Review by super_luigi16

"Five steps forward, two steps backward? Iíll take it"

As the first internal project to come to the Gamecube, the original Pikmin was greatly cherished for its unique gameplay--I have not found many other games like Pikmin that have reached the commercial success and critical acclaim that Pikmin attained. And there was a good reason for Pikmin's success; it was one of those games where everything just went right. Pikmin 2, the colloquially-named sequel, is also one of those games. It retains the general gameplay (with some major additions), builds upon the original, and everything just went right. While there are some major detracting factors for me personally, it is still a wonderful entry with very little to objectively criticize.

Introduction

Pikmin 2 is a “real-time fantasy strategy game.” Seriously, I had to go look that up; though, I feel as if it could better be categorized as a mass-strategy game. The basic premise is that you're now the size of an ant in a post-apocalyptic Earth (or in that grassy field near your local office building; whichever works). You encounter these even smaller carrot-like creatures that are an industrious bunch; they can work together in groups of up to 100 and can do anything from fight enemies (usually larger bugs) to carry treasures. However, what they crave is guidance--a leader--and that's where you come in. You have to lead the little squirts for your personal gain (sounds selfish, doesn't it?), and reach the greatest prize of all.

Story --- 6/10

Firstly, let me emphasize how little this category matters. I only put this part in to give you a warning ahead of time; Pikmin 2 is not about the story. The plot is simply a means to continue the gameplay, and it acts as a backdrop for the day-to-day tasks you embark upon. If you're looking for a deep, moral, immersive storyline that will give you some sort of greater meaning, you'll be disappointed. Regardless, the plot centers around Olimar yet again; after returning from his adventure in the original Pikmin, Olimar finds that his company, Hocotate Freight, is in severe debt, and he has to bail them out. And, to get the necessary moolah, Olimar needs to return to the planet of the Pikmin and collect treasures. While this is the basic premise of the game, it does take a slight twist about halfway through, but this doesn't change the fact that the story of Pikmin 2 is abysmal. But that really doesn't matter when the game is as gameplay-driven as Pikmin 2.

Case in point, don't expect a story if and when you buy Pikmin 2; the story doesn't define this game as the story in an RPG would. However, that doesn't mean you'll be a little teary-eyed when you watch that last cutscene; your character attachment comes from the gameplay itself, not a script.

Gameplay --- 9/10

This is where Pikmin 2 truly shines--the gameplay is astounding. Not only is it insanely unique, it is well-implemented, engaging, and very much strategical. The basic idea is that you're commanding a squadron of up to 100 Pikmin and you boss them around for a day to get larger tasks done--this game was made for managers and executives. Anyways, so your tasks can range from collecting various treasure pieces to spelunking (I'll get into that later) and from knocking down a wall to draining a pond. Of course, all of these tasks require specialization upon the part of your Pikmin, and this is where their various colors come in.

So you have the three returning colors from the original Pikmin: red, yellow, and blue. Red Pikmin are resistant to fire, Yellow Pikmin are resistant to electricity (they can no longer carry bomb rocks), and Blue Pikmin have gills and can breathe underwater. With these Pikmin, you can get most anything done...but not everything. You get two new varieties that have special purposes of their own and they even get their own colors: purple and white. Purple Pikmin are Fat with a capital “F.” They weigh as much as 10 normal Pikmin and have tremendous girth that can be useful for combating tougher enemies. They also have ten times the strength of normal Pikmin, allowing them to move heavier objects; however, they are also tremendously slow. White Pikmin are quite the opposite; they move quickly, but they also have the ability to sense and dig up treasures buried beneath the soil. Lastly, they are resistant to toxic fumes which can help with walls that are emitting poisonous gas.

Together, these Pikmin will conquer just about everything in your way--you just have to tell them what to do. Need to break down that huge wall? Put thirty reds on the job. Need to make it to the other side of the pond? Escort forty blues with you. Need to clear a path through toxic gas? Five whites will do. However, Pikmin 2 is very much about divide and conquer. And, to help you meet this end, you have two captains at your disposal to command Pikmin: Olimar and his drooling partner Louie. With two captains to deal with, you can get a lot more done in a day; for example, you can go in caves! Since your last visit as Olimar, new areas have been found, and these areas have caves that you can delve into. These caves hold unforeseeable challenges and untold treasures that expand the length of the game.

