Nintendo has always been good at creating sequels, especially where the mighty Shigeru Miyamoto is involved, and Pikmin 2 is no exception. The first Pikmin title was praised for its typically Nintendo-esque innovation and original gameplay. Obviously, this sequel cant claim the same novelty value, but it is arguably superior to the original in every other way.
At the most basic level, the gameplay remains pretty much the same. If youre unfamiliar with the concept, it plays like an action RTS, as you group together your hordes of tiny floral aliens (Pikmin) and send them off on specialist collect/destroy missions around each level. Its a simplistic and obscure take on the genre, but with smooth, intuitive controls and addictive gameplay, its perhaps a richer experience than many more complicated RTS games out there.
Pikmin 2 does offer several gameplay enhancements over the first, though. Many fans of the original were disappointed by the games relatively short lifespan. This time around, however, the one player challenge is considerably more substantial. Various additions prolong the experience simply by providing more content within each level. Pikmin 2 boasts two new flavours of Pikmin: the new white ones are poisonous little fellas that will upset any predatory creature who chows down on it. As such, these chaps are also resistant to poison. There are also new purple Pikmin, the big-boys in the world of walking-flower thingies. These are the strength of 10 Pikmin and theyll smash up obstacles and barriers with consummate ease.
The most important change over the original is rooted in the storyline. Pikmin 2 sees the same main character, Captain Olimar, returning to the Pikmin planet in order to salvage various artefacts to sell back on his home planet. His unfortunate financial predicament is down to his employers, Hocotate Freight, which has gone bust and had to sell his spaceship. Olimar simply wants to buy it back. Hence in this return, Olimar is accompanied by his industrious apprentice, Louie: and this has to be the single biggest twist in Pikmin 2.
The addition of Louie effectively doubles the pace of the gameplay, at least in the later levels, and will require players to juggle their two Pikmin herdsmen accordingly. This is possible throughout the main game and also in the unlockable 30 level strong challenge where a second player can take charge of Louie. But best of all, Louies entrance on the scene has also justified a split-screen two player mode. This competitive addition is extremely welcome and makes Pikmin 2 something quite special.
So, what does the New Play Control version for the Wii bring to the mix? In case it's not painfully obvious, it's the intuitive motion-sensing control scheme of the Wii!
If you didnt like the first Pikmin, you wont like this. If you were neutral, you will now like it; and if you loved the first one, this is an entirely essential purchase. And if youve never played it before, nows definitely the time to try it.