Gamestyle Archive intro: Richard returns with another Gamecube review but only gives out an excellent score.
Published: October 2004
When the original Pikmin came out, few could understand the innovative concept at work; which appeared to be a cross between Lemmings and an RTS. The goal was to control little critters who could help repair Captain Olimar’s broken ship so he could return home. Pikmin 2 continues right where Pikmin 1 left off. After returning home from the long trip, Captain Olimar finds out that his company (Hocotate Shipping) is in serious debt – to the tune of 10,000 pokos. The only way to pay this off is by collecting valuable treasure (like bottle caps, cans, etcetera) from the planet that Olimar has just left.
To save his company – and his job – he sets off to the planet of the Pikmin to find more treasure. However, this time Olimar knows better than to go alone and he brings Louie along to help him out. Louie isn’t just a character that follows Olimar around, but an essential part of the gameplay. In the original game, you were able to direct Pikmin to do various tasks – such as building bridges, destroying walls, battling enemies and recovering parts of your ship. Normally you would have assigned one task to a group of Pikmin, then another task to a different group of Pikmin. Now you can achieve two things at once: the catch with this strategy is that you don’t have to physically run over and control each group of Pikmin – with Louie around you can effectively ‘micromanage’ your Pikmin’s tasks because he has all of the same abilities as Olimar.
Besides micromanagement, Nintendo has made sure there are specific puzzles that require the use of both characters. Louie is just one of the gameplay tweaks to be found in Pikmin 2. Also conspicuous by its absence is an absolute time limit; you don’t have to leave in thirty ‘days’ (or within any amount of time). This gives the player more freedom to explore the world at their own leisure. However, until the game is completed, day and night still regularly pass. Every time you land your ship you begin with a full day to go item searching – you have to finish before nightfall or you and your Pikmin will be eaten by the inhospitable inhabitants. Another change from Pikmin 1 is the addition of underground areas. These not only expand the size of the levels, but add a new dimension to gameplay – because here you don’t have the ability to make more Pikmin. To make matters worse, the underground areas are typically populated with more (and occasionally stronger) enemies. Players must think carefully and tactically during battles so as not to lose any of their precious Pikmin.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the game are two new types of Pikmin: fat purple Pikmin are the strongest of the bunch who can carry ten times their weight (and weigh ten times as much). Naturally, there are new objects that require the strength of over 100 Pikmin to shift – and since you can only have 100 Pikmin on the field at any given time, their assignment is clear. The other new addition is the white Pikmin. These guys are immune to a new threat – poison – and also have the ability to attack enemies with their own poison for extra damage (thus making them useful for fighting large enemies). The familiar red, blue and yellow Pikmin all return, making a total of five different types of Pikmin. (Incidentally, if you haven’t played the original: red are immune to fire and are good fighters; blue are the only ones who can go underwater; and yellow are immune to electricity and can be thrown the highest.)
Presentation is similar to the original game, and likewise, the music is soothing and subtle (with the added novelty of Pikmin singing in chorus as they follow you). The first Pikmin game focused almost exclusively on outside areas. In Pikmin 2, the environments are more diverse – backgrounds have an organic feel to them, scenery is lush and filled with plenty of green bushes, and the water is coolly-reflective. There’s even a nice graphical flourish that sees Sakura petals blowing along the ground (or conversely, a gentle amount of falling snow). While the visuals are generally pleasing to the eye, the style isn’t nearly as fresh as the original game. Also, compared to other Gamecube games, Pikmin 2 doesn’t particularly stand out.
While Nintendo may have failed to spruce up the graphics, they certainly haven’t fudged on replay value. The game alone gets points for being open-ended; you can spend an unhealthy amount of time simply scouring the world for all of the hidden items that need collecting. Should you tire of this, you can always invite a friend over for two-player matches where your respective Pikmin compete to find five yellow marbles the fastest. If you’re still not satisfied, whack in the e-reader to introduce some new mini-games. With an added multiplayer mode, Pikmin 2 is bound to please Gamecube owners for some time to come.
Overall, Pikmin 2 expands upon the Pikmin series. It adds a few new gameplay elements, has multiplayer support, and is perfectly suited for players of all ages – not too difficult and fairly straightforward. Even though Pikmin 2 may not feel as fresh as the original, it’s still fairly novel and a nice change from the slew of first-person shooters and 3D platformers that get lost among the crowd.
Gamestyle Score: 8/10