Hello, readers. It seems that lately, I have been caught in a Nintendo gaming trap, as I use my Wii for the first time in years. Released on the GameCube in 2001, the original Pikmin was rather odd, as it was an entirely new IP designed by Miyamoto himself. Pikmin‘s popularity would lead to a sequel being released in 2004, with a third game apparently in production for the Wii U. But how does Pikmin 2 hold up to its predecessor?
Pikmin 2 picks up almost exactly where the good ending of the first game leaves off, as Captain Olimar returns to his home planet of Hocotate after assembling a team of plant-like creatures he dubbed “Pikmin”. Olimar returns home to find Hocotate Freight, his employer, deep in debt. After realizing that the planet Olimar found the Pikmin on contains a number of treasures that can be sold to pay off the company’s debt, Hocotate Freight’s president sends Olimar back to collect these treasures and save the company. Joining Olimar is the gluttonous Captain Louie, and the two set off to help pay off their employer’s debt. The story is honestly fairly minimal, with most plot cutscenes happening at the very beginning and end of the game. Pikmin 2 does not end with the debt being paid off; there is still more to do after the game’s first ending. The story of Pikmin 2 does its job well enough, but like the first game, the plot is really only a minor part of the game.
Fundamentally, the gameplay of Pikmin 2 is extremely similar to the first game, though some new gameplay additions change up the experience somewhat. Having two captains allows for improved multitasking over the first game, as the player can simply press “Y” to switch from one captain to the other and both captains can control a squad of Pikmin. The two captains can also travel together; dismissing Pikmin also splits the two captains.
The flame-resistant red, the high-flying yellow, and amphibious blue Pikmin of the first game are back, though yellows now are immune to electricity instead of bomb-capable. The captains are also accompanied by white Pikmin, which are fast, immune to poison, and capable of digging up buried treasures, as well as purple Pikmin, which are heavy, slow, strong, and well-suited for combat. The two new Pikmin colors are only obtainable by throwing other Pikmin into flowers found in the game’s many caves.
Caves are a new mechanic to the second game; time does not pass in a cave and the majority of the game’s treasures are found in the caves scattered throughout the game’s four areas. The overworld treasures still often require solving problems through the use of Pikmin, but the prevalence of caves means an increased focus on combat relative to the first game. Additionally, the time limit present in the first game is gone; the sense of urgency that was so important in the first game is simply not found in Pikmin 2. Still, the gameplay of Pikmin 2 is similar enough to its predecessor that fans of the first game will likely enjoy the second.
Pikmin 2, like the other big first-party GameCube games, does a pretty good job of showing off what the GameCube can do. The world is decently colorful, and there is actually a fair bit of variance in cave designs. The music is decent but honestly pretty forgettable; much like the first game, the music is not bad but also not particularly memorable. Pikmin 2 proves, like most modern first-party Nintendo titles, that it is still possible to make technically competent games on less-than-optimal hardware.
Gamers seeking a copy of Pikmin 2 can purchase a twenty dollar copy of the Wii version; this review does not cover the new control scheme and this reviewer honestly cannot comment on the Wii controls. The GameCube version, which formerly sold for sixty dollars U.S. used, is now a much more managable thirty to forty-five dollars used. Honestly, thirty dollars or more for a GameCube game in 2012 is a bit much, but Nintendo fans who can find a bargain-priced copy of Pikmin 2 should definitely check it out. Though the game is certainly not perfect, it is still a solid title that is worth checking out, though probably not for the expected thirty dollar price point.
What of your Pikmin 2 experiences, readers? Is the lack of a time limit a good thing, as so many reviewers seem to think? Or does the removal of urgency hurt the experience? Are purple Pikmin horribly overpowered in combat? Let me know in the comments!