Platforms: GameCube, Wii
Release Date: 2004 (GameCube), 2009, 2012 (Wii)
Just as the game’s titular Pikmin creatures are so cute as to belie their formidable capabilities, there is certainly more to Pikmin 2 than its quirky exterior suggests. Pikmin 2’s engaging action and high level of polish makes the game an exceptional adventure definitely worth experiencing. Luckily, it should not be too hard to find a copy of Pikmin 2 currently, as the game was recently rereleased on the Wii. This new Wii version of the game features motion controls and enhanced graphics, but leaves the gameplay virtually unaltered.
The premise of Pikmin 2 is that after the events of the first Pikmin game, the plucky Captain Olimar returns to his home planet to discover that the shipping company he works for, Hocotate Freight, is burdened by a large amount of debt. Olimar’s boss sends both Olimar and another employee named Louie to the Pikmin Planet to recover treasures that will be used to pay off the debt with the help of the native Pikmin.
Pikmin 2 is an interesting hybrid of video game genres. The majority of the game’s action is strategy-oriented, as Olimar spends most of the game controlling the plant-like Pikmin, ordering them to gather resources to create more Pikmin, fight hostile life forms, and secure treasures. Unlike most strategy games, the player controls the Pikmin with an avatar who can move, attack, and be attacked rather than a cursor, giving Pikmin 2 an action-adventure quality. Finally, Pikmin 2 has some puzzle elements, as Olimar often must use specific Pikmin types to defeat certain enemies or remove specific natural hazards to allow other Pikmin to safely operate in an area.
The joy in the gameplay lies in efficiently controlling the Pikmin. Since the player has control of two avatars, Olimar and Louie, it is possible to multi-task. For example, Olimar can lead a large squad of Pikmin to clear an area of enemies while Louie can be elsewhere overseeing a smaller group of Pikmin tear down a wall blocking an area that can then be explored later. Another fun aspect of Pikmin 2 is managing the Pikmin themselves. The game’s five types of Pikmin each have their own strengths and abilities, making assembling a balanced Pikmin squad vital to success. Due to violent wildlife and natural hazards, the Pikmin population suffers fatalities during the course of the game and maintaining the Pikmin population becomes a challenge in and of itself.
The world of Pikmin 2 is very detailed, making it feel like a real place rather than just a collection of levels for Olimar to run around in. The game’s four distinct regions host many colorful and creative plants and animals that are entered into an in-game database called the Piklopedia upon being encountered. The Piklopedia really makes the planet’s organisms feel like actual creatures, detailing aspects such as names and habits of each creature. Other little details such as falling snow and leaves, and how plant stems get pushed aside as Olimar’s Pikmin run through them helps create a real sense of liveliness and movement. Pikmin 2 also has a particularly good soundtrack. The music has a very mysterious, spacey tone that really drives home the alien sense that the world provides. All these elements make the world of Pikmin 2 quite interesting to explore.
Unsurprisingly, Pikmin 2’s primary problem is its controls. As is typically the case with strategy games released on consoles, the unwieldiness of a control scheme mapped for a controller is keenly felt. The problems with the control scheme are most apparent during combat. The player can move the Pikmin either by throwing them a short distance one at a time, or ordering all of them to move en mass in a given direction, which is somewhat limiting. While the ability to assign separate Pikmin squads to Olimar and Louie is essentially hotkeying, the player can only actively control one avatar at a time, while the unselected avatar and his squad stand inert. This means that simple tactics such as flanking and pincer attacks are impossible. As such, the only viable tactic is to either sneak up on or quickly run up to enemies and overwhelm them with Pikmin, making combat quite shallow.
The most glaring omission in Pikmin 2 is the lack of a cooperative campaign mode. With the addition of Louie and emphasis on multitasking he brings, it seems obvious that Pikmin 2 would be perfect for cooperative play. However, for whatever reason, the campaign mode is single-player only. Multiplayer does exist in Pikmin 2, but it is found only in a two-player battle mode and in an unlockable challenge mode. These extra game modes do not feel tacked on, but they fall short because they focus on the weakest aspect of Pikmin 2, combat. While the extra modes are not exactly in the spirit of Pikmin 2, battle mode can certainly be entertaining in a chaotic way and challenge mode provides some interesting trials for the player to complete after finishing the campaign mode.
|Final Score||“A Great Nintendo Classic”||8|
Pikmin 2 has a great cartoony style that stands the test of time.
Pikmin 2’s engaging gameplay formula is thankfully not totally ruined by the game’s lackluster controls.
The main game is a little too short, and the extra modes, while fun, are a poor substitute for a cooperative campaign.
Trance-like audio that really creates a sense of mystery in Olimar’s adventure.
Review by Jack Jacobs
Jack Jacobs is a college student from Richmond, VA who styles himself a freelance writer partially because the term “free-lance” originally described a medieval mercenary soldier. While Jack has owned a number of different video game platforms, he is most fond of Nintendo’s little box with the carry handle, the GameCube. If on the off chance you’d like to recruit Jack and his free lance (lance meaning word processor, not battle implement) E-mail him at Jack6894@aol.com. All Articles by Jack.