The 'Shroom:Issue XXXVI/Non-Marioverse Review
As we reviewed Pikmin in the past, this month we'll be reviewing Pikmin 2.
Few game sequels, especially these days, can live up to the original. No one really knows why, but they tend to lack the magic that made their predecessors so great in the first place. Pikmin 2 is not one of those sequels. Pikmin 2 is what other sequels should be.
Featuring an unlimited amount of time to play, a more strategic system, longer storyline and multiplayer modes, what's harder to think of is what Pikmin 2 doesn't have. It all starts when Olimar, after returning to his home planet Hocotate, hears the terrible news of his company going bankrupt when Louie, another space captain, claims "Space Bunnies" ate their prized stash of Pikpik Carrots, one of the main products of Hocotate Freight. While listening to the Presidents' woes, Olimar accidentally drops an old bottle cap -- a treasure he found on the Pikmin planet that he intended to give as a souvenir to his son. The ship tests its worth, and bang -- such a simple treasure is worth 100 Pokos, "more than a year's salary!" Determined that the Pikmin planet will get the company out of debt, Olimar is ordered to go with Louie to bring back more treasures.
Rather than collecting ship parts, the focus of this game is collecting treasures. What kinds of treasures, you ask? They vary from toys to jewelery to soda cans to batteries. They come in all shapes and sizes and have different worths that will, eventually, pull Hocotate Freight out of its massive debt. They are mainly found underground, in caves Olimar will travel through (and he'll usually have to put up a fight to obtain them). There are four main areas, based on different seasons, with at least one cave in each. Along with collecting treasures, Olimar's suit will also receive upgrades -- new capabilities, such as a stronger punch or a treasure-sensitive radar.
As for the enemies you encounter in this game, if you were frightened by some of the baddies in the first game, you'll be terrified of what Pikmin 2 has in store. Bosses, specifically the spider enemies, will appear right out of nowhere, potentially scaring you out of your skin, or crushing all your Pikmin before the fight even begins. There's a great variety, all of which have their own Olimar's Journal entry -- a great, overlooked feature where Olimar describes the enemies in scientific detail in his diary. Bring a full squad of Pikmin when you see a strange-looking creature, that's my advice.
Speaking of the Pikmin, the game has two new flavors, Purple and White. Burly purple Pikmin will crush enemies and can carry 10 times their own size, and white Pikmin will deactivate poisonous devices and can poison enemies when eaten.
I needn't spoil what happens, but there's also a great, unexpected twist in the game that reassures those who thought this game might also be too short. Pikmin 2 rarely loses its luster, though you have to be a very dedicated gamer to play.
The graphics are a slight improvement over the original, appearing less blurry and crisper, and the different scenes have some incredibly realistic rendering. The difficulty seems to be aimed at advanced players -- not experts, but those with a good grasp on the concept who can balance tasks out well enough to get those 100 Pikmin back in the pods before the day ends.
Pikmin 2 is superb, it raises the bar for sequels on every level. Most highly recommended.