Nintendo and Niantic’s Pikmin Bloom is a mix of gardening, scavenging, scrapbooking and Pokmon •

Nintendo and Niantic's Pikmin Bloom is a mix of gardening, scavenging, scrapbooking and Pokmon •

Happy 20th birthday, Pikmin. Two decades after its original launch on GameCube, Nintendo’s beloved garden strategy series has been reimagined by Pokémon Go maker Niantic, in partnership with original creator Shigeru Miyamoto.

The result is Pikmin Bloom, a charming blend of bright strategy, collecting, and exploring your region. As you would expect from Niantic, this is another game that encourages you to get off your couch and wander around the real world, played on your smartphone.

But there are also surprises. There are a lot less Pokémon Go in Pikmin Bloom than you might think, plus a lot of personality from your little Pikmin friends as they rush in groups around your neighborhood, or eagerly run towards you when they whistle for a ride. drop of nectar to sip. The Pikmin act exactly as you remember them – their rowdy little personalities shine through.

The focus is on your step count and a little scrapbooking feature to remind you of your day. It all ends up being a more relaxed experience than other Niantic games – one that can take place in the background as you walk around.

The launch of Pikmin Bloom begins today in Australia and Singapore, before releasing elsewhere in the world “in the next few days,” Niantic said. I’ve had five days of access already and have made it perfectly into my daily walking routine (and around Pokémon Go) – more on all of that below.

Access to this near-final beta also raised questions about user privacy while using the app, which I specifically spoke to Niantic about. Again, answers to all of the following.

First steps

What does Pikmin Bloom like to play? Well, there is a relatively simple game loop to participate in whenever you leave the house.

When you start walking, you can select “Start Flower Planting” to scatter a trail of flower petals behind your Mii avatar as you walk, leaving a path of blooming flowers in your footsteps. Starting this mode is your push for action – and how you’ll want to play whenever you’re outside to maximize your rewards.

Planting flowers speeds up the growth of Pikmin shoots you have incubating, loads nearby flower stalk locations, earns you flower coins (the in-game currency in the app), and generally makes the world a little bit bigger. luminous.

You fill your flower petals by sending your Pikmin on expeditions to collect fruit pieces. Oranges, lemons, limes, etc. can then be made into different types of nectar and given to your Pikmin to grow flower petals of different colors. You can then collect these petals on your Pikmin, up to a certain amount per day.

Expeditions also allow you to collect new Pikmin Sprouts, including different Pikmin colors. These require a certain number of steps to hatch, with a higher number of steps for the shoots that hatch Decor Pikmin, who is wearing cute costumes. These are rare, but seem to relate to the types of places and businesses you might encounter (a Pikmin wearing a chef’s hat from a nearby restaurant, for example).

At the end of your walk, or each time you want to stop planting flowers, you deactivate your flowery route and receive a notification of your number of steps.

Know your business

If you feel like playing without moving, you can always send Pikmin on an expedition to collect new fruits and sprouts in areas you’ve already visited. You can also examine your growing Pikmin horde and see which creatures have improved their friendship with you during your various interactions. A selection of achievement badges also keep track of in-game milestones, including one that serves as a checklist for Decor Pikmin. (Pikmin Bloom sticks to the series’ seven basic races – red, yellow, blue, purple, white, rock, and flying – with costumed versions of each to research.)

At 9 p.m. each day, Pikmin Bloom provides you with a daily summary of your activity through its Lifelog screen, which combines virtual postcards of places your Pikmin may have visited (taken from PokéStop locations) with a photo from your camera roll (if you have granted permission to the app). You also get a quick recap of your gaming achievements, the option to rate your day, and leave a brief description. It’s a cute, almost diary-like experience – inspired, perhaps, by the thoughts of Olimar and co. do at the end of another day on the planet Pikmin.

Pikmin Bloom is more passive than Pokémon Go – which may turn out to be a good thing as the game exists alongside the smashing success of Niantic. Having Pikmin Bloom in the background for the majority of my walks playing Pokémon Go, or just with friends on the weekends, the app was able to track my steps and plant flowers non-stop, with return shipments that were waiting for me every time I returned. .


