Pikmin 2 Review
With Pikmin 2, Nintendo has addressed the bulk of the shortcomings of its predecessor by crafting a game that tops the original in nearly every way.
Pikmin 2 is the follow-up to 2001's Pikmin, Nintendo's unique, nature-based strategy game. The series casts you as Captain Olimar, a bulbous-nosed space traveler who is tiny in stature and big on bad luck. The first Pikmin put you in control of Olimar as he raced to reconstruct his spacecraft, the Dolphin, after crash-landing it on a mysterious planet. The day was saved when Olimar discovered sentient local flora--which he named pikmin--that ended up helping him to collect the pieces of his ship so that he could escape. The original game was, at times, cute and a little disturbing, but it had an undeniable charm despite its modest length. Much the same holds true for Pikmin 2, but this time out, Nintendo has addressed the bulk of the shortcomings of its predecessor by crafting a game that tops the original in nearly every way.
Pikmin 2's story continues Olimar's adventures as he returns to the planet of the pikmin to collect artifacts that he can exchange for pokos, the local currency back on his home planet. His current employer, Hocotate Freight, has found itself 10,000 pokos in debt, which results in Olimar's ship being repossessed. So it's up to you, as Olimar, to save the day before anything else disastrous happens to Hocotate. To help gather the funds as quickly as possible, Olimar is joined by an "assistant" of questionable caliber, named Louie, and a chatty ship that's fixated on material goods.
Upon arriving on the planet, the good captain goes about reconnecting with his multicolored, faithful minions, who've added a couple of hues to their total number, namely in the form of white and purple pikmin. As before, each color group of pikmin will have three stages of development--leaf, bud, and flower--that will affect its speed. Furthermore, each color group will have its own unique abilities. Blue pikmin can move freely in water, red pikmin are fire resistant and make for excellent attackers, and yellow pikmin are electrically charged and can handle high voltage with ease. The white newcomers are resistant to poison and can find hidden items that are invisible to the human eye. The little, pale fellows are also poisonous, causing deadly indigestion when gobbled by foes. Finally, the purple pikmin are the sumo wrestlers of the bunch, because they boast strength that's equal to 10 average pikmin. You'll achieve victory by carefully making use of your leafy compadres and their unique abilities.
While this may sound like a redux version of the original game's premise at first blush, it's not, really. Pikmin 2 features a significantly longer single-player experience. At the same time, you'll notice several new gameplay elements as well as some significant tweaks to its original mechanics that end up delivering a better overall gameplay experience. The basic core mechanic involves simply exploring your environment, with pikmin in tow. Luckily, you can use pikmin to take out enemies, as well as to collect the goods you need. Your time will be broken up into daily increments that are spent on the planet's surface during its daylight hours, which are tracked via an onscreen meter.
The addition of Louie to the game's cast segues nicely into the revamped gameplay in Pikmin 2, which can be summed up in one word: multitasking. Despite the fact that the 30-day limit has been removed, there's still a sense of urgency to the game, because making your way through the environments can eat up your day. Your treks through the planet's areas will yield all manner of bric-a-brac that your ship computer will absorb and convert to pokos that go toward erasing your debt.
A new addition to your hunt will be underground caves that are similar to the dungeons in an RPG. When you find an entrance, you'll be able to enter it with your pikmin. The catch is that you're basically limited to the pikmin types that you take in with you, so you'll have to be strategic about who comes along on the journey. You will get a bit of a warning as to what types of hazards await you, which allows you to select the appropriately immune strain of pikmin, but you'll still have to be careful. You'll face a daunting menagerie of creatures in the underground caves, which feature randomly generated layouts and end in some challenging bosses. While you really won't face anything that's insurmountable, you won't get very far if you're sloppy. Any miscalculation on your part, especially during a boss fight, and you can plan on losing pikmin in droves. You will be able to take your time as you explore the caves, though, because time above ground essentially freezes when you're down there. Not only does this let you be as methodical as you'd like, but also it extends what you can get done in a day if you organize your goals efficiently.