Official Pikmin 2 site opens

Nintendo cuts the ribbon on official Web site for the upcoming Pikmin sequel.

TOKYO-- Nintendo has opened the official Japanese Web site for its upcoming GameCube title Pikmin 2. The most prominent eye candy featured on the site is a new, two-minute long trailer, but the site also outlines the primary changes to the game since Pikmin's first installment.

The original Pikmin was released in 2001, and told the story of Captain Olimar, forced to land on an unknown planet during his vacation after his ship is wrecked by a meteor. There he is aided by small creatures called Pikmins, who help to fix his ship and send him home. Pikmin 2 takes place shortly after Captain Olimar arrives home. After returning to his workplace, Olimar finds out that a new recruit named Loojie messed up on his first job, sending the company to the brink of bankruptcy. In the midst of agonizing over what to do about the situation, Olimar finds out that one of the objects that he brought back from the Pikmin planet turns out to be very valuable. Learning that the planet was abundant with such objects, Olimar and Loojie's boss sends them to the planet to find enough objects to bring the company out of debt.

In Pikmin 2, you'll assume the role of Olimar or his assistant Loojie as you scavenge items on the planet of the Pikmins. Unlike the original installment where you had only 30 days, there is no time limit in Pikmin 2. In addition to the three different Pikmins from the original Game, Pikmin 2 will introduce two new Pikmins--a fat purple Pikmin that has enormous strength but can't be thrown far (and walks extremely slowly) and a small white Pikmin that contains poison and moves quickly. Using the five different Pikmins, you'll have to find items that are scattered all over the map while avoiding more than 60 different creatures on the planet. Creatures that you've encountered will be collected in a library, where you can see them move around and provide them with carrots for further observation.

In addition to the field map, Pikmin 2 also has an underground world that you can go in and out of by finding blowholes scattered throughout the planet. The underground has a lot of treasures, but there are no onions that can be used to sprout new Pikmins, and you'll also have to face stronger monsters as you advance further. There's no concept of time while you're in the underworld, so you won't have to worry about making it back to the home ship before it becomes nighttime.

Aside from the main game mode, Pikmin 2 also has modes where you can cooperate with or challenge your friends. In challenge mode, you can team up with another player to aim for a high score in the underground world. And in Battle mode, you and your opponent have to go into each other's territory to bring back marbles. By connecting a GBA and e-Reader to the GameCube console and sliding through a special card, you'll also be able to play puzzle games based on Pikmin. Three free sample puzzle cards will come included with the purchase of Pikmin 2, and you'll be able to buy additional cards separately.

Pikmin 2 will be released on April 29 in Japan at the retail price of 5,800 yen ($55). The game was originally scheduled to come out late last year, but Nintendo delayed its launch due to development issues and to ensure that it would meet customer expectations. No American release date has been finalized for the game.

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