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Pikmin 2 (GameCube)

Pikmin 2 starts off right where the original game ended. Captain Olimar returns to his home planet, but he's in for a rude surprise. His employer Hocotate Freight faces bankruptcy because a precious delivery of golden pikpik carrots got stolen by space bunnies. When it turns out that the souvenir Olimar brought from his journey is worth a lot of money, his boss immediately sends him back to the same planet, this time with his colleague Louie. Upon arrival, Olimar and Louie get split up which serves as a tutorial for the new teamwork. Both characters can control their own groups of Pikmin for improved multitasking. Additionally, many of the controls got refined to speed up processes and make them more convenient. If only the color selection of Pikmin to throw wasn't prone to errors because the little beings need some time to move in order behind their leader...

The biggest changes compared to the predecessor are the removal of the day limit and the shift of most of the gameplay towards the underground. The gameplay on the surface is still very similar with environmental puzzles and treasure to collect, but the vast majority of time is spent in caves that have a varying amount of floors and house all of the bosses. The major caveat? Supplies are heavily limited underground as you can't grow new Pikmin aside from very special exceptions. This means that Pikmin cease to be disposable and every "man" counts. Thankfully, each cave shows which kind of hazards you have to expect, so you can prepare with an appropriate color composition of your army. The new purple Pikmin are slow, heavy and strong, so they can stun enemies and each one counts as ten when carrying dead bodies or loot. The white Pikmin are not only resistant to poison, they are also poisonous themselves and therefore harmful to enemies who eat them.

The caves are graphically more varied than you'd expect and at times completely illogical in the environments you encounter. But lack of reason is preferable to a monotonous look, so it's okay. What's less acceptable is the built-in randomness of floors. Rooms and corridors do not have definite layouts and similarly the placement of the enemies isn't predetermined. Amount and type of enemies and treasure will always be the same, but their positions differ. This can lead to nightmarish situations towards the backend of Pikmin 2 as it seems the developers try to piss off the player as much as possible. It's here where it becomes apparent that you are dealing with lazy game design. There's an auto-save upon entering any given cave and completing any given floor, so if things go bad, there's always the option to reset the game and reload the save file. When the player is given such a powerful tool, it's common that developers do not bother with fairness or anything else respectable. So if you drop into a new floor and look at what's immediately ahead of you, it doesn't matter that a frog spawned so closely behind you that it squashes 20 Pikmin before you can react.

Make no mistake, Pikmin 2 is better than its predecessor because of numerous improvements, including a much longer campaign and a worthwhile challenge mode that tasks you with collecting as much treasure as possible within a time limit and with a limited amount of Pikmin. But when the final stretch of the story mode, especially the very last cave without reinforcements, throws so much bullshit at the player, then things are moving from challenging to frustrating and unfair. The final boss doesn't show a health bar, so it's hard to figure if anything you do is doing anything to him. Usually improvements on a scale like in Pikmin 2 would lead to a higher score, but the game ends on such a sour note that I don't think an 8 is justified.

Controls 10 Pikmin are now easier to get across bridges. Selecting the
color of Pikmin to throw can lead to unpleasant errors.
Gameplay   Purple and white Pikmin get added to the mix. Yellow ones
are now immune to electricity. Challenging caves.
Story   What humans consider trash is apparently treasure on the
planet Hocotate. Olimar and Louie clean up Earth.
Single-player   The time limit has been removed and the campaign's length
more than doubled. Some infuriating situations.
Multiplayer   The 30 levels of challenge mode can be played co-operatively.
Shared work makes time limits more manageable.
Graphics   Minor improvements over the first game. The horizontal
splitscreen in multiplayer is not ideal.
Sound   Much like the rest of Pikmin 2, refinement
over the predecessor is the theme of the game.
Value   More than 20 hours to complete the campaign,
plus a substantial challenge mode for one or two players.
Replay Value   Various high scores in both modes can be improved upon,
but nothing new in either mode.
Score 7 Whereas the first game benefited from originality, Pikmin 2
suffers from some plain unfair level design.

Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club