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NPC Pikmin 2 Review

Technically since I'm only reviewing the New Play Control version released in the US last year, (never played Pikmin 2 on the GameCube, it's too expensive) this isn't an old game.  Oh yeah, the review.

The ending of the first Pikmin (well, depending on which ending you got) had Olimar returning to his home planet after repairing his ship with the help of native plant-like creatures he named Pikmin. Upon return, he finds out that in his absence Hocotate Freight has gone bankrupt. He returns to the planet of the Pikmin with an assistant, Louie, to find treasures to pay off their debt. So basically, the story is about enslaving the native species for profit. 

One major complaint about the original Pikmin was the time limit, which gave the player 30 days to find 30 ship parts. Pikmin 2 removes the time limit, which is the biggest factor in making the games feel so different; the first was more about micromanagement and planning how to use your time efficiently, the second is more laid back, encouraging you to go through the game as quickly or slowly as you like. Also, in Pikmin you bring up your map to show exactly where all the ship parts in that area were, and in Pikmin 2 you have what is essentially a metal detector, going off when you get closer to treasure which also contributes to the earlier mentioned difference. There's no better or worse, it's just a matter of opinion. I personally prefer the first, but I'd recommend starting on the second to anyone who's never played a Pikmin game.

There are two hundred and one treasures to be found, spread across five areas. You start out having access to one, but after finding half a globe you gain access to the second. In the second area you find another, making the third available. The fourth is unlocked upon collecting enough treasure to pay off the debt, and is home to the strongest bosses and most formidable challenges in the game. For instance, there's one room where you have to fight two of Pikmin 1's final boss at the same time.

When out in those areas, you have about 15 minutes in a day to search for treasures, breed Pikmin, etc. However, you'll spend much of your time searching for treasure inside 'caves', semi-randomly generated areas where you have no time limit and a finite number of pikmin. The last sublevel of these caves usually ends with a boss battle, so you're going to have to take good care of your Pikmin - no need to make the bosses any harder than they need to be.

Pikmin 2 introduces three new types of Pikmin in addition to the original three, Red Pikmin, Blue Pikmin, and Yellow Pikmin. Red Pikmin and Blue Pikmin retain their increased damage/fire resistance and ability to go in water respectively, and while yellow pikmin continue to be light, allowing them to be thrown higher and be more effective against airborne enemies, but lose the ability to carry bomb rocks in exchange for electricity resistance. They are all bred by having your Pikmin carry defeated creatures back to their onions, which then shoot out Pikmin seeds that you can pluck out.

Two of the new Pikmin types are gained not by that method, but by throwing Pikmin into plants in caves called candypop buds that then turn them into the pikmin type corresponding to the flowers color - purple or white. Purple pikmin when carrying objects equal the strength of of 10 other pikmin, have drasticallly increased attack power, and can stun enemies. White pikmin can dig up objects underground, are immune to poison, move very quickly, and poison enemies when eaten. The last Pikmin type, Bulbmin, can only be found and used in caves. A group of bulborbs will have sprouts growing on their heads, and killing the leader will cause the small ones to join you. They are immune to fire, water, electricity, and poison, and are left behind when you leave the cave.

The only balance issues are that purple pikmin are very overpowered, with a large force of purple pikmin you can stun almost any non-boss enemy and defeat it with ease, and that red pikmin are useless. Before the introduction of purple pikmin, red pikmin were used for combat, and fire resistance. Purples are vastly superior in combat, and the threat of fire has been nerfed. If a pikmin catches on fire, you can save it by calling it back to you. The geysers that shoot fire are destructable and stop every few seconds, so you can destroy them with any Pikmin type and remove the threat altogether. Even enemies coated in fire can be beaten without red pikmin, and more effectively at that.

Pikmin 2 has 66 different enemies, with less than 10 pallet swaps and 12 bosses. Almost all of the bosses and many standard enemies are quite formidable, and capable of killing dozens of pikmin in one attack if you aren't careful. Most of the enemies are very well designed, and the Water Wraith boss is especially memorable, but there are a few that exist for no reason other than to frustrate you, like flying enemies that drop bombs, or the blowhogs that can't even kill your pikmin but blow them down.

I want that T-Shirt.

An addition that Pikmin 2 made was giving you a second captain to control. While his AI is very basic and does nothing more than follow you or stay put, it lets you essentially be in two places at once, and can be used to round up your Pikmin more efficiently before sundown, among other things. I've also used the second captain to distract creatures while I, using the first captain, move in close and attack them with my Pikmin. Another new mechanic are the sprays. There are two types, gotten by having your Pikmin carry a specific type of berry back to your ship. One, the Ultra Bitter Spray, momentarily turns enemies to stone. The Super Spicy Spray increases the movement and attack speed of your pikmin.

The motion controls work great, you aim Pikmin with the pointer, throw with A, move with the Analog stick, and move the camera into different positions/zoom levels with left, right, and up on the D-Pad. You can divide your pikmin by color by pressing C, or while holding a Pikmin with A press B to choose a different color. With down on the D-Pad, you cause all your Pikmin to swarm in the direction of the enemy.

One complaint about the first Pikmin was that it was too short, lasting anywhere from one and a half hours to seven and half hours. Pikmin 2 lasts longer, even if you only aim to pay off the debt. The average time it takes to pay off the debt is about 14 hours, and if you aim to get all two hundred and one treasures it could very well last you into the 20-25 hour range. Player skill plays a large part in this though, as the first only took me 9 hours and the second 16 hours. But it's important to remember I've beaten the original Pikmin countless times, sometimes several times in one day, and the second one twice. 

There's also a competitive multiplayer mode, and a solo or co-op challenge mode unlocked a ways into the game. I can't say anything of the competitive multiplayer (but I will post this video) or co-op on account of not having anyone to play with, but the challenge mode is supposedly the same in solo or co-op. You're placed in a cave with a limited amount of time to get as much treasure as possible, and you also need to find the key so that you can move to the next sublevel before time runs out. Your goal is to get the highest possible score, with your score based off how few Pikmin you lose, how much treasure you collected, and how fast you went through the cave. There are 30 unique challenges, and you could easily spend several more hours playing through challenge mode.

In short, go buy the game. It's a superior and cheap port of an expensive classic, and the third game in the series should be coming out soon. If you have the slightest interest in Pikmin 3, a Wii, and $20, you should already have this game. Now that I've finished reviewing both Pikmin games, all that's left is to wait for the third.


My next review will be of Pandoras Tower, it should be up within one-two weeks of release depending on how long the game is. Don't forget to rate and comment.