Pikmin 2 Review on GameCube
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Pikmin 2
by Nintendo
Reviewer: Louis Bedigian
Review Date: 09/20/2004
Pikmin 2 is not destined to become a classic – it already is one.

For nearly 10 years, Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Zelda, Mario and other Nintendo classics, did not reach beyond the boundaries of innovative sequels.  He stuck with characters and game worlds that worked.  He added to the gameplay, redefining it in many cases, but Zelda was still Zelda.  Mario was still Mario.  We loved and cherished them, but was that the end of his legacy?  Would he retire from the gaming world without ever creating another entirely new masterpiece?

In May of 2001, Nintendo unveiled Miyamoto's newest creation, a game that didn't star Zelda, Mario, Donkey Kong or any other familiar face.  Titled Pikmin, many thought it might be the next-generation answer to Pokemon.  Once we actually got to see the game in action, our hopes turned into question marks, wondering if Pikmin could be the masterpiece Miyamoto is capable of developing it.

Five months later I explored Miyamoto's world for the first time at Nintendo's Cube Club event.  My love for the game hasn't dwindled since.

Pikmin – a game about small plant-like creatures (they're like ants but with more personality), is more than real-time strategy.  It's more than solving puzzles, and is much more than defeating enemies.  Everything seemed so peaceful regardless of what was going on in the world.  It was strange to enjoy a game that didn't involve car jacking, magic spells, or modern-day weaponry.

Now that Pikmin 2 is finally here, I can stop playing the original (momentarily – I'll never stop playing it completely) and focus my attention on the sequel.

Playing extensively and almost obsessively for the first day, it was easy to see that Pikmin 2 is bigger, longer, and several times more challenging than the original.  Contrary to reports, Pikmin 2 is still timed.  The key to making it last longer was finding a way to keep gamers occupied while the clock is stopped.  Nintendo did this by creating several brand-new underground cave areas.  They aren't really caves; some are reminiscent of a bathroom, others are designed like a sewer.  My favorite cave looks like a birdhouse.  It's not obvious that that's what it is at first, but once you expand the camera and take a look around, the subtle design becomes clear.

Nintendo decided to go back to their roots with this one by abolishing the player with tons of difficult enemies.  Most of the caves will drive you mad.  They are much more challenging and require much more planning than any of the above ground battles.  You won't be able to put the game down though.  You'll scream at the TV, look at the clock (which reads 5am), roll your eyes and cross your fingers.  You'll hope that you can beat the cave on this next try, collect all the items, save the game and go to sleep.  In your heart you know this is it.

When you lose for the third time in a row, clinch your fists to prevent from screaming.

There is hope for you and your plant-like friends.  Two new sprays, Ultra-Bitter Spray and Ultra-Spicy Spray, give Olimar and Louie the power to power-up the Pikmin or petrify their enemies.  These sprays are created by collecting 10 berries or by drinking a drop of the berries' nectar.

Within the caves – and hidden throughout the main worlds – are lost pieces of real-world items.  Duracell batteries, Skippy peanut butter and 7up bottle caps are just a few of the dozens of licensed items you will find in the game.  I loved discovering them for the first time.  It made the game feel like it was set in a real backyard (which was Miyamoto's intent).

In the first game you'd collect items to repair your ship.  In Pikmin 2 you collect items to pay off a debt that Olimar's boss has incurred.  You can do this long before the game is fully complete, which begs the question: what else is there to do after the debt has been paid off?  Think back to Mario 64.  It only took 70 stars to beat the game, but you could continue playing and collect another 50 stars.

Olimar's Pikmin aren't the only things keeping him company this time around.  His assistant, Louie, has jumped on board his spaceship and is ready to help him whenever necessary.  This opened the door for a two-player cooperative mode and all-new strategic elements for single-player games.  Have Olimar take 50 blue Pikmin to one area and have Louie take 30 purple Pikmin to another.  Use the two characters to beat bosses, unlock hidden areas and acquire new items.

Wait...did I just say purple Pikmin?  Your ears did not deceive you.  Pikmin 2 gives birth to two new Pikmin: white and purple.  White Pikmin are smaller and slightly faster.  Their main strength is poison.  They're resistant to poison, enabling them to take down poison gas dispensers.  Should an enemy choose to eat a white Pikmin, he'll need more than Ex-Lax to help him through the night.  Poison gas will be unleashed, nearly killing the enemy.

Purple Pikmin are thicker, heavier, and 10 time stronger than other Pikmin.  Their combat abilities are excellent: throw several on top of most bugs and watch them crumble.

The new Pikmin are integral to your success, so acquiring them isn't easy.  The only way to get them is by finding a white or purple flower.  Throw five Pikmin into the flower and it'll disappear, sprouting Pikmin of the flower's color.

As my first act, I will create a grand army of the Republic to counter the increasing threats of the separatist.

Pikmin 2 is not destined to become a classic – it already is one.  This is unquestionably one of the top 5 GameCube games.  I'm not just talking Nintendo-made GameCube games, but all GameCube games.  It's everything I wanted from the sequel.  Its length far surpassed my expectations.  I never expected to be sitting in front of the TV for several nights in a row, struggling to finish the game as quickly as possible.  Not because I wanted it to be over, but because I couldn't wait to experience every moment.

Review Scoring Details for Pikmin 2

Gameplay: 9.6
Real-time strategic puzzling at its finest.  Pikmin 2 builds on the original in ways you'd never expect.  The new Pikmin, new game worlds, the many surprises that await – it's the way a Nintendo sequel should be.

There's an awesome twist that occurs with one of the original game's most common foes.  He's been revised a little in the sequel.  You'll see many variations of him, including one with a leaf growing out of his back.  Can you guess what significance that has?

The hardcore battles will win over anyone who thought the first game was too easy.  Wait till you fight the boss who's constantly giving birth (creating more enemies to fight).  You'll get the chance to face off with the first game's final boss on more than one occasion.  And near the end you'll encounter an enemy who cannot be attacked...at first.

Graphics: 9
Bright, colorful and highly detailed, Pikmin 2 is a stunning game.  The water is no longer reflective, and the background textures don't have the same realistic polish of the first game, but overall this is a very beautiful game.

Sound: 8
More chaotic than the first game's soundtrack.  Less peaceful, but just as epic.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard

Concept: 9
Brilliant new features and tons of time-consuming, highly entertaining areas to explore.

Multiplayer: 9
Go head-to-head or vs. the computer in Pikmin 2’s extensive multiplayer features.  Offline and split-screen only.

Overall: 9.4
The return of the king.  When no other game screamed, "Buy a GameCube!" Pikmin 2 came out of nowhere and made us revise our assessment of the new console.  Since that time GameCube has had many must-have hits, but only one continues to spin in my console for hours on end: Pikmin.  I'm looking forward to several great years with the sequel.

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