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Background Pikmin was originally released on the Nintendo GameCube and due to its great popularity it was released on the Wii also with wii control as was the sequel which has many more features than the first. Pikmin themselves are little alien characters that if existed in real life would be around the size of your thumb or smaller. The plot goes something like this: when captain Olimar the protagonist of the story is delivering his cargo from planet to planet he accidentally crashes on an alien planet, much to his grief the ship is beyond repair and is swarming with giant bugs, insects, frogs and general nasty beasties which want him for their dinner. However luck is with him as in his search for new materials to repair his ship he comes across some organic spaceships shaped like onions on tripods the residents of these ships seem more than happy to help him out in his quest, these are the pikmin. The pikmin seem to mistake Olimar's space helmet light for beacon and follow him wherever he goes even into the lairs of giant bird snakes or fire breathing ant eaters. As predicted if you beat the game you fly home to your family safe and sound leaving the pikmin to fend for themselves. In the second game however as you return home you find out that without your help your freight company has gone under and your boss sends you back to the planet with his gormless son Louie to gather valuable artefacts and species to sell to pay off the company's debt. Pikmin Colour system In the first game there were three varieties of pikmin each with their own strengths and weaknesses, in the second game the variety you can befriend increases to five. Yellow Pikmin- These pikmin have large ears can withstand electrocution and are generally a good bit lighter than the rest, when you through them in the air they go higher and further which can be handy for finding treasures in high hard to reach places. Blue Pikmin-These pikmin look like they have little smiling mouths, these act as gills so when you enter water these pikmin wont drown, all the other pikmin can drown in water. Red Pikmin-These pikmin have a little pointy nose and these have to be my favourite for their visual appearance, they are also immune to fire. New Purple Pikmin-The sumo wrestler pikmin, they can carry the same weight as 10 pikmin, they are three times the size of a regular pikmin and are quite rare, you can only get these pikmin by throwing pikmin of the 3 original colours into a purple flower, they have little whiskers too and are super heavy. New WhitePikmin-The poison pikmin, their featuring characteristic is that they are half the size of a regular pikmin, have red eyes and if eaten can kill most enemies immediately, they come in very hand if there is a really tough boss who likes to eat everything in sight. They are also professional treasure hunters and can see things other pikmin cannot. Though again they are a little rare, they can only be bred by throwing red, blue or yellow pikmin into a white flower. Game play The game runs a little like command and conquer you attack giant bugs and beasties directly with your pikmin, pikmin beat enemies to death with the stems coming out of their heads, the more developed their flower the faster and tougher they are. You have two commanders in the second game so you can separate your fleet out into two sections across the map and go back and forth between then to accomplish different tasks and find different treasure. You will need to master tis system to complete the game. It is pretty simple in its objectives though the maps and beasts get tougher and more difficult to defeat as you carry on through the game. The controls are pretty simple to get a hang of rather quickly, though the wii sensory bar messes up sometimes and results in unnecessary deaths which has annoyed me a little and has made me swear at the TV in the past. The sequel has a longer life than the original in that as soon as you think you have gathered all the treasure you head home to find that you have left Louie alone on the alien planet and have to head back with the boss to find him before he gets eaten. Overall I think it's a really fun game, the visuals are spectacular, you can really believe sometimes that you have landed on a real planet similar to earth but like Gulliver's travels you are tiny and there are no humans that can find you because you are too small but their food and jewels are still lying about everywhere for you to take. The music and animal sounds are amazing; the animal sounds are very realistic and appropriate, the pikmin even make little happy and sad sounds depending on where you are and what you are doing. The music is largely relaxing and ambient and suits the natural environments perfectly! I would love to get the official soundtrack of this as it is so brilliantly orchestrated. Extras Unlike the original you can play this game in a two player mode as well as a challenge mode once you get so far in the main game which adds lots of extra hours of game play which I really enjoyed. There was so much effort put into this game that I hope there is a sequel as it has to be one of my favourite yet lesser known game franchises, even the opening of the game changes through four different seasons and have different beasties moving about through them. I may have forgotten to mention that each map represents a season also and the colours are glorious! A must play for anyone who was fascinated by insects as a child.
