Quizmaster: “What’s the word we’re looking for? It’s small, vegetable, and comes in red, yellow, purple, white and blue flavours.”
1st candidate: “XTC-tablets!”
Quizmaster: “Riiiiiight… I mean wrong”
2nd candidate: “Fruit-flavoured condoms?”
Quizmaster: “Wrong answer.”
3rd candidate: “Bubblegum?”
Quizmaster: “Jezus, you guys suck! It’s Pikmin of course!”
Those tiny lifeforms make their second appearance on Nintendo’s GameCube. In one of his many brilliant moments Shigeru Miyamoto -Shigsy for short- gave birth to these living plant bulbs and designed a game around them. The game topped the Cube-charts for many weeks and this even tempted The Big N (symbol of innovation) to produce a sequel.
Nonetheless, for Pikmin 2 they listened to the fans. The unpopular 30-day time limit is now only a painful memory. You can now frequent the Pikmin-planet (whoever played the first part will know that it is in fact our beloved Earth) as much as you like. Also, you don’t have to search for parts of your crashed spaceship anymore, just simple “treasures”. During your absence (Pikmin 1) the company you work for, Hocotate Freight, got financial problems. You (Captain Olimar) have to go back to the Pikmin-planet to look for valuable items, Indiana-Jones wise, to pay off the debts of your company, 10.000 pokos to be precise.
But this time, you’re not alone. Olimar gets help of Lowie. By pressing the X-button, you can easily shift leaders. The addition of this happy Lowie character has led to slightly more challenging puzzles and has also doubled the number of strategies. That’s because both Olimar and Lowie (seems awfully familiar to Mario and Luigi, doesn’t it ) can now control a flock of Pikmin, so you can divide your forces and battle on two different fronts.
You still collect the little muts by growing them in the so-called Onions. Besides the known red (fight well, are resistant to fire), yellow (can be thrown very high and aren’t harmed by electricity) and blue (waterproof) Pikmin, 2 new types were introduced, namely white and purple Pikmin. The white ones are small, highly toxic (if it gets eaten, it poisons its attacker), and can see buried treasures. Purple Pikmin are 10 times as heavy and 10 times as strong as the others, which makes them excellent for lifting heavy objects. Unfortunately you can’t produce the new types yourself, which means you’ll have to find them.
As mentioned, your mission consists of nothing else than locating treasures, which are automatically converted into money. A lot of these (mostly useless junk, such as lipstick, buttons, cans of coke…) can be found in underground dungeons. This wouldn’t be too bad, if there had been some noticable differences between them. Which brings us to the biggest flaw in this highly addictive game: there aren’t many things to do, which can be a drag sometimes. You always grow Pikmin, defeat monsters, collect useful artifacts and get the heck away from the planet before sunset and that’s it.
Like its predecessor, this game looks great. The levels are very colourful and well-designed. It just looks like you’re walking through your back yard. And even with groups of up to 100 Pikmin (the upper limit), not even the slightest form of slowdown can be noticed. Nicely done Shigsy!
When it comes to sound, some remarks can be made. As with many other GameCube-titles a very cheerful theme song was added. Fitting yes, but, truth be told, I’ve had it with those. When will Nintendo finally invest some hard cash in soundtracks, created by professionals? This ever repeating happy beat is really getting on my nerves. And another thing: every character once again speaks some Sims-like mumbly language, Ninty’s trademark… Voice actors? Dream on. When will we see some change in this? If Sony and Microsoft can hire great voice actors, why can’t they? Something I dó like about the audio are the many sounds your walking weeds make. They sometimes start singing like the Wiener Sängerknaben, albeit I don’t believe Pikmin are nutered…
Loved Pikmin? Pikmin 2 offers almost the same, with some very nice innovations that’ll keep you stuck to your telly for days on end. The new 2-player mode will probably offer even more fun-filled hours!
Never tried Pikmin before? Now’s your chance to buy or rent this game asap! Before you know it, you’re hooked to these little living flower seeds!