As announced by Niantic (opens in new tab), the official open testing of the upcoming Pikmin AR game has started in Singapore yesterday. The new mobile game is currently listed as "Pikmin App (Early Access)" on Google Play and is available to those located within the region.
Players have been discouraged from sharing any images or recordings of their gameplay online. However, fans have already shared some of the game's FAQ pages, which contain early gameplay details. From what we can tell at the moment, the game doesn't exactly resemble the interactive experience of Pokémon Go, the last AR mobile hit that emerged from the Nintendo and Niantic collaboration.
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In fact, Pikmin AR is described more as a passive walking experience encouraged by growing Nintendo's beloved Pikmin characters, finding fruit, gathering seedlings and more.
The gist of it is simple: the more you walk, the more "step energy" you gain, which then allows you to grow your own adorable Pikmin from seedlings. You can even name the little guys and feed them nectar to make the top of their heads bloom into cute flowers.
Now, how exactly do you gather that nectar? The answer, once again, is walking. Exploring the surroundings with your Pikmin lets you find certain fruit, which can then be turned into nectar. And once your Pikmin bloom, they start leaving trails of flower petals behind, which later helps more seedlings spout, allowing you to eventually create a whole army of Pikmin.
Your Pikmin can be really useful, too, as you can send them out on expeditions to places where you've walked already to gather more seedlings.
According to Eurogamer (opens in new tab), you can also opt to display your flower trails to others, showing routes that you've walked on for the past five days as well as your avatar and Pikmin.
From what we know already, it looks like we can encounter all seven major species of Pikmin in the game, including the ones that were introduced in Nintendo's latest games: Red, Blue, Yellow, Purple, White, Rock and Winged. And by discovering new areas and certain places, you can also run into a special costumed "Decor" versions of Pikmin.
Although the concept of the upcoming Pikmin game is different from that of Pokémon Go, that doesn't mean that the new AR app won't be just as big of a hit when it launches sometime this year. After all, what will better way to encourage you to get your daily dose of cardio than a bunch of cute Pikmin characters?