After Nintendo's official debut of PIkmin 3 at its E3 2012 press conference, we took some time at their booth to make sure it wasn't just a figment of our imagination.
The core ideals of Pikmin remain 100% unchanged in this latest installment. It's still about controlling a crowd of tiny, colorful, ant-looking creatures, commanding them to battle larger beings and break down walls in a variety of garden environments.
The basic control scheme uses the Wii MotionPlus controller and the nunchuk, guiding pikmin with your cursor or throwing them into enemies and obstacles with the A button. The Wii U's GamePad acts as a minimap, showing you where you haven't explored yet and when your pikmin army is being attacked by a nasty waterbug. You can also pick up the GamePad and use its built-in pointer to direct, though the MotionPlus controller felt far easier to get a handle on.
A new challenge mode is on display which gives players a set amount of time to explore a small map, collecting fruit scattered about. Larger fruit, like apples and watermelons, are worth more points but they also take longer to deliver back to the Captain's ship. Again, pretty standard for a pikmin game. There was a new element, though, which allowed pikmin to pick up and build a bridge, giving you a shortcut back to your ship.
There was also a playable boss fight, which had my pikmin army battling what appeared to be a giant, armored caterpillar. Hundreds of times larger than a single pikmin, there's no way to take the caterpillar down with standard fighters. Instead you have to use the newly-introduced Rock Pikmin, which can shatter the creature's shell. Once broken, you can use your standard, red pikmin to munch away at the unprotected innards.
The Pikmin 3 trailer shown during the press conference hinted at the new ability to control multiple captains at once, though that segment wasn't playable. So far Pikmin 3 looks like a pretty expected sequel entry which will be enjoyed by fans but probably won't convert anyone anytime soon. Here's hoping there are more Wii U-specific features still on-hand to reveal.