Nintendo Teams Up With Niantic on New Pikmin AR Mobile Game

Nintendo and Niantic are working on a Pikmin AR game that will be released later in 2021.

Nintendo Teams Up With Niantic on New Pikmin AR Mobile Game

Pikmin Are Coming to the Real World Late 2021

In 2016, the Augmented Reality (AR) game Pokémon GO became a breakout success for makers Nintendo and Niantic. The free-to-play game inserted colorful cartoon creatures into the real world, as seen through players’ smartphone cameras. It sparked discussion worldwide and was downloaded more than 500 million times in its first year.

Although Pokémon GO had its share of technical issues and controversies, the game has remained popular and is still a success five years later. Both partners have made additional ventures into Augmented Reality games, such as Nintendo’s 2020  Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit and Niantic’s 2019 Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

However, none yet have matched the success of Pokémon GO . By collaborating again, Nintendo and Niantic hope to strike gold again with the 2021 release of a joint Pikmin-themed AR mobile game.

What’s a Pikmin, and What Do You Do With One?

The original Pikmin game was released in 2001, developed by Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Nintendo’s signature character Mario. The eponymous Pikmin are colorful, cartoonish plant-like creatures. Like Pokémon, Pikmin can be tamed and controlled by the player.

The player uses Pikmin to destroy obstacles and defeat various hostile animals. Pikmin types are color-coded, with each color having different special abilities. The player can use food and items found in the world to advance the Pikmin and grow new ones. Subsequent Pikmin games kept the essentials in place while adding new varieties of Pikmin and improving the features of the old ones. The gameplay proved increasingly refined with each release.

Pikmin 3 | Credit: Nintendo

The new Pikmin game will use an Augmented Reality approach to fill the players’s world with adorable Pikmin secretly living in ordinary places. The app will make the player’s phone into a portal to this magical world. An ordinary walk can become an adventure with new discoveries around every corner.

Few details have been officially released yet. The exact title and release date are unknown. However, it is expected to be available for the Nintendo Switch, and likely as a mobile app as well.

Miyamoto has said that the new Pikmin game will take a new approach that will distinguish it from Pokémon GO and other existing games. Its goal is to “make walking fun” and to “become a partner in your life.”

Pokémon GO | Credit: Nintendo

Other Nintendo AR games have also attempted to combine the joy of video gaming with the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. Pokémon Smile enhances the experience of brushing your teeth, and Pokémon Sleep, to be released in the near future, should promote healthy sleep patterns. Pikmin seems likely to be designed to encourage its players to get a bit of fresh air and exercise with an enjoyable interactive experience.

What Do We Have to Look Forward to?

With Nintendo and Niantic teaming up again, and with Shigeru Miyamoto seemingly so excited about it, it seems likely that something new and original is in the works. The developers haven’t been resting on their laurels since the release of Pokémon GO, and they’re certain to have learned from the rocky release that preceded that game’s immense success.

Based on what we know now, it does seem likely that the new mobile AR Pikmin game will resemble Pokémon GO in some ways, but the developers seem confident that it will provide a refreshingly new experience. Look for its release some time in 2021.

What features would you like to see in Nintendo and Niantic's new mobile AR Pikmin game?