Last fall brought us most exciting news: Pikmin 4 is in the works! And yet, while series creator Shigeru Miyamoto claimed it was nearly complete, we’ve yet to hear anything else about the elusive sequel (much less see anything). Being a massive Pikmin fan, I’ve been asking myself the same questions everyone else has raised. Will the game build upon Pikmin 3’s gameplay system while juggling new features? Will it be on Wii U? Will the game’s iteration of multiplayer have online? And then there’s the most important question of all…just how adorable will the new types of Pikmin be?! For this article, I’ll be speculating on the likelihood of these factors. (Although that last one would be quite impossible to calculate.)
Personally, I can’t see them not building upon what Pikmin 3 establishes. From a pure gameplay perspective, it’s my belief that Pikmin 3 comes out as the strongest Pikmin title. Whereas the original Pikmin’s time limit may’ve pressured gamers a tad much while Pikmin 2’s freedom provides some easily exploitation, Pikmin 3 offers a superb balance between the two styles. Its flexibility allows players to progress however they wish, be it starting over from a previous day or hoarding enough juice to hold off on actual progression and search for hidden equipment.
So how could such a convenient system be improved upon? Well, as noted in Nintendojo’s own review, Pikmin 3 is still rather easy if you manage your days properly. If the same system is retained, perhaps a focus on improving the difficulty is in order? Maybe provide a limit on how many days you can revisit, or penalize players who didn’t pick up any fruit by using up more than one canister of juice at the end of the day.
Of course, that’s assuming Pikmin 4 will put fruit in the spotlight at all. While the objective of the title remains unknown, I’d love to see the developers mess with the formula by taking a page from a certain Pikmin plot element. Think about this: we’re always told how the nightlife of PNF-404 is swarming with carnivorous beasts (hence why Olimar and the gang have to return to the ship at night), yet we’ve never actually seen this for ourselves! Perhaps Pikmin 4 will finally give us the chance? Maybe only certain ship parts/treasure/fruit/whatever could be found at night, and who knows what unique nocturnal monsters prowl in the night? It’s probably too early for us to figure out how it could be set up, but I imagine it could provide some nice challenge.
Speaking of challenge, I’m sure we’re all certain Mission Mode, or at least some variant of it, will return. Question is, how exactly will it be presented at release? While DLC eventually provided some meaty, compelling content, there’s no denying it was rather barebones upon release. Who knows if that could be chalked up to Nintendo’s early struggles with HD, but I’d rather not see the same pattern happening upon Pikmin 4’s release. Of course, this doesn’t mean I want DLC to build upon Mission Mode, but I’d prefer to have a healthy line-up of missions upon release.
By the way, could we see online multiplayer in the next game? I mean, I loved Bingo Battle, but unfortunately my time with that was quite limited since I didn’t have many local friends in the vicinity. Miyamoto has stated that while the developers wanted to include online play, Wii U’s CPU wasn’t able to handle such a feature for the game. An understandable reason; after all, we’re talking up to 200 characters on-screen. All at once, mind! That he and the team were open to the idea is a good sign, but it doesn’t seem like a current possibility…
…or does it? The big question on everyone’s mind is which system the game is heading for: Wii U, or the upcoming NX? That Miyamoto confirmed the game is “nearly complete” might imply they’ve had ample time for Wii U development, but would releasing it for the console be so wise when NX is potentially around the corner? If that’s the case, it seems like it’d be a waste to release Pikmin 4 on the dying console when it’s never been a huge seller. It’s very possible the game started development on Wii U, but I suspect it’s already shifted gears to Nintendo’s next console. Assuming we’ll see another leap in system power, I’m already salivating at the thought of what Nintendo’s most aesthetically beautiful series could look like in modern HD. Perhaps online multiplayer for Pikmin would finally be reality?
In summary, I believe it’s quite likely that not only Pikmin 4 will build upon where its predecessor left off, but odds are we’ll probably see it on Nintendo’s next console. Any twists and/or expansions on the formula are welcome, but I remain confident the core system will remain just as flexible. Meanwhile, online play and a fleshed-out mission mode may be a tough hurdle to cross, but I believe they’re a necessity in this day and age of gaming. Regardless, whatever direction Miyamoto and company head in for Pikmin 4 will be one I’ll eagerly anticipate. After all, it’s not like we’ll have to wait another nine years, right?