These additions are certainly welcome; they make the gameplay much more immersive. There are all sorts of new challenges and puzzles to undertake that are far more complex than many of the challenges introduced in the original. The caves add another level of complexity and drive the gameplay above ground later on. The bosses are amazing; they range from the easily defeated Burrowing Snagret to mechanically monstrous Man-at-Legs. Practically all of the bosses you'll face will be underground, though there are some tougher enemies above ground that range from the Fiery Bulbax to the Gatling Groink. The new challenges also don't disappoint; for example, one treasure in the Perplexing Pool requires you to have blues knock down a barrier, defeat some enemies, then have your other captain throw whites over a wall (onto an island) to dig up a treasure, and finally have the blues carry the treasure back to the ship. The complexity of the game is greatly enhanced, and this no doubt makes the game so much more fun than the original.

However, I do feel as if Pikmin 2 is much easier than the original. The bosses and enemies in Pikmin seemed so much harder in the fact that they were difficult to dispatch, and they had unforgiving attacks. In the original, I could lose upwards of 50 Pikmin in a day; in Pikmin 2, I'd be surprised to lose 5 Pikmin. Also, the challenges in Pikmin 2 seem much less intuitive than those of the first Pikmin. While certain projects and levels in the original could take days to fully finish, tasks in the second game are disjointed and frankly easier to complete. They don't take as much time to complete, nor do they demonstrate the difficulty present in projects of the first game.

Regardless, the gameplay is still stellar. Pikmin 2 has much more to offer and keeps you on your toes with new enemies to boot, and new Pikmin to raise. Pikmin 2 is just as engaging as the first with a few setbacks that keep the game from being truly great.

Graphics --- 9/10

With 100 little indeterminate forms following you around, it would be hard to keep track of them if the graphics were sub-par. However, the graphics of Pikmin 2 do not disappoint; each action is carried out fluidly and dynamically, and the individual Pikmin are easy to discern. Even when fighting massive bosses, the graphics do not hinder the gameplay. The backgrounds and enemies themselves are often simple forms, though enemies like the Fiery Bulbax retain graphics that highlight their magma-ridden body. While the background graphics themselves are a step up from Pikmin, they still have the problem that they look simplistic and sometimes lazy. Despite this, the graphics for Pikmin 2 still stand out among the dodgier graphics of other Gamecube games.

Sound --- 8/10

Pikmin isn't meant to be one of those games with an extremely powerful, and often times overwhelming, soundtrack--Pikmin is supposed to have a soundtrack that compliments the adventure and exploration of the game itself. This is reflected upon the score itself; the music for the various areas is soft, and is simply meant to underscore the gameplay itself. The pieces present in the caves are much the same--they don't attempt to do anything more than provide adequate background music. And Pikmin 2 can get away with that. There's nothing wrong with unimpressive music because the music is implicitly driven to support the gameplay. The sound effects fall into the exact same roll; they are clean, sharp, and reflect the movements within the game itself. However, there's no reason to go breaking the champagne over Pikmin 2's soundtrack.

Replayability --- 10/10

Whereas the original Pikmin suffered from a short game that would usually last no more than ten hours, Pikmin 2 corrects that with a game that can last up to thirty hours if you're taking your time. The length of the days has not changed (they are still approximately fifteen minutes long), but the time spent on each day has dramatically increased with the proliferation of caves. These spelunking adventures can span anywhere from ten minutes to an hour-and-a-half depending on the cave itself (don't worry about the length; the game saves after each level in the cave), and with about three caves per level (many of which you'll revisit), there is plenty to accomplish in Pikmin 2.

The story mode isn't the only mode to complete, however; there is an extensive challenge mode which adds on another five to ten hours depending on how much time you want to put into it. This challenge mode is also multiplayer, so you and your partner can work together to finish these somewhat difficult levels. Finally, there is a two-player battle mode which pits Olimar against Louie in an epic battle to collect...marbles! Again, you can get a decent amount of time out of this level. Not to mention that you can always replay story mode to log another 20+ hours into Pikmin 2. Overall, the second game greatly resolved the length issues of the original.

Conclusion

Pikmin 2 is an excellent gameplay-driven game. It does not attempt to stimulate your morals or ethics with a compelling storyline, nor does it attempt to woo you with revolutionary graphics; it simply attempts to pull you in with these cute little creatures called Pikmin. The gameplay is truly astounding despite my reservations, and Pikmin 2 builds upon its predecessor in many ways to join the ranks as one of the best Gamecube games made.

+ Unique gameplay
+ Major expansions and additions upon the original
+ More problem-solving, strategy involved
+ Great exploration
+ Fitting sound and graphics
+ Challenge and battle modes
+ Longer game
- Loss of innovation
- Much less difficult

Recommendation

If you can live without a story to pull you through the game, Pikmin 2 is an exemplary game that is unlike most anything you've ever played before. It is definitely worth the money to buy even if you have to settle for the Wii port. Don't miss out on one of the best internal projects ever to come out of Nintendo.

FINAL SCORE --- 9/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/18/12

Game Release: Pikmin 2 (US, 08/30/04)


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