Pikmin 2 (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 10.10.2004

Review for Pikmin 2 on GameCube

Shigeru Miyamoto has created some very unusual characters during his time at Nintendo, however his talents also extend to the invention of new, innovative gameplay scenarios. One of his most infamous of late has been that of Pikmin, a strange take of the Real-Time Strategy genre that he conceived out working in his garden. Whilst impressive beyond belief, many criticised the length of the first version. But now Pikmin 2 is here and is attempting to right the wrongs by being far, far more in-depth. Yet, is it really a case of 'bigger is better'? Find out...

The storyline picks up where the previous iteration's concludes. Therefore, after having crash-landed on the strange Pikmin-infested planet, befriending them and somehow convincing them to find the thirty vital components of his space craft, Captain Olimar returns to his home world only to find that matters have taken a turn for the severe worst. The planet's economic system has crashed and everything even remotely of value must be used as currency to keep his freight company in business. The long and short is that Olimar, along with his dopey-looking co-worker Louie, must travel back to where Olimar just escaped from and use the Pikmin there once more, only this time with the imperative aim of returning with many precious items!

Now, you could look at Pikmin 2 and go 'Hey, that looks exactly the same as the first one!' But then you would certainly be overlooking several vital aspects. First of all, the original was of an extremely high calibre for a first generation title, sporting crisp, colourful graphics and a frame-rate that many developers would maul someone for (yes, I am talking about the '100 Marios' engine); secondly there are some very impressive (by Nintendo standards anyway) cut-scenes littering the game; and thirdly there are no many more Pikmin available, all of which can be clambering about at once on-screen and still nothing ever slows down in the slightest, despite the additional background detail as well! Plus, the game's split-screen mode runs perfectly well ad certainly will not raise any complaints from gamers as the usual level of detail found in the planet's locales and inhabitants does not seem to dip below 'superbly tasty'. Now, do you still want to argue that Pikmin 2 is lacking in this department...?

Screenshot for Pikmin 2 on GameCube

The music aspect of Pikmin was never really one of the biggest talking points when it was released...well, to be honest, barely anybody ever mentioned it since whilst pleasant, the tunes hardly set the world of gaming alight. Unfortunately, the same can be said for Pikmin 2 as you will hardly notice the music playing in the background when controlling the large groups of flower folk in the more-calm-than-its-predecessor-yet-still-tense (*phew*) action of collecting items and defeating enemies. But, then again, this apparently negative point quickly U-turns into a beneficial addition to the state of play. In any case would you seriously want the usual bouncy Nintendo tunes that grace nearly all of its other products? Instead, the gentle, lilting melodies tied together with the nice little rousing calls Olimar and Louie use to call the Pikmin and the flower peoples' specific cries of happiness, fright and pain all ensure the perfect atmosphere is created all the way through. Deceptive and clever...

Screenshot for Pikmin 2 on GameCube

Look at the various screenshots dotted around this review and try to tell me exactly what Pikmin is all about. Got it yet? No, it is not just some strange gardening simulation devised by a drug-induced temporary staff member of Nintendo! It is, in fact, the brain-child of the Mario creator himself, Shigeru Miyamoto, ripping out the innards of the massively popular Eastern Asian delight StarCraft, simplifying it to almost entry-level extremes and then dousing it with heaps of magical sprinkles that are constantly associated with Nintendo products far and wide.

But there was a major restriction placed on those who played the first iteration that came out all the way back around the time of the European GameCube launch. You see, originally you were forced to complete everything within a set period of time, collecting various items of necessity before the completion of three straight 'in-game' days. Thankfully, though, this enforcement has been completely lifted and literally obliterated for the advent of this Pikmin sequel. However, let us quickly establish exactly how the game plays, since all you really know so far is that Real Time Strategy + flower people = crazy new game!

You begin as a little spaceman by the name of Olimar, landing on an unusual planet full of strange creatures and vegetation – however, of course, if you have played the first game none of this is too out of place. You begin with red Pikmin who can act as your 'troops', marching to the tune of your command, first of all bashing down plants with their heads, collecting tokens dropped and then carrying them back to a special pod near your ship that then flings out more Pikmin that you must wait and watch grow before plucking them from the ground, ready for action. And this is the basis of play; using Pikmin to do your dirty work, all the whiles expanding your army along the way. They can kill enemies, remove barricades and, very importantly, transport valuable items back to your ship.

Screenshot for Pikmin 2 on GameCube

But, hidden underneath the top layer of simplicity is a clever depth – the types of Pikmin you can 'recruit.' There are many more than the average, fire-resistant red flowers; the Pikmin range from waterproof blues, to the electrical yellows, heavy purples who are slow but can carry up to ten times that of the reds, and whites, who are immune to poisons or toxic gas and can even uncover secret items. Therefore, the strategy element is very high and ever-present when trying to navigate the multitude of areas, especially when on the levels where you must switch control between Olimar and Louie in order to open up sections or when you dive deep into the underground caves, risking many vital Pikmin to claim some of the game's most sought after treasure. Nintendo is the King of pacing games and drawing people in, and Pikmin 2 has lashings of the Kyoto company's goodness poured all over it…

The primary complaint aimed at the first Pikmin outing was the simple fact that due to its thirty day time limit, with each 'day' last only a few minutes, gamers were faced as such with a title that could be wrapped up in less than a week (as in seven Earth days…*ahem*). Thankfully, Nintendo's stance on 'short, but sweet' titles has changed considerably over the past two years and Pikmin 2 is further proof of that. The limitations have been lifted, there are more types of Pikmin to discover, and subsequently protect, and there are also special underground cave sections that will really test your resolve and RTS skills without you realising you are in fact playing Command & Conquer: Light Edition. On top of the extended single-player sections, Nintendo has treated us to a much welcomed two-player option, where you and a friend can either battle against each other over ten map layouts (in which item and enemy positions are randomised) or team-up and work through thirty special challenges. Playing through Pikmin 2 will make you wonder how Nintendo ever had the gall to release the original at a full price…

Screenshot for Pikmin 2 on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

With the first Pikmin proving to be so delightful at its core as to warrant its return, unchanged, still remaining as decidedly fresh as before is true testament to Miyamoto-san's creativity and vision. Then the fact that this sequel has come on so far in terms of options and length pushes Pikmin 2 into the 'classic' leagues, should definitely sell by the bucket-load and will most certainly peak us for the release of Pikmin 3 in the future!









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (57 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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