Review by Lagoona
"Onion Ants 2 - A lot of fun"
Pikmin 2 is the sequel to Miyamoto's innovative hit Pikmin, both being Nintendo Gamecube exclusive titles. In case you wonder about the somewhat strange title of the review, here's why. The actual stars of this strategy puzzle simulation crossover are the Pikmins - small, onion-like creatures that crawl around almost like ants. The general principle of the game - you control the 'hero' of the game and through him you harvest and control your Pikmins - remained the same as it was in Pikmin 1, but of course Nintendo implemented a few new elements, such as new breeds of Pikmin with new abilities. But more on that later.
Story - 6/10
The story of Pikmin 2 continues where it left in the first part. Our hero from part one, space freighter Captain Olimar returns to his home planet Hocotate only to find that the company he works for has accumulated a huge debt. But when his boss sees the 'treasures' Olimar brought with him, he orders Olimar to go back to that planet and get more! So Olimar and his buddy Louie return to the mysterious, very much Earth-like planet for a new adventure.
While there isn't much story in the game, you progress by collecting more and more treasures, which are actually everyday life items such as batteries or bottle caps. Once you collect enough to repay the debt, you can fly home! Woo-hoo! </sarcasm> Or maybe there is even more?
So, in short, you can pretty much leave away the story part - this isn't what will motivate you to play the game.
Gameplay - 10/10
Gameplay, this is where Pikmin 2 excels. Well, actually, not much changed in terms of basic controls and mechanics since Pikmin 1, but that's a good thing, seeing as how good it already was before. You control either Olimar or Louie. You can also divide the two and switch between the two, that way let each of them perform a different task, or the same task from two different sides. Both behave exactly the same, the only difference is the sound of their whistle. Umh yeah, the whistle is what you control the Pikmin with. It has an area of effect, selecting and gathering all Pikmin in its range. These Pikmin now follow you around, almost like in the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Now you can make the Pikmin do different things that help you advance the game - throw them around so they attack enemies, have them tear down walls or carry home treasures. On the overworld, you play the game day-wise. You land on the planet in the morning and do your job (or other fun things) with your Pikmins during the day. But in the evening you need to get back to your rocket. As the Pikmin planet is too dangerous at night, you spend the nights in your rocket in an orbit. Also make your you don't leave your 'mins behind, or they'll die... After each day, you get a short summary of what you collected and what your Pikmin count is.
So far, so good. But what makes it more challenging and interesting is the fact that there are Pikmins of different colors. The fire-resistant battle Pikmin, the electricity-resistant and light but weaker yellow Pikmins and the blue water-Pikmin had already made their appearance in the original game. In Pikmin 2, two new kinds of Pikmin are introduced. White Pikmin are small and weak, but very fast - and they're poisonous. They are also the only ones that are unaffected by poison clouds, all other Pikmins would die touching them. Last but not least, there are the purple Pikmin, very slow but extremely strong and heavy. They weigh ten times more than all other Pikmin, which comes in handy for balance or weight puzzle elements and for carrying heavy things. Both purple and white Pikmin can only be found in special places and in small numbers, so don't drown or burn them immediately. >_<
Of course, there are also new kinds of enemies to be found, but the most intriguing and challenging novelty are the underground areas. You enter these caves through an opening in the overworld and try to reach their end. They consist of several floors you need to clear one after the other. There are a few places where you can go back to the surface without losing all your treasures, but if you're in big trouble because you ran out of Pikmins, you can also make an emergency escape. That way, however, you'll lose all the treasures and have to get them again. More often than not, a boss fight awaits at the very bottom, where you can get an important item that improves your abilities. One more thing worth mentioning is that Nintendo got rid of the time limit. You now have unlimited days to spend with whatever you like doing most with your 'mins, and not only 40 days as in the predecessor.
Additionally to the single player story mode, there are some other modes. When you find a certain treasure in the story mode, challenge mode is unlocked, where you try to finish levels as fast as possible while collecting all the treasures and without losing any Pikmin in order to get the highscore. There is also a multiplayer mode. Actually, there are two. One is a cooperative challenge mode, the other is the versus mode, where you play on a split screen against a human opponent, each trying to win by either stealing the opponents marble or by collecting four neutral marbles. This of course, can be a lot of fun. But it isn't well suitable for newbies, or they will get nowhere.
Summarizing, the general fun gameplay remained unchanged from part 1, and enough new elements in the form of new Pikmins, underground levels, new enemies and new game modes were added to make it a worthy sequel.
Graphics - 8.5/10
Pikmin 2, as his predecessor, is a very bright and colorful game. The graphics are not spectacular, but are very smooth with nice effects (such as water or light effects) and never fail to show what they should show. The camera can be adjusted to one's needs, and not once in my game time have I seen some sort of graphic glitch or clipping or the like. The levels generally are nicely designed, and the Pikmin are just plain cute. There are a few small but nice FMV cutscenes, too. Dialogue sequences and tutorial parts are done with simple textboxes and some in-game graphics. A further PLUS is the Piklopedia, where all your treasures and all enemies or plants you've encountered are listed. They are animated and you can even throw them some carrots and see how they react. Sweet!
Sound - 7/10
The music in Pikmin 2 is ok. It doesn't actually stand out, but it doesn't get annoying either, which I consider to be an important point in any game. It just supports the atmosphere and goes together very well with the optical appearance of the levels.
The sound effects of the game go in the same category as the music itself. They generally suit the corresponding actions very well and fit into the overall atmosphere of the game. One could argument that they sometimes are a bit too `kiddy`, but I would say they are cute - and that suits the game well.
If you're looking for voice acting, you'll have to go look in another game - there is no such thing in Pikmin 2. Also, there is no narrator or similar who'd tell some story bits, this is all done by films, pics and text.
Replayability - 7.5/10
The main game isn't very long. But you can always go back to every point and place in the game, be it to get a treasure you missed or simply to breed some more Pikmin. It takes roughly 30 hours to complete the story mode. There is also no 'New Game +' or something. However, as already mentioned, you have the challenge mode, which can keep you busy for hours. It really can put you in the feared and loved 'just one more try' mood.
Quickly mentioning the 2-player mode (there is a versus mode and a cooperative challenge mode) - I never spent much time with it, which was mainly due to the limited availability of a willing friend/opponent. So this factor did not go into my score - if you consider getting the game, don't forget this might or might not be something that would influence your own opinion of the game, I'm almost sure it would go in the positive direction.
Overall - 9/10
I can really recommend this game. Especially if you liked Pikmin 1, you will not be disappointed. Nintendo kept the good things from the first game and added a lot of new features that are well worth the (nowadays already pretty low) price for this game. It is very entertaining and a lot of love was put into the details. The only thing I could see why somebody might not like the game is the somewhat kiddy look. But me, myself and I found it just plain cute - so don't let this fool you. *pours spicy spray on you*
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 09/20/06, Updated 07/16/08
Game Release: Pikmin 2 (EU, 10/08/04)
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