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Pikmin 2

Platform(s): GameCube, Wii
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: Aug. 30, 2004 (US), Oct. 8, 2004 (EU)

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GameCube Review - 'Pikmin 2'

by The Cookie Snatcher on Sept. 22, 2004 @ 12:55 a.m. PDT

Get ready for the return of some of Nintendo's best-loved characters as Pikmin 2 has been added to the Wii's New Play Control family, in which classic games are reinvented to take advantage of Wii's unique motion sensing capabilities and new widescreen experience.

Buy 'PIKMIN 2': GameCube

The original Pikmin debuted alongside the GameCube during its 2001 launch and was lauded for its charm and originality. Pikmin 2 follows up on that success with another unique and palatable strategy adventure lifted straight out of Shigeru Miyamoto’s own backyard. While the first Pikmin was a great game and an impressive franchise first effort, it did come under fire for its disappointing overall length and lack of additional modes. Pikmin 2 addresses these issues with a substantially longer single-player mode, the addition of multiple multi-player friendly modes, as well as plenty of refinements and improvements to nearly every other facet of the title.

Space-faring Captain Olimar returns and again takes center stage in the sequel but this time around he will be joined by Louie who will assist Olimar as they attempt to salvage ‘artifacts’ from different pikmin-populated planets. These artifacts, which take the form of everything from bottle caps to official Nintendo memorabilia, can be exchanged for pokos (Olimar’s home planet’s form of currency) that will go towards his employer’s 10,000 pokos debt that accrued during Olimar’s initial crash landing a few years ago.

The “Pikmin” in the game’s title refers to an indigenous life-form inhabiting various planets. They are a sort of sentient flora that Olimar befriended and is able to utilize in large groups to accomplish a variety of goals. Each type of Pikmin is a different color and represents unique properties. Returning pikmin include the blue pikmin, who can move around in water; red pikmin are resistant to fire; and the yellow pikmin are immune to the shocking effects of electricity. Newly introduced in this sequel are the white and purple pikmin. White pikmin have resistance to poison as they are themselves poisonous and will release their toxins into any enemy who eats them. The purple pikmin are bigger and more rotund than the other pikmin giving them a 10-fold increase in strength thus allowing them to easily carry heavy objects and artifacts back to the ship. The goal is to use these multi-colored pikmin to overcome enemy threat by overwhelming them with legions of the little scavengers, using the correct colors of pikmin to surmount various environmental hazards, and command them to carry back items to the ship.

Exploration plays a large part in Pikmin 2 as you’ll often need to scout ahead with Louie or Olimar for potential threats and to basically just get the lay of the land. Unlike the first game you are no longer limited to 30 in-game days worth of play but time is still a concern since you are only able to traverse a planet during the daytime. An on-screen meter is a constant reminder of this daily time restriction and once night falls you’ll lose any pikmin who are not actively in your group.

The inclusion of Louie as a second playable character essentially allows the player to efficiently multitask in Pikmin 2. Most of the time Olimar and Louie will trek together along with their entourage of pikmin, but they can also split up and accomplish goals simultaneously in different areas of a level (which are quite large this time around). To further streamline the process of progressing you now have the ability to cycle through different colored pikmin with the d-pad before launching them into the air to ward off enemies or reach otherwise inaccessible areas.

Another new addition is the underground caves that can be found in the game’s levels. You are able to enter these caves with up to 100 pikmin in tow. Each cave is a multi-tiered dungeon-like course with different environmental and elemental threats, so choosing the right cast of pikmin to accompany you is key. The game does make an effort to offset lack-of-planning however, by including large flora that will change the color of pikmin for you. Oftentimes large enemy bosses will await you in the underground caves, but with these dangers come rewards in the form of additional pokos-producing artifacts.

By extracting the essence of certain berries found during the game your ship will be able to produce two different potions. The spicy potion will boost your currently-controlled pikmin’s speed and attacking power for a short time. The bitter potion turns nearby baddies into stone for a brief time. Your ship can also convert certain items you find to create upgrades for both the ship and Olimar’s and Louie’s space suits, though these enhancements are generally useful only for specific circumstances.

Aside from the longer, and generally better, single-player mode (compared to the original) Pikmin 2 also introduces a two-player battle mode that is played via split-screen. The goal in battle mode is to collect four marbles on a specific map before your opponent, the first to collect them all wins. To make things interesting, you are able to steal marbles from the other player and vice versa, as well as pit your bloodthirsty pikmin horde against that of your opponent’s. There is also a challenge mode that can be played with either one or two players and features 30 different maps that must be completed each within a set time.

Visually, Pikmin 2 is quite stunning. From a technical perspective Pikmin 2 shines with incredibly detailed nature-themed environments and polished, smoothly animated character models for Olimar, Louie, the pikmin, and the eccentric cast of baddies. Artistically, Pikmin 2 makes great strides with rich photorealistic scenery starkly contrasting the meticulous, inspired character and object designs that are so original they only could have come from Nintendo. The sound presentation is also excellent and features a wealth of differently themed orchestrations ranging from upbeat, catchy ditties to more subdued ambient music. The sound effects have improved drastically from the original, particularly in terms of the cute little grunts and outbursts that can constantly be heard from your group of pikmin as they struggle to carry heavy objects or yelp in agony as they run around aimlessly on fire.

Overall, Pikmin 2 is a wholly enjoyable follow-up to the original and manages to keep things fun for a long, long time with its lengthier single-player adventure, host of streamlined gameplay additions, and extensive multi-player modes. If you’re looking for a hugely entertaining, creative, and inspired strategy experience with tons of charm look no further than Pikmin 2.

 

Score: 9.1/10


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