Review by Dr-Poque

"These little guys pack more of a punch the second time around."

Pikmin was the first game that I ever played on my GameCube. To be honest, it really let me down, so I wasn't really expecting much from the sequel. Luckily, my biggest problem with the original Pikmin game - the time limit - isn't a part of Pikmin 2. As a result, the player is now allowed to actually take their time to enjoy the beautiful environments without rushing to complete the game. Pikmin 2 pleasantly surprised me, bringing the franchise to its full potential.

The premise of this game is quite simple: travel through a selection of different areas (which greatly resemble giant versions of Earth) collecting "treasure" (blown-up versions of human trash) in order to save Captain Olimar's employer, Hocotate Freight, from massive debt. To carry these treasures back to his ship, as well as destroy walls, build bridges, and fight massive bug-like monsters, our old friend Captain Olimar must once again rely on the help of the Pikmin. Thankfully, Olimar also has another set of human hands this time around; Olimar's partner, Louie, is a second playable character, and his presence greatly improves the quality of the game. It is now possible to lead two separate groups of Pikmin, so one group can be fighting enemies while the other group works to demolish a wall on another part of the map.

You begin the game with about 5 red Pikmin, but that number grows rapidly. Pikmin can multiply by gathering tokens from plants or the corpses of fallen enemies and bringing them back to their "onions." As the Pikmin population grows, it becomes easier to gather even more items to increase your army even further. You will eventually encounter other onions (blue and yellow) on certain maps, which will join your fleet along with the different varieties of Pikmin they are home to. Finding new types of Pikmin will allow you to advance further in the game. For example, only yellow Pikmin can destroy electric fences and only blue ones can travel through water without drowning, so you will need both species in order to reach certain areas beyond such obstacles. There are also two new species of Pikmin in this game. White Pikmin are weak, but are poisonous to enemies, invulnerable to being poisoned themselves, and are able to sense object buried underground. The robust, purple Pikmin have ten times the strength (and weight) of the other Pikmin, but are available only by tossing other Pikmin into a particular species of underground flower. Therefore, purple Pikmin are more rare, so it's important to be careful not to lose them in combat. Although there are more varieties of Pikmin than in the original, they are still all very unique and essential to progress through the game, increasing the importance of strategy and making the game more fun to play.

The production quality of Pikmin 2 is absolutely top-notch. The visuals are astounding, thanks to gorgeous, vibrant environments and beautiful water effects. However, it's the audio quality that makes playing Pikmin 2 such an immersive experience. The music is catchy and appropriate, and the sound effects are exponentially better than in the original. The Pikmin hum, and each variety of Pikmin has a different death squeal. In addition, the monsters make horrifying sounds that makes the game feel even more action-packed. Overall, the audio seems less like a part of the game and more like an actual part of the world that Olimar and Louie find themselves in.

Of course, part of the problem with the time limit in the original Pikmin was that once time was up, the game was over. That's not the case this time around, as Pikmin 2 will provide you with hours upon hours of play time. Pikmin 2 is one of my favorite GameCube games, and I play it often, but I still haven't recovered all of Hocotate Freight's debt.

Pikmin 2 provides the player with a sense of satisfaction that I have never experienced with another console game. Even menial tasks like demolishing walls makes you feel good inside; not to mention the sensation you get when you ambush a giant beast! The game never seems to run out of surprises, always offering up a new monstrosity or a few new helpers, such as the confused Bulborbs who will join your army of Pikmin. Overall, Pikmin 2 makes up for every shortcoming in the original, greatly improving upon the already solid gameplay while also eliminating the feeling of apprehension that the time limit imposed. As someone who greatly disliked its predecessor, I can definitely guarantee that Pikmin 2 is a great game that is well worth buying.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/19/06

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