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Our family first played Pikmin 2 shortly after its release in 2004, on the GameCube. It's a fun, light hearted, but sometimes devilishly hard strategy game. We'd played the original Pikmin too, and everyone said that Pikmin 2 was one of those sequels that really improves on a game, and it was - more on that later. However, as usual, the game got traded in for something else that someone wanted more, as we're always on a budget here!
So, having heard rumours of Pikmin 3, I was ready to get back into the Pikmin world again, so very pleased to see Nintendo re-releasing Pikmin 2 with the new Play Control series. I think the Pikmin games, until now, are probably under-rated, games that passed under the radar somewhat. I'm always surprised that many people haven't even heard of them! Simply because a game looks cute and kiddie on the outside does not make it easy to play or one that a gamer should overlook.
The basic premise of Pikmin 2 is that you, as either Captain Olimar or his sidekick Louie, are on a mission to collect funds for your company back home. To do this you re-visit the Pikmin planet, and to help you, you control an army of little helpers called Pikmin. These are small plant like creatures who grow by sprouting in the ground. There are various types of Pikmin who each have different strengths and weaknesses, and this is the main point of strategy. You can only take a set number of Pikmin with you each day so you must choose wisely - do you want the strong purple Pikmin, or will the white poison-resistant Pikmin be a better choice? In the first game you only played as Olimar; this time with Louie alongside you can control different bands of Pikmin and switch between the leaders, making it much easier to complete tasks when things get busy.
I played it with my older daughter five years ago and loved it, and I'm playing it again with my younger children now - and they are loving it as well.
Play is divided up into days with a save occurring at sundown, and each day you can explore one level above ground. There are strange creatures to fight, treasure to collect, and underground caves to discover. Time stands still while you are underground, though. In the original Pikmin game you were also limited by time, as you had to complete your mission within a certain number of days. I always used to fail at this! Thankfully in Pikmin 2 the time limit has been lifted, so while serious gamers may want to beat the game in the least number of days possible, the rest of us can take our time working on it!
You can keep track of your finds in your Piklopedia - this contains information on all treasure that you've found, the creatures that you meet, and other interesting items. You can even interact with the creatures in this section by throwing food to them! The notes in this catalogue really are quite amusing, and show the attention to detail that is typical in a true Nintendo classic. The first game had a limited number of items to find; in Pikmin 2 there are some 200 treasures to be unearthed.
Pikmin 2 also introduced the Challenge and Battle modes. In Challenge mode, which is unlocked via the one player game, you are given a pre-set Pikmin army and a certain task to complete in a certain time, so this does test your precision and you can choose competitive or co-operative two player action here. Once you've completed a cave without losing any Pikmin you earn 'Perfect' status for that area.
In Battle mode, available from the beginning of the game, you race to move marbles to your ship using your Pikmin to help. These are both nice added extras in the game although our family far preferred the usual Story mode.
If I'm totally honest, having picked up and played the Wii version of this game, I really can't remember what the GameCube controls were like! What I can say, however, is that it has been very easy to play with the remote, I haven't noticed any difficulties, so therefore I must conclude that it's an excellent, seamless port from GameCube to Wii.
Apart from the controls, the game hasn't changed at all. Having said that, the graphics must have been excellent in their day, as they really don't look dated in any way - if I didn't know that the game was actually five years old I wouldn't have a clue from just looking at the screen today!
As a parent I'm happy because I know the game is family friendly - there are very few RPG strategy games out there that I would let a child play without worrying about blood and gore around every corner.
This game totally stands up to the test of time. I played it with my older daughter five years ago and loved it, and I'm playing it again with my younger children now - and they are loving it as well. My son is excitedly running to tell me every time he gets a new kind of Pikmin or discovers a new area in the game, and totally immersed in thinking through each level - this is what gaming should be about! As a parent I'm happy because I know the game is family friendly - there are very few RPG strategy games out there that I would let a child play without worrying about blood and gore around every corner.
If you played Pikmin 2 in its GameCube incarnation there is nothing new to see, really - unless, like me, you'd enjoy re-discovering it before the release of Pikmin 3. However, if you have never had the Pikmin Experience then this game comes highly recommended, you won't regret having it as a valuable addition to your Wii games collection.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: