditional handling. Despite the fact that it’s likely that Wii U and NX will be controlled very differently there’s no reason that like in the case of Twilight Princess, Pikmin 4 will be developed to suit both systems control schemes.
Nintendo seems to be keen to start the Wii U’s long ride into the horizon, so to me it seems quite unlikely that we’ll see Pikmin 4 land on the Wii U. The system itself is quite underpowered, even for a system that released in 2012, and it is for this reason I strongly believe that Pikmin 4 will release exclusively for the NX. That’s not to say that NX will be a super high powered system as Nintendo has always prioritised gameplay over graphics but a superior system opens up the door for fresh gameplay opportunities as well as well as new visual punch. Pikmin 4, like Pikmin 3 before it has the opportunity to do something new for the franchise and the NX may create the possibilities for the game that the Wii U may not have allowed for.
No matter where it lands, Pikmin 4 has shot up high on many Nintendo fans most wanted lists, though for it to have the biggest possible impact I do feel that it needs to be a game that comes exclusively for the NX. When we’ll find out where Pikmin 4 is headed is anybody’s guess, but until then we can only theorise, speculate and anticipate.