ARWHO? What the developer of Hey! Pikmin means for the game


A new Pikmin game is in development for Nintendo 3DS. What’s interesting to note however, is that the newest entry in the series, entitled Hey! Pikmin, will be the first in the series not developed internally by Nintendo. The newest entry in the Pikmin series will be developed by Japanese studio “Arzest” It’s already fairly clear that this title is quite a bit different than it’s predecessors, likely largely due to it’s release platform, the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.

Knowing now that this title won’t be developed internally at Nintendo, some questions may have been raised. Who is this Arzest? What’s their history like? And how will their handling of the game affect the overall quality of Hey! Pikmin? That’s our goal today, in another fascinating tale of Nintendo games, not made by Nintendo.

To begin, “Arzest” seems like a bit of an odd name, does it not? What could it mean? In this case, it’s best to get the answer from the horse’s mouth! On their website, they describe their name as such, “‘ARZEST’ is derived from the combination of ‘Art’ and ‘Zest’. It is a word we created using what we feel is important to us.” Art seems like a pretty standard choice, but why zest? Google defines zest as “Great enthusiasm and energy.” While this probably wouldn’t be one’s first word to describe such a feeling, it fits nicely enough to art to create a safe sounding corporation’s name.


The Arzest Company Logo

Arzest was founded in June of 2010 by Yoji Ishii, Naoto Oshima and Yutaka Sugano. Both starting their careers at Sega working on title like NiGHTS into Dreams and Panzer Dragoon Saga, Ishii, Oshima and Sugano would go on to open the doors at Artoon in August of 1999. Amongst a slew of other moderately successful titles, Artoon would begin their relationship with Nintendo in developing Yoshi’s Universal Gravitation (known as Yoshi Topsy-Turvy in the US), which released in 2004.

After Universal Gravitation received a mediocre reception and moderate fiscal success, Artoon was tasked with developing Yoshi’s Island DS, which was released initially in November of 2006 for the Nintendo DS. With a more positive reception than its motion based predecessor, Yoshi’s Island DS was likely a positive point in the relationship between Nintendo and Artoon.

Artoon would continue to develop software for several different platforms until 2010 when its parent company, AQ interactive filed for bankruptcy.


Artoon, a precursor in many ways to Arzest

Upon the death of Artoon, Ishii, Oshima and Sugano would go on to found the similarly named Arzest. Likely due to the positive relationship between Nintendo and Arzest’s predecessor, Artoon, Nintendo would quickly collaborate with Arzest to create a slew of titles. Arzest’s first work with Nintendo would be on Wii Play: Motion, wherein they developed the mini-games titled “Spooky Search,” “Jump Park” and “Cone Zone.”

After work on some smaller projects, Arzest would be tasked with developing their first fully released retail game, the newest entry in the Yoshi series, aptly titled Yoshi’s New Island. With the positive reception to Yoshi’s Island DS, this seemed like a natural fit. Unfortunately, wasn’t received quite as well as it’s DS predecessor, and performed marginally worse as well. While reviews for Yoshi’s Island DS were average or positive, reviews for Yoshi’s New Island were average or negative. Additionally, Yoshi’s Island DS sold close to 85% of it’s original Japanese shipment in its first week, whereas Yoshi’s New Island only sold around 55% of its original Japanese shipment.


Yoshi’s Island DS and Yoshi’s Island, similar games, similar developers

So how does this affect Hey! Pikmin? Well, we can draw a few key conclusions from the recent history of Arzest, and it’s roots at the now defunct Artoon.

At Artoon, the development teams behind Yoshi’s Universal Gravitation likely learned from their experiences and were able to deliver a better product with Yoshi’s Island DS. However, while it’s natural to assume that the experience on Yoshi’s Island DS would lead to a near-perfect title in Yoshi’s New Island, it’s clear this is not the case.

The faults of Yoshi’s New Island are likely due to the fact that New Island was the first full game that Arzest had developed as a company. Between now and then, Arzest has worked on a few more smaller projects, and one more fully released game, in the form of the 3DS port of Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, which received mediocre reviews.

So what happens now then? What may be the fate of Hey! Pikmin? While I’d like to be the one to tell you that it’ll be an excellent title, it just doesn’t seem likely at this point. The first reason for this is due to initial responses. Initial impressions are mixed to bad from both sources that are generally light or harsh on Nintendo. A lighter impression from Nintendo Life is “cautiously optimistic,” whereas a more harsh thought comes from Eurogamer, noting that the game is “not much to get excited about.”


What does fate hold for Arzest’s newest title, Hey! Pikmin?

Additionally, it just doesn’t seem like Arzest has found their footing yet. More often than not, it takes a studio a few tries before they really get off their feet and create something amazing. With only two full releases for the 3DS under their belt, and with both receiving mixed/mediocre reviews, it just doesn’t seem like Hey! Pikmin is going to be a must-buy. At best, it will likely be something to hold Pikmin fans over until a new full game is released, and at worst, it’ll be a prime example of a misused Nintendo property.

Regardless of quality however, it’s important to note that Hey! Pikmin will likely not be any sort of large financial disaster. It’s being developed at a relatively small scale, under a series that has the trust of its fans, on a platform with a large user base. Sure, it’s near the end of the 3DS life, but Hey! Pikmin won’t need to sell a gazillion copies to make up for its expenses. Even if the game is an overall net loss, it’ll just be a learning experience for all involved.