Nintendo kicked off its E3 2012 Press Conference with a game fans have been waiting years to play: Pikmin 3. It’s arguably the most graphically impressive title revealed for Wii U so far (as seen in the Pikmin 3 announcement trailer), and packs a number of improvements over its predecessors, including new types of Pikmin — like Rock Pikmin and flying Pink Pikmin.

Unfortunately, one seemingly obvious feature will not make the cut. Pikmin 3 doesn’t feature any kind of online multiplayer component. Instead, Nintendo hopes players will be content with local co-op play.

Nintendo has a lot to prove with Wii U, and one area where the company has clearly fallen behind competitors Microsoft and Sony is online play. At the beginning of the year, Satoru Iwata announced the Nintendo Network, an online service set to rival both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. So why won’t Pikmin 3 — one of the Wii U’s flagship games — support online multiplayer over Nintendo’s new network? According to Pikmin creator Shigeru Miyamoto, speaking to IGN, providing online play for the game would be “very difficult.”

“You have to be very careful that you don’t drop frames as you’re trying to sync up with other players over what could be a very great physical distance, over the internet. But in the situation of Pikmin, for example, since you would have lots of individual, small creatures, the Pikmin, whose every movement and location is going to be really important in the game, it would be very difficult to sync up over an internet connection.”

“So I think what we’ve decided to do is focus on the single-player and local multiplayer aspects, which are really fun. But unfortunately, no online multiplayer for Pikmin 3. But the co-op local multiplayer is really fun.”

Personally, I don’t doubt that co-op multiplayer in Pikmin 3 will be “really fun” — it was a lot of fun in 2004’s Pikmin 2, which has just been reissued in a new Wii edition. But online multiplayer is hardly a cutting-edge feature, and Nintendo’s apparent inability to make Pikmin 3 play properly online is not encouraging — for either the Nintendo Network or the Wii U.

The disappointment is all the greater because Pikmin 3 appears to be such a good fit for online multiplayer. Marshaling an army of Pikmin against another player’s army seems like such an obvious — and obviously fun — extension of the game’s mechanics that its exclusion is almost baffling. The hope, of course, is that Pikmin 3 proves to be the exception, and not the rule. If, as Reggie Fils-Aime stated during E3, the Wii U really is for the “hardest of the hardcore,” then future first-party Wii U games need to appropriately support online multiplayer. Anything less simply won’t be enough.

Ranters, what do you think about the lack of online multiplayer in Pikmin 3? Do you take Miyamoto at his word, or is this just another example of Nintendo being well behind the established curve?

Pikmin 3 is set to release during the Wii U’s launch window.

Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.

Source: IGN