Pika Pika Pikachu! – PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond Review
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Wii.
Grab your Pokédex because PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond has hit shelves. Is this sequel a worthwhile addition to the Pokémon universe, or just another attempt to squeeze some extra dollars from parents? Let’s find out!
PokéPark 2’s story starts with a conversation between the two legendary Pokémon, Reshiram and Zekrom. Both beings can sense a darkness coming that threatens the existence of the park and its inhabitants. However, they also detect a spark of light that could prevent this disaster from happening. Around the same time, a young Pokémon named Pikachu arrives in the park. He is greeted by his friend, Piplup, who invites him to play around the beach with him.
Quickly, they discover that a new area called Wish Park has opened that offers free games and all the cake you can eat. The attraction proves to be too good to be true, however, as the cake is designed to hypnotize visitors into never wanting to leave. Noticing these effects before he eats his slice of the hypno-cake, Pikachu flees Wish Park to meet with the heads of PokéPark to end this nightmare and rescue his captured friends. Overall, the storyline is a pleasant one and is full of good lessons for kids, such as the value of friendship and never taking candy (or in this case cake) from strangers.
PokéPark 2 is in essence a free-roaming game. Players are able to wander the park as they see fit, sample various games and attractions, and mingle with other Pokémon. Some areas are off-limits though, until you get further into the story. To do this, one must befriend other Pokémon and compete in various mini-games.
To make someone your friend you will need to play with them first. There are four main events a Pokémon will usually want to play (Hide and Seek, Battle, Quiz, and Chase), though on some occasions others will want something found or a photo to be taken.
Hide and Seek is exactly as it sounds: you’ll be given a hint on the hider’s location, and then it’s your goal to find them. Quiz presents you with a multiple choice question that you need to answer correctly (and you can usually find the correct response nearby), whereas Chase has players race to tag a Pokémon within a certain time limit.
Battle is a bit more advanced than your stand-alone Pokémon game. Unlike the main Pokémon games where combat is done in 2D like an RPG, PP2 gives players full control of movement and actions in 3D, more akin to a fighting game. Players need to avoid blows from the enemy while landing hits of their own. Quick attacks can be strung together in a combo, powerful skills can be charged to deliver a heavy strike. Also, unique abilities can be used by shaking the Wii-mote.
Certain friends made via storyline will also become controllable, allowing the player to use them in place of Pikachu. Each Pokémon has strengths, weaknesses, and abilities too, so knowing when to use who is integral in gameplay.
While violence may seem to be an issue in a game catered to children, PokéPark 2 handles it a bit differently. Battling is apparently healthy for Pokémon, and no fight is ever started out of anger or hate, but more geared towards exercise and friendly competition. This combat system is easily the highlight of the game, and feels like a natural choice given that the main Pokémon series is based around these PokéBattles.
Every so often, players will come across mini-games called Attractions. These little events differ greatly from other gameplay aspects. Where the majority of the main game is played with the Wii-mote sideways, Attractions make use of motion controls and are similar to the various games found in the Mario Party series. Players will take actions like point-and-shooting globs of dough to form cake, dancing with the remote in a way comparable to Just Dance, and tilting the controller to fly through space to collect gems. Each game also supports up to four players, so you can game with your friends.
While these mini-games are fairly entertaining, they’ve taken a downgrade since the original PokéPark. In the first title there were 14 different Attractions to play and various befriended Pokémon could be used, depending on the event. However, in PP2 there are only four Attractions to play and only the Pokémon controllable in the main game can be used. This feels like a step back for the sequel, and is a big letdown.
Visually, PP2 is very pleasing. All graphics are smooth, with textures free of annoying pop or pixilation, and animation is very fluid. The various areas of PokéPark are each uniquely designed around the different Pokémon types, such as fire or grass, and are filled with various creatures from all five generations that naturally fit in their respective types of environment. Overall, the graphics have been developed very well, and are sure to have the kids’ eyes glued to the T.V..
From an audio perspective, PP2 is a good listen with a fantastic score. In the main park, players can expect grand brass melodies overtop powerful orchestral hits; while in Wish Park you’ll be treated to creepy and haunting themes played on celestas. While I was sad to not catch the original main Pokémon theme, the soundtrack is still very well composed and great to hum along to.
Every Pokémon also has a voice actor, but the character only says their own name instead of recorded lines. For example, Pikachu may speak something like, “Pika pee pika Pikachu!” but the subtitles will read, “I really like cake!” This leads to the usual senseless banter that children will find entertaining and hilarious, but will slowly drive adults mad.
When the park closes up shop for the day, PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond is a great side-game for the series. With a wonderful story full of subtle life lessons, simple yet fun gameplay, and all your favorite characters, it’s a definite buy for the young Pokémon lover in your family.
Final Score: 4.75 / 5.0 and a golden Pokéball.
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