A sad day indeed for Pikmin fans. It appears Captain Olimar, hero of Pikmin 1 and 2, has been forced into retirement. In Pikmin 3 he will be replaced by three new protagonists. Introducing Alph, Brittany, and Captain Charlie (ABC?) who are on a mission to save Planet Koppai and fortunately crash land on a planet populated by Pikmin. As such, it also a glorious day for Pikmin fans, as we now have three exciting new characters to get to know. That said, we salute you for your service, Olimar. Godspeed.
Our three new protagonists will make the most of their unfortunate crash landing by recruiting Pikmin to help them gather fruit. Yes, fruit. They then return this fruit to their spacecraft where the seeds are removed and the fruit itself turned into juice. The juice is used as a food resource to further exploration of the planet, while the seeds are sent home.
I'm unclear on this last point, but it seems like if you run out of juice, you can't continue to explore. However, Iwata makes clear there is no limitation on the number of days you can take to complete exploration of the world -- you can even jump between the days you've used to explore. The challenge will be in how efficient you are at exploring the full world. Perhaps running out of juice simply ends the day?
Also shown was how GamePad functionality will be used in the game, as well as other controller functionality. The GamePad will provide a mini-map which can be used to creat an almost top-down strategy experience. Exploring uncovers areas of the map which will remain uncovered for the duration of the game. Also, the Pro Controller will work or with Wii Motion Plus + Nunchuck. Of course, the game is also entirely playable off-screen on just the GamePad screen.
Pikmin 3 will be launching on August 4 exclusively for the Wii U. While today's updates focused on the Story mode, Nintendo President Iwata said to look forward to more information on Challenge mode and the game's various multiplayer modes soon. Multiplayer! Stay away from my fruit, you savages.
I'm looking for standalone footage of the Pikin 3 gameplay, but for now hopefully these screenshots work.