koopamaster's Wii de Asobu: Pikmin 2 (Wii) review

Pikmin 2 review

The original Pikmin game provided a fresh, interesting and overall fun take on the Real Time Strategy genre. When it was released on the Gamecube, Pikmin 2 turned the series into one of the well-loved Nintendo franchises, among the likes of Mario, Zelda and Starfox. Thanks to the New Play Control! range, Pikmin 2 has now been re-released on the Wii with widescreen and 480p support, as well as the obvious change of the control scheme.

The story picks up where the first game left off (assuming you got 25 or more ship parts in Pikmin), and Olimar is able to return to the Planet Hocotate. Once he gets to Hocotate Freight - a space shipping company that Olimar works for - he finds out that the company has stumbled upon financial troubles while he was gone, and has a debt of 10,000 Pokos. To get the debt to that amount of Pokos, the owner had to sell various items, including the S.S Dolphin (Olimar's ship). In order to allow the company to live on, Olimar and a new employee named Louie have to go back to the planet seen in the first game, and get a collection of items that are worth enough money to pay off the debt.

The game's not exactly the norm for the Real Time Stratergy genre; it packs more charm than any RTS game I can care to think of - the Pikmin humming the main theme is going to make you grin, no exceptions - and is also a lot more accessible. Each Pikmin has their different uses, and are all just as important as one another.

The red Pikmin are no longer the strongest, but can still walk through fire, and - after obtaining a special suit upgrade- so can you. They're also used to destroy holes which shoot out fire, allowing the other Pikmin types to pass through. The yellow Pikmin can now break down electrical barriers, and they'll be thrown higher than any other Pikmin type. The blue Pikmin can walk through water, and will try to save other Pikmin if they are drowning.

Aside from the three colours that you encountered in the first game, there are two new additions. There are purple Pikmin and white Pikmin. The purples are by far the strongest and heaviest types of Pikmin in the game. In fact, when carrying an item, one purple Pikmin account for 10 Pikmin. The only downside is that they are the slowest Pikmin in the game. The white Pikmin are invulnerable to toxic gases, and can dig up buried items in the game.

The core gameplay that you adored (or hated, for that matter) in Pikmin is certainly present in Pikmin 2, but there are a lot of changes added - all of which are implemented well and blend seamlessly with the original core gameplay mechanics.

Just like in the original Pikmin, Olimar and Louie will be able to explore huge areas with the Pikmin. These areas contain the obstacles and enemies (and some new enemies, for that matter) that you saw in the previous game. You'll need to break down walls, make bridges to cross into other areas, and some of the Pikmin types will see obstacles that only they can destroy. The areas are all elaborately designed and well thought out, each with a fitting piece of music playing in the background.

The addition of Louie has a huge impact on the Pikmin gameplay, and allows for even more multitasking than was possible in the first Pikmin game. You press the minus button on the Wii remote to switch between the two characters, which is incredibly helpful if the two are in different places.

Even with the addition of a second character to control, what is undoutedly the biggest change featured in Pikmin 2 is the removal of the time limits. In Pikmin, Olimar had a 30 day time limit in which he had to regain his missing ship parts. Each day was 15 minutes and the time limit, while giving you enough time to do the job, left some players with an unneeded sense of urgency. The games story eliminates any need for a time limit, so you have as much time to roam around the areas as you want. Yes, the days are still 15 minutes long, but the amount of in game days you have spent is irrelevant.

As you'll have gathered, Olimar and Louie have to collect different objects from the planet, which will go towards paying off the Hocotate Freight's debt. These objects can be anything; from fruit to just random junk - like bottle caps and batteries. The objects even include some old Nintendo products, such as the Game & Watch and a control stick.

Another big addition is the underground caves featured in the game. In the actual levels, there are several holes in the ground that Olimar, Louie and the active Pikmin can jump into. Each one will tell you what types of Pikmin are required for the different obstacles. These underground sections of the game consist of a number of different ground levels, each of which contains at least one object. The only problem with these areas is that they can get a bit boring. You can't leave the areas unless you see a hole which can be bashed by the Pikmin until water shoots out, which will then boost you to ground level. So, if you got bored of the underground and wanted to go back up to the surface, you'll just have to keep digging.

A very nice addition to the game was the 'Piklopedia' and 'Treasure Hoard'. They're both in-game lists of all the enemies and treasures that you've encountered so far, and all give descriptions on what they are. While it's not completely necessary for the games completion, it's a very welcome addition.

For the New Play Control! version, Nintendo decided to give the game a bit of a graphical update, and the result is great. The environments all look fantastic, even by Wii standards, while the character models look average.

Overall: 9.2

+ The core mechanics blend seamlessly with the new additions

+ The graphics are great, even by Wii standards

+ The Wii's control method is a perfect match for the game

- The character models could do with some work

- The underground caves can get slightly tedious

Pikmin 2 is a more than worthy successor to the original Pikmin, building upon the core mechanics in every aspect while adding some fantastic additions. While Pikmin 2 isn't exactly the game that RTS purists have been waiting for, what was already a charming and unique game has been vastly improved by the Wii controls. A truly essential purchase.
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