Shigeru Miyamoto reflects on the relatively poorer sales of the Pikmin series, at least compared to other Nintendo properties. Speaking as the latest installment, Pikmin 4, launches on Switch, Miyamoto suggests that previous titles have not sold as well as expected because they are too difficult for Nintendo’s audience.
Miyamoto hypothesizes that much of this difficulty stems from the fact that it’s easy for Pikmin to die, but he defends the decision to include this anyway, saying that the “relationship with mortality” is crucial to Pikmin’s message. He also says that the controls could be too complicated in previous games, something he hoped to address in this long-running sequel.
“There are three games in the series so far, from Pikmin to Pikmin 3,” says Miyamotospeaking before the launch of Pikmin 4 (thanks, VGC). “My personal opinion is always, ‘Why haven’t they exploded more in sales even though they’re so much fun to play? Why do people think they’re so hard?’
“I understand that it’s more difficult for people when death is a factor. But I think the strength of the franchise is its relationship with mortality. If something is irreversible, you have to make a way to prevent undesirable things.”
Despite the constant threat of death hanging over players in Pikmin, Miyamoto cites the controls as one of the biggest issues. “I think Pikmin is difficult for two reasons: the controls and the depth of the game. I spent a long time discussing how we could express these points as ‘interesting’ rather than ‘difficult’.”
In trying to bring new players on board, Miyamoto says he was keen not to alienate those who have already played through all the games.
“The first game provided a deeper challenge, and the second game was broader in terms of content, and we went back to something closer to the first in Pikmin 3,” he explains. “But after thinking about it, I realized we could do both.”
Pikmin 4 director Yuji Kando agrees, saying that the team prioritized making the camera, AI, and controls more accessible to newcomers. Apart from that, he says that devs wanted to keep everything in the spirit of the previous games, adding the best of the three titles that came before it.
Fans will only be playing Pikmin 4 now, so it remains to be seen if Miyamoto, Kando, and the rest of the team have struck a balance here. So far, the reviews have been positive, with the game launching at an 88 on Metacritic. This is just behind the scores for Pikmin and Pikmin 2, but not by much.
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