“[Pikmin Bloom] doesn’t demand your attention at times, but it’s there when you want to give it your attention, ”Niantic founder John Hanke told me in an interview via Zoom this week. “If you want to watch out for something else, maybe you if you walk around with a friend and talk to him, or in a cafe and order a coffee, you can put the game away anytime you want. If you plant flowers, they will keep planting, if you still walk, your steps will always be numbered. If you were playing another Niantic game, you can do so without it competing for your attention. ”

“The style of play and how often someone can play Pikmin Go is quite different from Pokémon Go,” said Madoka Katayama, UX design director at Niantic Tokyo, the studio that worked with Nintendo on the app. . “I think they work pretty well together,” she added, mentioning that at the start of the app’s development other unnamed Nintendo franchises were even prototyped – but they didn’t fit either. to the game loop provided by Pikmin Bloom.

“We have experimented with many other Nintendo IPs, but famous IP addresses don’t always match our goals and the experience we wanted to deliver,” Katayama continued. “In all of the prototypes and demos that we have made, we have seen Pikmin adapt and balance these goals and the vision we had.”

Pikmin and privacy

The idea behind the flower trails that cover a local area is sweet – and it’s both beautiful and really, really interesting to see my pottery around the area over the past five days overlaid on the map in different colors. But I can also see others think twice before starting or stopping their flower planting sessions continually outside their front door, or showing a regular route that is always visited at the same time.

Another option, which you need to enable specifically after you start planting flowers, is that you can share your live Mii location with others. It’s an interesting gameplay choice given that it’s not possible in Pokémon Go. While browsing the game’s forum for beta testers, there are various comments and concerns about how visible you might be while playing. I put some in Niantic – including why the flower trails are public by default.

“We really wanted that collaborative factor where everyone works together to plant flowers across the world, to collaborate to grow these big, beautiful flowers,” Katayama replied. “But we’ve tried to do it in a subtle way – so even if you don’t see the people you can see trails of flowers and things that people have left behind that leave traces and feelings of pretending to others, but not who made them, or any other way to trace them back to the real person.


“The trail – we play with the weight of the visual a lot, so when the trails are created you don’t see the actual trail, you see little patches of flowers that blend in very well with the background so this not so looks like an actual track made by someone, ”Katayama continued.

A Niantic spokesperson clarified this after the call, saying that the game showed other users’ flowers “consolidated into small patches, so you can tell someone was there planting flowers, but not can not see their true trace “. Additionally, there is no way to see the name or details of people planting flowers nearby.

“You can choose to see the flowers only for yourself,” Hanke told me. “I don’t think there is an option to make it visible only to a specific group of friends, but you can choose not to make it visible to anyone else if that’s your preference.” Regarding this, a spokesperson for Niantic said that you can choose to delete the location history for a specific day through Lifelog, or all of the app’s location history at once through its settings.

Pikmin’s death and the future

During our Zoom interview, we briefly touched on Pikmin Bloom’s future and Niantic’s plans to develop the game in the future. The company’s hope is to reach new types of gamers, including those who don’t already play a Niantic game, and there will be a monthly community day to bring players together.

A big part of the main Pikmin series is the combat and risk-reward of putting your Pikmin in danger in order to get treasure. At the moment, there are no enemy species like Bulbs in the game – but Niantic said these could eventually hit the road. What about Pikmin’s deaths, I asked? I didn’t want to kill my Pikmin after spending time finding and feeding them – but without worrying about that happening, the rewards might get too easy …


“That was a big part where we talked with Nintendo about the original IP,” Katayama told me. “Most of the time that’s pretty safe, but there will be some gameplay where some of them [Pikmin] may not return. But this [will be] something that rarely happens – or happens when you’re a little further along in the game. “

So yes, will Pikmin’s death be included in the future of the game? “We don’t use the term death,” Katayama replied with a laugh, “either they are brought back to seedlings or they are reborn. They never actually die, conceptually.”

For now anyway.

After five days, I am level 15 in Pikmin Bloom, I have red, yellow, blue and purple Pikmin and my first Decor creature. There’s still a lot about the game that I feel like I’m working slowly – but I think I have the basics and can recommend trying it out when it launches where you are. 20 years later, I’m thrilled that Pikmin is getting more love – and as Niantic probably hoped, Pikmin Bloom is an intriguing exercise.

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