Pikmin Staff Discuss Early Names, Initially Developing for Nintendo 64 & Inspirations, Including Tim Burton

Nintendo recently released a lengthy interview with the following staff members to discuss the upcoming Pikmin 4 and the series’ history:

  • Shigeru Miyamoto
  • Shigefumi Hino
  • Masamichi Abe
  • Yuji Kando
  • Junji Morii

Several topics are highlighted, such as the efforts of when Pikmin was first conceptualized for the Nintendo 64. Interestingly, the early designs were inspired by Tim Burton since Morii wanted to contrast the vibrant worlds of Mario and Zelda. A “somber, mature, and mysterious world” was the aim.

Further inspiration included the cutout animation film Fantastic Planet from 1973 and the book The Selfish Gene written by Richard Dawkins. Miyamoto then elaborated with the following:

“We watched all kinds of films for inspiration, like indie films from Europe or artistic films you wouldn’t find in regular video stores. It was an interesting time with lots of experimental footage coming out with innovative modes of expression, like ones that deliberately layered the same images repeatedly.”

Kando stated the following regarding development for the game on Nintendo 64:

“Speaking of on-screen expression, when we were first developing the game for Nintendo 64, we expressed the idea of many characters being there by combining flat boards called billboards to create characters, thereby lightening the processing workload. When the platform changed to Nintendo GameCube we were finally able to express each individual character as a 3D model.”

One last element of note is how Pikmin was not the initial name for the project. The following exchange sheds more light on this evolved facet:

Abe: During development, we were using the word “ippiki” to count these characters. (In Japanese, “ippiki” means “one small animal.”) Colin-san (Nintendo Programmer), who was working with us on the program, heard us counting these creatures and mistakenly thought that we were calling them “Piki.” (Laughs)

Interviewer: I see, so he thought the counter “piki” was their name. (Laughs) In some places, I see that it’s written “Picky.”

Abe: That’s right. “Piki” evolved to “Picky,” and when deciding its official name, we settled on “Pikmin.” We thought it sounded a bit like “pick me.”

Miyamoto: It kind of sounded like “vitamin” too, so we thought it was good. (Laughs)

You can view some of the provided concept art for early Pikmin below:

For more insight, check out the full interview’s first part via Nintendo’s official website. The second part of the interview will be shared tomorrow, July 19.

Pikmin is a strategy game involving the titular characters and a space-faring captain attempting to survive on a hostile yet strangely familiar planet. The games have featured a full-day cycle that acts as a time limit before the player must set off from the planet to stay safe from the dangerous fauna.

In Pikmin 4, you customize your explorer and lead the charge daily to find your crew and fix the Rescue Corps ship, the S.S. Shepherd. Lead your squad through vast explorable areas to find treasures, discover new paths, and battle enemies of all sizes.

You can also direct the Pikmin to collect and carry helpful resources for your mission. Furthermore, you can also get help from a second player in the Story mode. Using an on-screen pointer, your co-op buddy can throw pebbles at enemies to stun them and unleash valuable items in your inventory.

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.