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Nintendo’s Ask the Developer series of articles is back! Just in time for the release of Pikmin 4 later this week, a roundtable of important people behind the plucky plants has come together to discuss the origins of the series and more. Be sure to check out Ask the Developer Vol. 10 in full, but we’ll cover the biggest tidbits here!

First up, the origins of Pikmin. It turns out the ideas were formulating as far back as the transition from the Super Nintendo to Nintendo 64, with directors Shigefumi Hino and Masamichi Abe wanting to “display a large number of characters on screen”. At this stage, the series was more of an action game with players changing the AI chips in various creatures’ heads to influence how they acted. The gender and personality of these creatures was identifiable at a distance by what was on their head, as illustrated below.

This initial design was soon changed with Junji Morii designing new creatures with the goal of appealing to high school girls. Thus, Pikmin were born. It’s also noted that Morii liked the works of Tim Burton and many of his early sketches could be seen as eerie and emotional.

Later in the interview we also learn that while the game was being developed for the Nintendo 64 it would have utilised “billboard” flat character sprites for the many creatures on screen – with the transition to the GameCube the developers could use 3D models instead. Intriguingly, programmer Yuji Kando notes that the development team didn’t know about the Super Mario 128 tech demo so weren’t influenced by it in terms of planning.

There is plenty more to be gleamed from the interview so it’s well worth checking out. A second part will be released tomorrow, too!

Pikmin 4, meanwhile, will launch later this week on July 21st.

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Written by Tom Brown

Whether it’s an exciting new entry in a series long established or a weird experiment meant only for the dedicated, Tom is eager to report on it. Rest assured, if Nintendo ever announces Elite Beat Agents 2, he’ll be there.