Pikmin 2 – GameCube
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date (NA): August 30th, 2004
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Nerd Rating: 9/10
Reviewed by Frag Winterbrew
Pikmin is an incredible video game series by Nintendo, based on a planet where the wildlife evolves into creatures that stretch beyond imagination. The plot of Pikmin 2 follows 0.8mm tall Captain Olimar returning home following a crash landing into the planet of the Pikmin. When he discovers that the company that he works for is in deep debt, his boss demands that he returns to the planet in search of treasure with his fellow employee Louie. Once returning to the Pikmin Planet (later to be known as PNF-404), Olimar finds the Pikmin creatures at his aid once more. That’s the story Nintendo puts into your hands; an interesting piece of the world is the story that goes unspoken but referenced. The Pikmin Planet is commonly thought to be a planet of post-human inhabitance, which is often hinted at by the items considered to be treasure on the planet. Items such as old Game Boys, globes, and paint tubes litter the environment for you to admire. That’s what first attracted me to the series. The secondary lore is subtle like rhyme in poetry. It’s not necessary to enjoy the game, but if you dig into it, you’ll find another layer of meaning. This is a defining feature for the series, subtlety.
The Distant Planet is beautifully designed with a large amount of scenic detail that is only amplified by its amazing soundtrack. The music uses a very natural pace and tone that varies with location and time of day. It grows frantic during large boss fights and stays very soft spoken in the calm mornings. Every little bit of detail is minor, however it really adds up well together. Subtle noises in ambiance and the plant life really do great things in this game.
Plot and world elements aside, the game’s main mechanics revolve around growing, raising, and fighting with an army of up to one hundred flower creatures. The sequel builds vastly upon the original title’s game play, with new features such as two captains to control the army, fresh Pikmin types, and a new multiplayer feature. Pikmin 2 also manages to remove some of the negative bits of its predecessor such as a thirty day time limit that prevented major exploration. As a result, Pikmin 2 greatly emphasizes exploring the world at your own pace, which grants you time to really soak in the fresh visuals. The controls essentially carry over from the original game with very little tweaking to perfect the formula.
A piece that departs from the original game is tunnel exploring which becomes a bulky part of this title, with half of Pikmin 2 revolving around underground adventures. These adventures become a bit of a pseudo-dungeon crawler. The two worlds have separate wildlife with some strictly above ground while there remain a few creatures that exist in both areas. Most of the bosses rest beneath ground, giving the sub-terrain suitable threats.
Another change is the exciting new Pikmin colors. Purples have the strength of ten Pikmin but move incredibly slowly. Whites are the fastest moving ones, can see treasure buried under the ground, and even poison enemies when eaten. They’re flawlessly integrated into the new game with the old Pikmin. The only veteran Pikmin to experience change in ability is Yellow. The bomb rocks from the original game have grown in size. Becoming too large for Yellow Pikmin to carry, they now gain electrical properties. Reds return as the strongest fighters with fire immunity and Blues retain their water breathing.
The new Pikmin colors add new layers to combat allowing for more strategic plotting. Each enemy is unique and requires a different way of addressing them. Battles are much more diverse compared to the original and still not forgiving in the slightest. A new addition to the series is spicy and bitter sprays, the former providing speed and power buffs to your Pikmin while the latter stuns enemies for a brief period. This leaves combat in Pikmin 2 to carry over the dance turf war vibe of the original. It’s refreshing compared to the original, the tougher and more numerous enemies being well balanced with the additions brought into your combat arsenal. It doesn’t feel tired or even remotely boring after dozens of playthroughs, and it stays just as lively as your early experiences.
The constant danger of being in a post-apocalyptic world, endless replay value, and Nintendo managing to keep blood thirsty flower warriors undeniably adorable grants Pikmin 2 unique footing in the gaming industry. Pikmin 2 is a luxurious toilet, it flushes away walls of repetition that have been melded on for generations and manages to fix the limitations of its predecessor to become revolutionary. Pikmin 2 essentially brought light to the unexplored capabilities of real-time Strategy games and for this high service it deserves a 9 out of 10. Celebrating it’s tenth anniversary on August 30th, this wonderful game has truly managed to stay fantastic after all this time.
Click the link if you would like to see more information about this game’s sequel, Pikmin 3!
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