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• Pikmin 2

developed & published by Nintendo/2004.08.30
1-2 Players/(27 blocks)1 GD-Rom/Nintendo Gamecube

PIKMIN2-headersm

Pikmin 2 plants the seeds for a new game in Shigeru Miyamoto’s original real-time strategy series.  Growing out of the design of the first game, Pikmin 2 now features 2 new types of Pikmin, expanded Pikmin abilities, 2 playable characters, a new 2-player competitive mode, the addition of underground caves, and no 30 day time-limit.  In addition, though this feature has no gameplay function, they’ve added the Piklopedia; a veritable encyclopedia of all the different treasures and alien species Olimar has encountered during his expedition (along with clever, sometimes hilarious observations by the crew).

PIKMIN2-002Hocotate Freight is going BANKRUPT!

In the first game, there were a total of 30 ship parts that needed to be collected in order to repair Olimar’s spaceship, the Dolphin.  Now Olimar has returned home, only to discover that Hocotate Freight (the company he works for) has gone bankrupt after the inexperienced pilot Louie’s shipment of PikPik brand carrots was eaten by a gigantic Space Bunny (of course, Louie’s insatiable love of PikPik carrots had absolutely nothing to do with the disappearance).  The Dolphin gets repossessed, and Olimar and Louie return to the planet to collect treasure to pay off Hocotate Freight’s debt.  In all, there are now more than 200 new items to be found and collected, although only 100 or so are needed to pay off the debt.

Game play

Game play has been sufficiently expanded upon.  The original Pikmin trio return, although this time the Yellow Pikmin have lost their ability to use bomb-rocks, and instead they are now insusceptible to electricity.  In addition, you will encounter large flowers in underground areas that can transform regular Pikmin into two new types: Purple or White Pikmin.  Purple Pikmin are like Sumo wrestlers; about ten times as strong as regular Pikmin, they make for great warriors and can carry objects 10 times their weight!  White Pikmin are very small, insusceptible to herbicide, and can sniff out buried treasure.  However, don’t expect the game balance to slide, since each transformation flower can only generate up to 5 new Pikmin seeds, and as per the first game, you may only have up to 100 Pikmin on the field at any time.

PIKMIN2-001

Olimar was the hero of the first game, but this time he is accompanied by the rookie named Louie.  Louie acts as a secondary Pikmin leader.  This allows you to divide your forces to tackle different projects simultaneously.  For example, Olimar can be off defeating enemies while Louie waits for his Pikmin to break down a wall.  You can switch between the two characters at the press of a button.  This makes exploring the larger areas easier and more efficient before the sun goes down.

PIKMIN2-004Subterranean Worlds

In addition to exploring large environments littered with Pikmin-specific obstacles, the Player will find entrances to underground caves.  Once inside a cave, time stops and the Player can explore and do battle for as long as need be.  Since the Onions don’t go with you, you cannot respawn Pikmin, which plays into the strategy.  Each cave can delve several levels down with each level containing several pieces of treasure to collect, as well as new enemies and obstacles.  With so many floors, it really tests your strategy because your Pikmin numbers will quickly dwindle if you make mistakes along the way.  This can be disastrous, as the last floor is always home to a rather large boss monster, often visually impressive and requiring a new strategy to defeat.

The caves really extend the life of the game, offering up all sorts of play areas, and each feature a specific graphical “theme”.  These aren’t just boring caves; they’re a series of connected metallic platforms, a child’s toy-strewn bedroom floor, an underground reservoir (with beautiful trickling water), or a bright shiny garden.  It’s all in a day’s work for Olimar and crew, and like the first game, after a hard day’s work you return to your ship and read funny and endearing emails from the hapless Shacho (lit. “Boss” in Japanese), or your loving wife and kids.

PIKMIN2-003Graphics & Music

The graphics in this game are slightly improved over the first Pikmin, which was already looking great.  The artists have gone out of their way to create organic environments filled with precious details.  One of my favorites is when your Pikmin brush by flowers, sometimes a couple of shimmering butterflies will pop up and start fluttering around.  And you can attack and harvest the butterflies, too, if you want to.  There’s so much in this game, and it runs at a constant 30 fps.  The new Piklopedia allows you to view any of the game’s flora and fauna and hundreds of treasure items at any angle with a zoom.  This is great for reading the small print on the side of that Duracell battery you collected in stage one, for instance.  Each plant, animal, and sponsored treasure is modeled and textured with the utmost attention to detail.

PIKMIN2-006Sound and Music aren’t quite up to par with the visuals.  The music can be atmospheric, but is often clunky (though charming in its almost childlike percussive quality).  The audio in the beautifully rendered CG intro and endings, however, is very well-done, featuring hilarious character voices and beautiful compositions.  One of my favorite sound effects is the little wail a Pikmin makes when it’s dying, but perhaps even better are the little chants and tunes the Pikmin hum in unison as they traverse the landscape.  When you have 20 Pikmin of every color on the field, for example, they start humming a ridiculously cute rendition of Pikmin 1′s theme song!

Conclusion

Pikmin 2 has expanded on and refined every element from the first game.  Basically, they’ve given more Pikmin, more treasure, more levels, the multiplayer mode, and refined the game’s presentation with a number of Pixar-quality CG animations.  This bodes very well for things to come as the Pikmin series continues to flower.

Quick Run Down

PROs:

  • Two controllable leaders saves time
  • New Pikmin types add to the fun
  • Deep underground caverns to explore & conquer
  • No 30-day Time Limit!

CONs:

  • Some gamers may be put off by the game’s cute look

One Sentence Review: A wonderful introduction to the real-time strategy genre.
One Word Review: Addictive!

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