I adored the first Pikmin game but had been unsuccessful in finding a copy of Pikmin 2 so I was thrilled when I heard this was going to arrive on the wii. They also rereleased the first game with the new play control system (which basically means you use the wiimote and nunchuck.) I cannot review this game compared to the gamecube game I can simply explain the hours of fun I have had playing this. The storyline of the game follows on from the first which to recap centres around captain olimar an alien from the planet hocotate crashlanding on the home planet of the pikmin. The captains mission is to rebuild his ship before his life support systems fail. The parts of the ship are scattered across the planet and it is your job- aided by pikmin to find these parts and return them to the ship. Captain Olimar returns home to his beloved planet at the start of the second game to find the planet has been hit by a crippling debt and the company he works for has gone under. When a 'souvenir' from the captains travels, rolls out from his rebuilt ship, it is collected by a debt collecting robot ship and discovered to be worth a fortune. Olimar's boss the manager of the bust company decides to send Olimar back to find more treasure and clear the debt. The game can be played as a 2 player game and this co-op element can make it much easier than the first to set 2 groups of pikmin on one task. The first game was basically 5 simple levels with various challenges needing to be completed to finish the game in the time limit. The second is different to this and far bigger, as a result there is no time limit. It differs as this time the levels have sublevels where most of the treasures are hidden. The character list is significantly bigger, all of the bosses and little bosses as I call them are back, but there are also a range of new ones to fend off. You can play as Olimar, Louie or the President depending on which stage of the game you are at. There are also 2 new types of pikmin purple ones which can carry 10 times as much as regular pikmin and white pikmin which are poisonous to the bosses and can destroy poison pumps (similar to fire pumps.) A day takes about 30 minutes to complete but on the second a day is extended when you enter a cave. The game gives you as much chance as you need to explore that cave. You use the nunchuck to control the directions your characters move in and the wiimote to control the actions of your pikmin. Its great to have a game on the wii which uses both the controllers and is so much fun. Wii games that aren't in the party vein are a rarity in themselves and this is a great game which makes owning a wii worthwhile. Nintendo announced a third and I can't wait to try it out. I have replayed these games so much setting myself new challenges each time. Such as collecting more pikmin etc. The game is currently available for a little more than £20- which you could use your next dooyoo voucher for and I'm certain you wouldn't be disappointed. If you like strategy games this game is definitely for you as you can grow the amount of pikmin you have in order to have enough to find treasures and return them to the ship safely. You have a limit of 100 pikmin to take into the caves or have out of their ships (named onions) at any time- which against some bosses can be really tough. There is a lot to explore. If you haven't played the first one yet either I suggest asking for both this christmas, you will get hours of fun out of both. Oh and its worth mentioning that the pikmin are totally adorable.
I have a lot of time for Nintendo's Pikmin games. Originally released for the Gamecube, exposure was limited to the smaller audience of the console and so Nintendo have taken the very wise decision of rereleasing them as ports for the Wii. Given the huge sales figures of the Wii and the essential similarities between the internal workings of the Gamecube and Wii, I'm surprised Nintendo haven't been working on porting their entire back catalogue of excellent Gamecube games and making a killing on cheap, high quality titles for a console that sorely needs them. As it is, New Play Control: Pikmin 2 is one of small range of ports that consists mainly of old Mario titles and the Metroid Prime series. Still, it is here so how does it hold up? Firstly, Pikmin 2 is a joy to own on the Wii for so many reasons. It is a Nintendo first party title and has been developed with all the love and attention of the Marios, Metroids and Zeldas but forges new ground with an entirely new concept. The series follows Olimar, an alien astronaut the height of a fifty pence piece, as he explores the wilderness of Earth from his tiny perspective. There's a real back garden feel to the world here; bugs, twigs and flowers are your obstacles and your rewards as you hunt down treasures, valuable artefacts left by human society. Watching a tiny spaceman going on a treasure hunt for giant AA Batteries and bottle caps is a joy in itself but the main conceit of the game is the Pikmin themselves. Helping Captain Olimar on his journey are a collective of teeny little plant people. Little sprouts, grown from seeds that run around in huge numbers with little daisies bobbing out of their heads. These little soldiers imprint upon Olimar and are his to command, using them shift giant objects, defeat monsters and retrieve heavy treasures, you will slowly but surely make your fortune in the wilderness of Earth's shrubbery and eventually return home. If all this sounds like an odd set up, it is. In the most wonderful possible way it is an ideal synergy of solid and dependable core gameplay and bizarre, quirky ideas that make this game a classic. The size of the world is enormous and with caverns, ponds and deserts to explore within this tiny ecosystem, there are endless discoveries hiding in Pikmin 2. Unlike the first game which operated on a time limit, this iteration can be enjoyed as slowly or as briskly as you please, time passes and you must always send your Pikmin home for the night but there is always another day to get your treasure back home. Unfortunately, for a sequel, there's always the uncomfortable feeling of a missed opportunity. It's largely the same as the first game despite their being so much room for progress in the franchise. Rather than dividing off areas of the world into levels, I would have rather seen a more open world, dynamic ecosystem. The gameplay would fit so well into a game which simulated a more realistic environment, growing plants and breeding animals. This occasionally over-structured, overly dependable world is its only weakness. As for the Wii version specifically, not much has changed. From a purely technical standpoint, the game has learnt a few of the Wii's tricks, it now outputs at 480p if you have a component cable, this will give you a deinterlaced image with a full 60fps. However, if you've an eye sensitive to resolution then I'd advise leaving it on the standard 576i. It's a significant bump in the amount of pixels on screen and you're more likely the notice the lower resolution than the drop to 50 frames per second. For most Wii titles this wouldn't be as obvious but Pikmin with its vast foliage and grassy textures really enjoys the extra pixels. The new Wii control system is alright, it's not really a match for the Gamecube controller but unfortunately the option to use it hasn't been retained. It's something of an uncomfortable adaptation and forces the use of the Wii-Mote's pointing function where the original used a second analogue stick/ Most of the time it's not a problem but there are too many occasions where the camera angle or level design makes pointing at your chosen target awkward and frustrating. These wrinkles aside, Pikmin is an excellent game and something of a rarity in that it is a triple-A, first class Nintendo game that isn't part of a franchise that has been rehashed a thousand times. It was a must own on the Gamecube and despite not being promoted so much this time around, it's still really a must own for the Wii.