Pikmin 2 GameCube Review

I believe the original Pikmin was a launch title for the GameCube? At the time of writing this I can’t remember exactly when it was released but one thing I do remember was the fun and excitement I had when playing it, it gave a certain thrill that no other game had at that time. I think I purchased Luigi’s Mansion and Super Monkey Ball on the same day but little did I know that the game with the stupid name (as a friend of mine cruelly labeled it) would make the others sit on the shelf and gather dust. In my eyes the first Pikmin was a classic, as I played it and in time finished it there was one word that stayed in my head and that word was perfection. I thought that there was noting else that could make this game any better and that thought stayed in my head for about 2 years until it finally departed last Thursday at around 5:00pm. Why did it depart you may ask? I had just loaded up Pikmin 2!

Graphics

If you thought the first game looked fantastic you might faint when you see this one! It is beautiful, everything looks fantastic, from the enemy designs to Olimar and Louie to the Pikmin themselves. The whole game look exceptionally eye-catching and insanely well polished. I do have a slight few niggles about some of the graphics though.

Although almost all of the game has got a graphical lift and polygon-boost, some places have remained the same. A prime example of this would be the water, it looked fantastic when I saw it first in the original and I believe it even rivalled the water of Wave Race Blue Storm. But now a few years later the exact same water has been used in a sequel. Technologly has moved on and it does not look as impressive anymore. Other small graphic nuisances would be some of the foliage and grass are not what they would be, I believe a bit more development time could have changed this but gladly it is not an aspect which takes away any of the enjoyment of them game, but it is a little starch on a polished surface, if you know what I mean.

Gameplay

Well to start the review I better start at the beginning of the game: the loading screen, yes the loading screen! It begins with the trademark Nintendo logo coming up with a Pikmin hanging off it then one of the new Pikmin come in and knock him off the logo, this small instance is very well animated and I loved it, which brings us on to the title screen which is even better. The title screens, yes screens, there are a few different ones, are fantastically animated and are almost photo realistic. The animation and direction of them just astounded me. I had not even started the game by this time and just after seeing the load screen and start screen I already loved it!

It may seem weird to you for me to talk about these things first but I believe it is little touches like these that set the scene for a game, they won’t make or break the game but it does make an impression before you start playing and Pikmin 2 does a great job of getting you excited, ready and eager before play begins.

Then I started playing the game…

The layout of the game resembles its predecessor but there are a few changes, some you would expect, others which you may not. Instead of those ship parts from the original you now collect treasures/valuables which are scattered over 4 LARGE areas within the game. These 4 LARGE areas also contain LARGE randomly generated dungeons, some which range in size for 4- 15 floors. Many of these dungeons can take over a hour to finish and are sure to cause a few cases of broken controllers as you cannot grow new Pikmin once you enter them and some of them are very hard, but never unfairly hard.

Some enemies return for a second showing in this game but many new enemies make a debut. Some are hybrids of previous enemies and some are completely new. I have decided not to name any more off the new enemies ’cause experiencing them for the first time without knowing what is going to happen is much better than just reading words of a screen. But I can guarantee one thing, look forward to better more exciting enemies and they will appear from places you would not expect. One last thing I will say though, the new bosses are inspired!

The valuables you collect give you money, like I said the valuables are the replacements for ship parts, you must bring these back to your ship to get money for them. There are also more ways of locating them than before. Instead of just wandering aimlessly like before you can now use a gauge meter which is used in conjunction with the white Pikmin. You can now find treasures hidden underground using this method and you will have to dig them up with your Pikmin to continue.

Speaking of the white Pikmin, these are only one of the new additions to the game. The other new Pikmin are purple, this special brand of Pikmin cannot be attained like you would normal run of the mill Pikmin. To get these you must throw one of the normal Pikmin into special flowers which transform your Pikmin into the color displayed on the flower. However each flower will only allow you to transform 5 Pikmin before it dies, so it will be difficult to amass an army of these “Super Pikmin” Why do I call them super Pikmin you may ask? Well, the white Pikmin are super fast, invulnerable to poison and will poison enemies if they eat one of them. The purple Pikmin resemble sumo wrestlers and are strong fighters and have the strength of ten normal Pikmin, so carrying treasures gets much easier if you amass a few of them. Yellow Pikmin now have complete different abilities than previously, they’re now invulnerable to electricity and thus can barge through electric fences without a second thought and attack electric enemies to good effect. This change is welcome for me as if you think back to the previous title the yellow Pikmin felt different to the others and rock bombs throwing was the one of the more exciting things to do. One last addition I must mention is that the group of Pikmin now cries if you take a great loss in a battle with one of the enemies. This is a welcome addition from Nintendo as it adds to those little guys personalities.

Lastly I will give mention to the new addition of the 2-Player Mode. In this game one player gets red Pikmin, the other gets blue, but they are natural they don’t posses the abilities they normally do in the one player game. Each player has one onion to bring their hordes back to and this is where the fun begins. You both win the game by collecting 4 yellow marbles or taking the other player marble in a sort off capture the flag style and bringing them back to your onion. To stop this from happening you use you Pikmin (up to 100) to fight their Pikmin, so there is a possibility off a 200 Pikmin war waiting to happen at any given moment. This alone gives the 2 player mode a big thumbs up in my opinion but there is so much more included than just the fighting aspect. Each gamer will probably develop their own style in this mode and two experts playing should make for an exciting match. There are also many other items included around the level for you to pick up, from rock to throw and cherries to level up. The two player mode is an exciting, very well developed mode that is a fanatic accomplishment for Nintendo. Infact the whole game is a testament to what they can do when they are at their best.

Sound

Ok, well first I better talk about the music, it seems to bring back memories of the previous title. It has an adventurous yet epic feel to it that seems to fit the game perfectly. I think some of the music has been re-sampled, re-edited and re-mixed to make it fit the new game better: that’s not to say it is just a re-hash of music in the previous title, infact it is far from that. The small changes in some songs are top-notch. There is a lot of new music incorporated into the game as well which is equal or even better in some cases than the previous score. Overall the music is fantastic, it suits the game well and does not overshadow the action with an over epic feel.

Now on to the sounds effects which I must say I was pleasantly surprised with. I personally never thought little touches with a few added sound effects could make such a difference in a game. That was, until I played Pikmin 2! There is so much added extra ambient noise in all of the level it is unbelievable, there always seems to be a noise happening in the background whether it be a bird tweeting, or insects doing whatever noise insects do.

But now on to what has to be my favorite sound extra! The Pikmin sing behind you as you walk!! The better you play in the game the louder and happier the Pikmin sing. This is a fantastic addition, it not only adds to the game but it all adds to the characteristics of the Pikmin, they seem more alive now. There always seems to be something happening in the game, it is alive with sound and music!

Lifespan

If you enjoyed the previous title then Pikmin 2 should last you a good few weeks or maybe even months, the one-player mode could be finished in 25 hours but the challenge mode and two player mode is where the longevity lies. The two player mode can get very addictive and you and your mates could end up playing it every time they come round to you house. Then there is always the choice of returning to the one player game to better your score from the last run through. Pikmin 2 will last as long as your interest in the game lasts and the game will try and hold you attention for a very long time.

Overall

Pikmin 2 is not only an extremely good sequel but it is also an extremely well made game. It is a welcome sequel that makes the Pikmin franchise even stronger. It is a sequel that lives up to and possibly even exceeds the hype. And just think, this fantastic game was dreamt up in one mans head as he sat in his garden one day, what a simple idea that transformed into possibly one of the greatest next gen franchises. It really does justice to that old phrase “Great oaks from little acorns grow”, fantastic!

9 out of 10
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