Pikmin 2
Reviewed by Caitlin Lord
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2005-05-31 GameCube Action/Adventure E (Everyone) Nintendo

When the first Pikmin game was released in 2001, it was arguably one of the most original games to come out for a Nintendo system in a long time. Not only did legendary video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto have the reigns of the project, but also the concept behind the game itself was fresh and inventive. Although the first Pikmin never ended up becoming as much of a commercial success as some of Miyamoto's other creations, it did well enough and had caused enough of a stir to warrant a sequel.

I have to admit, I expected Pikmin 2 to be a pale shadow of the original. I've been burned too many times by games released lazily and without sincerity in the last half of a console's life and it's made me cynical. However, fans of the original Pikmin as well as curious first timers won't be disappointed by what they find in this sequel.

The story picks up where the original title left off. After returning to his home planet, Captain Olimar finds that his employer, Hocotate Freight, has gone bankrupt. His boss has sold off everything to pay off his whopping debt. Olimar has brought back a bottle cap for his son from the Pikmin's planet, and then discovers that it's worth a decent chunk of poko's. You see where this is going: Olimar is sent back to the Pikmin planet to collect artifacts that can then be sold in order to get Hocotate Freight back in the black.

The gameplay in that aspect is also very similar to the first, except that instead of collecting pieces of your spaceship you find and collect things like lip balm, oranges and other commonplace items that you can sell for poko's.

But this time Olimar doesn't have to brave the mysterious planet alone. He has a partner named Louie, a deliveryman from Hocotate Freight, whose load of carrots is stolen by a hungry space bunny and causes the company's bankruptcy. The addition of Louie adds a new and exciting feature to the gameplay of Pikmin 2. The players can use Louie & Olimar together, or seperate them into two teams, delegating the pikmin between them. This is useful for completeing some of the puzzles, pincer attacks on enemies, and in general when you want to be doing two things at once (collecting artifacts while also multiplying your pikmin, for example).

The Pikmin are still as adorable as before, looking vaugely like baby carrots with feet. Different colored pikmin still possess different weaknesses and strengths, but Pikmin 2 features two new colors of pikmin: purple and white. Pikmin of any other color can be thrown into purple or white flowers that are found in underground caves and are spit out the color of the flower. Purple pikmin are slow but strong: each of them counts as ten regular pikmin during battle or while carrying things. The white pikmin are generally weaker than others, but are immune to gas and can also dig; very useful for buried treasures. The red (immune to flame), yellow (can be thrown higher and are immune to electric shocks), and blue (can swim and crack rocks open) "wild" pikmin are back, and found in various areas of the planet.

Unlike the original game, there is no time limit to accomplish your goals in, however you must complete your tasks and collect your pikmin before nightfall or else the nocturnal animals of the planet will eat them. Collecting a small army of these various colored pikmin and then using their individual advantages and drawbacks to get your way to new places (and new treasures) is at the heart of this game.

Once you've completed half of story mode, a challenge mode is unlocked. The game sets up an underground cave scenario and provides you with a certain number of various colors of pikmin. From there you have two simple goals: collect as much treasure as you can and find the key which will let you proceed to the next level of the cave. This can be done with one or two players, but be careful! If you're too busy with treasure and enemies and let the time run out before you find the key, you're doomed.

Aside from story and challenge mode, there is also a two-player battle mode where you and a friend go head to head. To win, you either have to steal and collect your opponents colored marble, or find and collect four of your own color. If your pikmin collect a cherry, a roulette wheel spins that causes horrible things to happen to your opponent and the pikmin can even attack each other. When one of my roomates and I tried out battle mode, I lost horribly. He beat me in less than five minutes and despite my reputation for being competitive, I wasn't even mad because the whole thing was just too adorable. Even when the pikmin are tearing each other to shreds they're just so freaking cute!

Pikmin 2 kept me involved and enthusiastic for much longer than I originally expected. It's fun, challenging, and adorable, managing to stay fresh despite its sequel status. If you've been skeptical about this game (like I was) due to its release in the last part of the Gamecube's life, you might be pleasantly surprised by how much fun you have once you give it a chance.