Can Pikmin 4 break the curse?
Nintendo has a wealth of franchises under their belt, and they’re all multi-million sellers. That said, for every major mover like Mario Kart, there’s smaller successes as well. That’s where you’ll find the Pikmin franchise, but Nintendo is hoping to change that with the latest installment.
In a developer roundtable for Pikmin 4, Shigeru Miyamoto opened up about the sales of the Pikmin franchise in general. While Pikmin games have moved millions over the years, they’re not exactly lighting the charts ablaze. This is something that’s bugged Miyamoto ever since the series first released, and he thinks it has something to do with the perceived difficulty of the franchise.
In his comments, Miyamoto talks about how difficulty is core to the Pikmin experience, and moving too far away from the challenges players face would result in something that didn’t feel like Pikmin. It’s all about finding the right balance for players and the franchise together, and it seems like Pikmin 4 may have found that sweet spot.
You can see Miyamoto’s full comments on Pikmin sales and the importance of difficulty below.
There have been three games in the series until now, from Pikmin to Pikmin 3, and personally I’ve always wondered, “Why haven’t they exploded more in sales even though they’re so much fun to play? Why do people think they’re so difficult?”
I get that people find it more difficult when death is a factor. But I think the franchise’s strength lies in its relationship with mortality. If something is irreversible, you need to figure out a way to prevent undesired things from happening. To try to prevent Pikmin from dying, you need to practice “Dandori.” To me, that’s what makes this game unique. I think people find Pikmin difficult for two reasons: the controls and the depth of gameplay. I spent a long time mulling over how we could convey these points as “interesting” rather than “difficult.”
We were talking about how we want as many people as possible to play Pikmin 4, but if it’s not Pikmin-like enough, we won’t meet the expectations of those who’ve enjoyed the series until now. The first game provided a deeper challenge, while the second game was broader in terms of content, and we went back to something closer to the first one in Pikmin 3. But after thinking about it, I realized that we could do both. We could retain the depth of gameplay that makes Pikmin so interesting, while providing the functional support to address the challenges around controls.