Pokemon Go has been doing well enough for Nintendo and Niantic over the past five years, so it makes sense that the companies would be teaming up for another project. But I am a little surprised to see it’s Pikmin.
The game in question will use the studio’s tried-and-true AR “seeing video game characters in the real world” shtick that made Pokemon Go so popular. But there’s not much else in the official announcement that explains what players will be doing with the titular Pikmin. Whatever the case, the game’s goal will be to “encourage walking and make the activity more enjoyable.” So it sounds like it’s leaning into Pokemon Go’s strengths, but I hope it’s more than just a reskin of the same activities the studio has been putting players through since 2016.
“As we continue to expand our games portfolio, it was a natural next step to team up with Nintendo,” said Niantic CEO John Hanke in the announcement. “We’re looking forward to shaping the future of AR together, bringing Nintendo’s beloved game characters to life for mobile game players around the world.”
“Niantic’s AR technology has made it possible for us to experience the world as if Pikmin are secretly living all around us”, said Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto in the statement. “Based on the theme of making walking fun, our mission is to provide people a new experience that’s different from traditional games. We hope that the Pikmin and this app will become a partner in your life.”
The Pikmin AR game will launch on mobile devices later in 2021, and will be the first game developed by Niantic’s Tokyo Studio, which was founded back in 2018.
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What makes the Pikmin game a little surprising to me is that the franchise is hardly Nintendo’s biggest hotness these days. The games are successful, but Nintendo’s hardly been doubling down on the franchise. Pikmin 3 was recently ported to Switch, but before that the last game in the series was the 3DS spin-off Hey Pikmin in 2017. Maybe this can be a gateway game to build up some buzz for a potential Pikmin 4?