Review by brutusmuktuk

Reviewed: 01/16/06

Nintendo's new, creative RTS-style series thrown into the dungeons

Nintendo introduced an interesting style of gameplay with the original Pikmin. It utilizes real-time strategy elements, but instead of having the gamer play god over all of the units, it gives the gamer a character to use to control all of the units through. Understandably, Nintendo makes a sequel to their original and very fun game. Pikmin 2 falls short, unfortunately, and lacks the charm and originality of Pikmin. Where it tries to be different is its greatest downfall.

Story – 8/10

Nintendo created a charming story for the original game, using Captain Olimar’s journal log to explain his reactions to the world and creatures he has just encountered. Now that Olimar has experienced the Pikmin and the other strange creatures of strange worlds, that element of wonder and awe is gone. In its place, Nintendo creates a rather cute story that uses the Pikmin as laborers who must collect the various objects of the world that have high monetary value. Nintendo does seem to comment on the corporate bigheads who use insignificant (from their point of view) laborers and put out their full potential in order to make the most money for the bigheads. But at the same time, Nintendo just has fun with using the Pikmin concept in the corporate viewpoint. It’s a fun story, and the dialogue is often hilarious.

Gameplay – 7/10

Nintendo, in the original, gave gamers a time limit in which to complete the game. You had 30 game days to find all thirty ship parts, which meant one ship part per day, on average. This added suspense to the game, and a sense of danger, along with pushing the gamer to get at least one part in that day – which lasted about 20 minutes in real time. Some gamers didn’t like this, so Nintendo does away with the time limit in Pikmin 2, which gives the gamer some freedom, but also takes away some sense of worth in the meantime.

There are a couple of differences between Pikmin 1 and 2: there are two playable characters now, and Nintendo added dungeon crawling sequences. Having two playable characters really makes things easier, seen as how one character can take a group of pikmin around while another watches over a different group of pikmin as they work on a project. You have to switch between each playable character, obviously, but it makes doing two tasks at once that much easier. Pikmin are easier to keep track of, and finding multiple valuables at once is much more possible. This doesn’t make the game any easier, it just makes it take less time to find everything by giving you more control.

The other difference is the dungeon crawling bits, which comprise of the majority of the game. In the outside world, you can only work during daylight, so that when the sun sets, it’s time for you and your pikmin to get out of there lest they become food for the planet’s predators. In the dungeons, time stops for the outside world, and you have unlimited time to get through each dungeon. Now, this isn’t so bad, but the dungeons can grow tedious and frustrating. Searching for items, or even the end of the level, can take a little while sometimes, but worse of all, killing enemies is much more of a chore than it is outside. Outside, when enemy corpses are brought to the mother ships, they are planted in the ground as more pikmin. In the dungeons they give you a few coins, which, really, are pointless after a certain point in the game, and don’t offer you more pikmin. So losing pikmin in the dungeon becomes a pain, because these enemies don’t replace the ones you’ve lost. All of the boss fights take place underground, too, and these can be very, very frustrating as they kill mass amounts of pikmin in one attack.

If you’ve played the original Pikmin, you will find bits to enjoy. Exploring the outside world with your pikmin is lots of fun, and unearthing the hidden treasures still retains its excitement. There’s a challenge to both finding the treasures and then finding a way to unearth them, and that challenge makes it worth playing. Not to mention, the co-op mode is rather fun, though you may find yourself annoyed with the dungeon crawling and tough enemies. Versus is fun as well, especially in the more chaotic levels where you’re fighting both the very tough enemies and each other.

Visuals – 8/10

The game looks good. The enemies and monsters are fun to look at with their creative, sometimes grotesque designs. While this may go under gameplay, you’ll also notice how pikmin bunch together now when crossing bridges, which in the original became a chore when they pushed each other into the water. I’d say Nintendo improved on the visual quality of this game in comparison to the original.

Sound – 8/10

The music works, although at times the game can be a little too quiet. You’ll likely be entertained by the sounds that the pikmin and other monsters emit. Of course, the pikmin make sounds that make them cute, but also bring liveliness to them that would be missing otherwise.

Longevity – 9/10

There’s a lot to do in this game, and with the introduction of the dungeons, the game lasts even longer than the original. While you may find yourself frustrated at times, even the best games can cause frustration. After you finish the campaign, and collect all of the collectibles, there’s still co-op and versus modes to play around with. I had a lot of fun with this game, and recommend it to those who not only enjoyed the original, but feel they have the patience to get through some of its slower parts.

Score – 7/10

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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