Monday, December 6th, 2021

First Look: “Pikmin Bloom”, Niantic Walk-Tastic Follow-up to Pokemon GO, Soft Launch Today

Image: Nintendo / Niantic

If playing golf is the best way to ruin a walk, Niantic’s hope is Pikmin BloomThe long-awaited follow-up / sister title of the hugely successful Pokemon GO is to create the exact opposite. “Enliven your daily walk” and turn your daily walk into a fun one full of flowers. It has been rolled out “in the next few days” around the world through staggered launches starting today in Australia and Singapore, and was developed by Niantic’s Tokyo studio in direct collaboration with Nintendo. Design is a lifestyle app rather than a “game”.

Where Pokemon GO is crazy, Pikmin Bloom, according to Niantic CEO John Hanke Fit Rather than competing for attention in your daily life. Grow Pikmin by walking, collecting seeds, picking Pikmin in a culture pedometer backpack, naming it (if needed), and adding it to a small army of hunter-gatherers.

I was invited to a group Zoom meeting with Hanke and Madoka Katayama, UX design leaders at Niantic Tokyo Studio. It outlined the ambitions of this new app and the wide range of viewers they want to attract. “8-80 years old” chestnuts were unfolded when discussing target demographics, but after spending time with the beta app, this is a much broader experience than something like Pokemon GO. That is certain. Pikmin Bloom is a very comfortable walking app that gently promotes the mental and physical benefits of getting off the back and leaving the house without the responsibility of counting steps and catching everything.

Pikmin collects not only seeds, but also fruits on a regular basis as you walk, which turns into nectar. A whistle alerts a small team (in AR mode if necessary), and when nectar is given, the bulbs of the head bloom and are produced. petal. The petals are used to rejuvenate the traces of flowers (in a properly uplifting song) and are left behind wherever you walk, with several advantages. First, the longer you plant the flowers, the greater the seed growth bonus (as a result, the faster the Pikmin seeds grow). Then leave a trail of flowers around the giant plants in your neighborhood, and the game is like a pocket stop, but it also blooms. You can do this yourself (if you are willing to walk in a circle for a while) or join with other bloomers to shed flowers.

Pikmin Bloom is a very comfortable walking app that gently promotes the mental and physical benefits of getting off the back and leaving the house without taking responsibility for catching everything.

Far from the mobile version of Nintendo’s RTS series, the app is full of adorable audio hooks and cute creature moments that first loved Pikmin to GameCube owners in 2001. It’s clearly no coincidence that Pikmin Bloom will soft launch on the 20th, the anniversary of the franchise. In fact, Niantic has been depositing this in the bank for months, and it’s permissible to think that it was waiting for the pandemic to subside in order to launch the walking app at the time the player could. Feel free to walk around. However, although Hanke has been actively developing for a long time, COVID-19 has not delayed its launch and it took some time for this species to sprout.

The team seems to have been experimenting with various Nintendo IPs for a long time to find the best one. I didn’t specify Hanke and Katayama, but I can only imagine that Animal Crossing was another series with a wide enough appeal. However, the most “famous” IPs aren’t always suitable for games that need to interact and intersect the real world, and Pikmin seems to have been a natural selection.

Pikmin Android App
Image: Nintendo / Niantic

When you launch the app, you will be asked to create a Mii avatar from a limited palette. This will be visible if other users select it (similar to Flower Trail, but you can also turn off the open house). The idea behind these visible elements is to convey the “traces and emotions” of other players and foster collaboration in a shared asynchronous world, but if you don’t want to, you don’t even have to.

I played the game in beta, so I didn’t have enough time to explore all aspects. Various elements are gated behind a leveling system that unlocks when you complete a task and record a step. It is said that you can send Pikmin to an expedition to retrieve items, but the general flow of growth-based gameplay is familiar to anyone who hatches eggs in Pokemon GO. However, pulling Pikmin out of a backpack-like pot is endless. It’s more satisfying than hitting an egg.

The familiar way of draining the battery while on the go is probably less welcome, but the mileage (and battery) is different. When you link your game to the Health app and Pedometer app on your smartphone, the steps you take while the app is closed are also counted in total.Unfortunately, the game is very tied to you StepThis means that wheelchair users must rely on shaking their mobile devices to grow these seeds.

This diary-style lifelog element transforms the experience into something like a cross between the game and the “memories” slideshow of the photo app.

Lifelog is another aspect that distinguishes Bloom from GO. This is a daily summary of moods and memories captured via photos taken from the camera roll, as well as the steps taken (access must be granted). This diary-style element transforms the experience into something like a cross in a “memories” slideshow of games and photo apps. There is also a mention of a special costume for your Pikmin, which we haven’t seen in-game yet. In fact, at the edge of this app is Miitomo’s mildest scent. Perhaps it’s a Mii avatar, but the lifelog and postcard mechanics (where Pikmin gets the postcards from where they visited) are small, but the developers have very different ambitions for this game. It is an important indicator.

In fact, as Katayama pointed out, Pikmin Bloom isn’t really as similar to Pokemon GO as you might think first. Monthly Community Day is planned, but if the game shares anything other than the underlying technology and map data, it’s a sense of exploration and collaboration with strangers. However, the only layer of competition here is the bragging right to your level, the unlocked medals, or the flower trails you left around the place.

The notorious weakness of Pokemon GO’s design is that it relies on a bustling urban environment for best performance. Niantic seeks to address this issue by making “conscious decisions” to make the game more accessible to remote players. Monetization seems to be very consistent with Pokémon GO’s Pokécoin approach. Purchasing the optional Doohicky speeds up seed growth, but includes additional petals, nectar, and one-time seed slots.

It is said that in the future there is a possibility that Bourbove will be incorporated and even lose the beloved Pikmin.

It is said that in the future Bourbove could be incorporated and even lost his beloved Pikmin, but the director is having a hard time saying they “will not die”. She also mentions the potential for a brand new Pikmin that has never been seen before, making her debut in the game. But for now, it’s about spreading flowers and building a small army of botanical companions.

Either one is fine. Our time in the game so far has been a lot of fun as a little accompaniment while we wander around the city. We don’t expect a corps of Pikmin fans to gather and plant flowers, much like Pokemon GOer fights in raids and catches rare Pokemon, but Pikmin Bloom is overwhelmingly comfortable around a daily walk. is.

That word is again: fun.. It sounds like a hint, but it’s pretty rare for such an ambitious release to be so bold and deliberate that it’s around the player. We’re used to games (at least the most famous ones), taking over life, nourishing unhealthy impulses, and revitalizing through addictive mechanics that turn “one more time” into “17 times.” Many of these experiences have inherent anxiety and small panics that miss or fail opportunities. My God, what if I don’t catch everything? !!

Pikmin Bloom is absolutely the opposite. Apparently you’re just happy to be there when you need to be a little distracted by some company or a gray day while you’re doing errands. With its laid-back, low-maintenance capacity, the app makes a good first impression and welcomes the fresh floral scented air to enjoy on a lively autumn walk, especially after spending most of last year. It feels like a breath. It’s still unclear if its broad appeal will lead to something like the financial success of a stable companion, but there is no doubt that we will go for a walk in the coming weeks or months.

Of course, suppose our battery lasts a long time.