The March 18th release of LEGO City: Undercover is set to break a calamitously long, dry spell that has plagued Wii U since the dawn of the new year. The very next day, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Need for Speed Most Wanted join the system’s lineup – welcome additions, to be sure, but also ports of games that have been available on other platforms for quite some time. Nearly five months in the case of Need for Speed, closer to three years for Monster Hunter.

March 31st marks the end of both Nintendo’s fiscal year and Wii U’s generously proportioned launch window. As all too many Wii U owners must be aware, there have been casualties. Rayman Legends is the most notorious case; originally slated for release in February, the game has been postponed to September. Delays have also been visited upon one-time launch window titles The Wonderful 101, Game & Wario and Wii Fit U. Still, for fans of Nintendo’s first-party games, one project’s absence is more keenly felt than the others: Pikmin 3.

The first game revealed at Nintendo’s E3 2012 press event, and one of Game Rant’s 15 most anticipated games of 2013, Pikmin 3 was once promised for the system’s launch window, then moved to Spring before being rescheduled once again, this time to the second quarter of 2013. That is a substantial number of delays for a game that doesn’t even include online multiplayer.

Nevertheless, Pikmin creator Shigeru Miyamoto still wishes the game could have been completed closer to the Wii U’s launch. Speaking with Time, Miymoto discusses Pikmin 3’s development.

“From my perspective, I think ideally it would have been nice if we’d been able to release Pikmin 3 closer to launch, but the Wii U – though it shares the Wii name – is obviously a brand new system, with new chips and graphical capabilities. It can do a lot more, and in the process of developing a lot of the features and functionality, the resources required to best utilize those features drew on some of the same resources that might have been spent developing games, thus we weren’t able to bring quite as robust a lineup initially.”

“At the same time, we still have new things to learn about how to leverage the features and functionalities of Wii U in ways that create fun and interesting new ways to play, including new gameplay systems. As we become even more familiar with the hardware, we’ll be able to do more from a software standpoint. That’s an area we’re currently devoting resources to.”

Pikmin Cartoons

Miyamoto’s reference to “new gameplay systems” suggests that Pikmin 3, even now, may be some distance from completion. Whether or not the game will make its current Q2 release date remains to be seen, but whenever it does arrive, Pikmin 3 is going to be accompanied by a series of Nintendo-produced animated shorts overseen by Miyamoto himself. In an interview with Polygon, Miyamoto detailed the Pikmin cartoons, which are destined for Nintendo’s 3DS.

“I didn’t want to license our characters out to someone else to create films. Instead, since I used to draw four-panel comics when I was younger, I thought it would be fun to bring a four-panel comic approach to creating video content, so we started work on these Pikmin videos.”

“They’ll be released sometime before the release of Pikmin 3. Possibly as a Nintendo video. If they’re popular we could consider selling them.”

Miyamoto goes on to describe one of the videos.

“When Olimar first discovered the Pikmin he named them based on the PikPik brand carrots in his home world, so he clearly loves carrots. I thought it would be fun to have a scenario where it seems like he is going to eat the Pikmin. So it’s kind of dark, but he doesn’t eat them.”

Nintendo has no shortage of  recognizable characters, and should the Pikmin shorts prove to be a hit, it isn’t difficult to imagine the company producing a range of animated offerings. Which character(s) would you like to see Nintendo focus on next? Are you looking forward to the Pikmin shorts, or would you rather that Nintendo simply focus on finishing the game? Leave you thoughts in the comments below.

Pikmin 3 releases during the second quarter of 2013 on Wii U.

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Source: Time, Polygon