Pikmin 2 Is Still a Perfect Nintendo Sequel

Olimar’s second entry won hearts and minds with one simple fix.

Pikmin 2 cover art
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Cogito, Ergo Sum. “I think, therefore I am.” René DesCartes dropped this banger in 1641, a rumination on the nature of doubt and self-reflection that influenced centuries of philosophy. He based a lot of his work on the notion of perfection and imperfection. Essentially, he says we know perfection is possible because we recognize imperfection exists. And while it may be easy to recognize when something is imperfect, it's much harder to define perfection. Unless you’re talking about video game sequels, in which case the answer is 2004’s Pikmin 2.

The Pikmin franchise is the brainchild of legendary Nintendo producer Shigeru Miyamoto. Conceived during an afternoon in his garden, Miyamoto modeled the sprightly, plant-like Pikmin after sprouts shooting up from the soil. The inaugural entry in the franchise came with 2001’s Pikmin, which saw players command intrepid space explorer Captain Olimar after he crash lands on a strange planet and enlists the help of the native Pikmin to repair his ship and return home.

Fueling the adventure is a unique action/strategy mechanic that has players commanding small squads of up to 100 Pikmin (each with their own unique abilities) through puzzles, combat, and boss fights. Like most Miyamoto joints, it’s effusively charming. And even though Pikmin never reached the heights of his other work with Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda, it still moved more than one million copies. It was popular with fans and critics alike, who marveled at the multitasking intensity required to finish the game within its self-imposed 30-day countdown.

For all the work Pikmin did to put the series on the Nintendo map, Pikmin 2 is where it won the hearts and minds of players. Returning fans immediately praised the most significant change: no more countdown timer. With a mandate to explore, players soon discovered there was an adorable heart beating at the center of Pikmin 2. The story saw Olimar returning home after the events of Pikmin only to discover that his space delivery company is now horribly in debt, so much so that his son’s gift (a bottle cap) is confiscated to help pay it off. His boss decides the best course of action is to send Olimar, along with a hapless companion named Louie, back to this mystery planet (Earth) to recover more of its treasures (junk).

Hundreds of small, silly jokes add mountains of charm to the world-building.


Pikmin 2 features a gargantuan amount of writing, especially for a Nintendo game. How much “story” is there in your average Super Mario title beyond a mandate to save the princess? Link is a silent protagonist, and although we get plenty of details about the history of Hyrule and his place as its Hero of Time, we know almost nothing about him, personally.

Pikmin 2 breaks away from all that. Olimar receives dozens of emails throughout the game from his family and friends that update him on all sorts of things. There’s a silly storyline of his wife living it up because his kids are in school all day and night, and the kids email their dad begging him to come home and save them. Olimar’s boss often chimes in with messages for him (or Louie) about the progress being made on the debt repayment. It creates a connection between Olimar and his other life that replicates the feeling of the first game’s countdown clock — that all roads lead you home — without putting a time limit on it.

Similarly, the tongue-in-cheek nature of the so-called treasures really sweetens the appeal of Pikmin 2. Seeing Earth through the eyes of these waylaid aliens provides a literal fresh perspective on the world that sticks with players long after they’ve stepped away from the game. Jars of peanut butter are “Nutrient Silos,” Famicom discs are "Cosmic Archives,” and so on across 201 different entries each with their own silly description. It adds a joyfulness to the discovery that keeps you looking even if you’re stuck on one of the interminable cave levels.

You’re introduced to Louie as the guy who f**ked everything up, and his role as a sometimes-protagonist doesn’t win him any fans, either.


Pikmin 2 expanded on a few other pieces of the core gameplay experience, too, like adding new types of Pikmin for Olimar to command, a new challenge mode, and a two-player competitive mode. It’s largely regarded as the best in the series because it clearly defined the series’ voice and tone. It also set the standard for sequels in the franchise with each subsequent title looking to improve and iterate on its predecessor to ever-increasing success. It launched the momentum that continues up to 2023’s Pikmin 4, which is the best-selling entry thus far. Fans will always argue about which is the perfect Pikmin game but, with its expanded story, campy writing, and host of quality-of-life improvements, there’s no question Pikmin 2 is the perfect sequel.

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