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Pikmin 2 Package Art

Pikmin 2

Time and time again, Nintendo has proven themselves as the leading developers of family friendly software and entertainment. However, as gamers get older, and critics become more cynical, theyíve also been branded as a company that simply rehashes a handful of AAA titles to keep from sinking amongst their lack of third party developers. At the birth of the GameCube, Nintendo attempted to shake this myth with the conception of an innovative new franchise-- Pikmin. It was released with moderate critical acclaim, a small cult following, and a hefty list of design flaws. Now, two years later, does this next iteration of the series build upon past criticisms to establish a strong new Nintendo franchise? Or will it simply further illustrate Nintendoís image as a notorious franchise rehasher?


As with the first Pikmin, this title really shows off the graphical power of the GameCube by not only rendering beautifully organic 3D environments, but also in displaying hundreds of moveable objects amongst beautiful scenery with no signs of slowdown. Itís literally having your cake and eating it too! On top of the impressive visuals from a technical standpoint, the environments in Pikmin 2 are meticulously detailed and varied, from snowy landscapes to cherry blossom gardens. My only gripe would have to be in the subterranean areas of the game. Due to technical issues of having a randomly generated area, you can only expect the bare minimum by means of level design. While this did bring up some interesting new areas such as toy chests and caves, the end result was far less satisfying than exploring the beautifully crafted overworld.


Each new area in Pikmin 2 is accompanied by a fitting, yet subtle background track. The music itself is nothing memorable, but it gets the job done by pulling you into the specific environment. In most games, this would be considered the bare minimum. However, in a unique experience such as Pikmin 2, the focus is on the swarms of characters interacting with the environment, rather than the environment itself. By limiting background music to soft ambient tracks, the developers were able to shift the main focus on the nicely implemented sound effects. Doing this not only puts you in the appropriate mood for the world youíre exploring, but also allows the audio to flow nicely without sounding forced or cluttered.


At first glance, Pikmin 2 seems like a carbon copy of its predecessor. However, itís clear that Nintendo paid close attention to the criticisms the first title faced. The main issues with the original Pikmin were its restrictive time limit, lack of replay value, and overall short main scenario (roughly 5 hours in total). Iím glad to report that all of these issues have been completely eradicated from Pikmin 2, without tarnishing the plotline of the series. By eliminating the time limit, adding more and larger areas, and littering the world with nearly 5 times the originalís hidden treasure, Nintendo was able to not only lengthen the main scenarioís play time (now roughly 20 hours), but also make the player feel more comfortable with exploring the Pikmin universe without the time limit constantly looming over their heads. All this in addition to 2 new magnificently implemented types of pikmin definitely makes this sequel the prominent figure of the fresh new series. All in all, Iíd say Nintendo nearly perfected its new franchise with these minor tweaks. However, a newly added element sat sour with me upon completion.

In an attempt to add variety, strategy, and artificially lengthen gameplay, Pikmin 2 includes a new feature of subterranean exploration. In these areas, you must strategically choose your pikmin in order to delve deep within multi-tiered and randomly generated dungeons. As was my gripe with the visuals, the randomly generated areas simply lacked the polish and design of the over world. Itís like having a program that randomly generates sentences produce a book, then comparing the result to The Great Gatsby. Simply put, randomly generated dungeons should be left in the 80ís. The added replay simply canít match up to the effect achieved by a trained level designer. Iíd rather play a masterfully crafted area once than a soulless computer generated milieu twice.


Nintendo could have easily ignored multiplayer in this game all-together. But luckily for us, they included a welcome variety of co-op, versus, and challenge modes to lengthen gameplay. Youíll definitely be missing out on a major part of this titleís charm if you donít invite a few friends over to test out these cool little extras.


Minor gripes aside, Pikmin 2 has not only established the Pikmin franchise as a Nintendo powerhouse, but also helped clear the sequel-heavy misconception associated with the Nintendo brand at the launch of the GameCube. If anything, this title only makes me more anxious for the next iteration in the Pikmin series. Any self respecting GameCube owner should definitely give this title a whirl.

final score 9.0/10

Staff Avatar John Guesnier
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"Life without appreciation is a life not worth living."

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