"Gotta Friend 'em All"
In late 2010, a game came out, a game called PokéPark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure. A Pokémon spin-off, it was met with mixed reviews. Despite this, a sequel was made and is now out. I've been playing it the last few days, so now I can tell you whether or not PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond will win back those who decried its predecessor or not.
Short answer: it probably won't. But don't take that as a sign that the game is a fail. Read on and see why I say that with such certainty!
I shall begin with the plot, which, to be honest, kind of surprised me. PokéPark 2 begins innocently enough, with Pikachu hanging at the beach, when he (I think of Pikachu as a guy. Sorry to those who consider him a girl) discovers a portal that fellow Pokémon have been going through. The portal leads him to Wish Park, a magic amusement park that will allow him and the others to play forever. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the ones running the park are trying to enslave the pokémon of PokéPark.
In order to free the trapped pokémon, Pikachu travels across PokéPark, hunting down clues and learning the truth behind the proprietors of Wish Park. Now, what surprised me about the plot was that there are some genuine moments of suspense and drama, moments like when Pikachu is forced to leave a friend of his trapped in Wish Park at the beginning, or when it is revealed that Pikachu is destined to save the world like a hero of legend. I know that may sound silly, considering it's, well, Pokémon, but there were some rather suspenseful moments. And while PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond lacks the greatest writing, the story makes for a fun little adventure that should keep you entertained.
Joining Pikachu on his journey, are the three starter pokémon from Pokémon Black and White, each with their own special abilities. You've got Oshawott, who can swim and access areas that can only be gotten to by water; Snivy, who can jump to high ledges, as well as run fast; and Tepig, who can break down obstructive barriers. You can switch between the four Pokémon at any time, which is good since you will need to employ all four, frequently, to progress through PokéPark and find hidden portals to Wish Park's four areas. Once you find these portals and cross over, you must then clear one of the park's "amusements" (read: mini-game) and defeat a boss in order to rescue the Pokémon in each area.
The problem, though, is getting there. The thing about those portals I mentioned in the last paragraph is that they can't be opened by just our heroes alone. They need some help, and that help comes in the form of the 200-or-so pokémon that inhabit PokéPark. But in order to get a Pokémon's help, you first need to become friends with them. This is done is a few ways. Mostly, you have to challenge them to a game of "Chase" (a cat-and-mouse kind of game where you chase them down through the area) or a battle (a duel where you have to deplete your opponent's health gauge before the same happens to you). Other ways to win Pokémon onto your friends list include: successfully answering quiz questions, giving them items, or showing them photos (which you can take at any time in the game) of certain Pokémon. Doing these things also rewards you with berries, which act as the game's currency and allow you to buy things like items or enhancements to your team's health, speed, and attack strength.
I think the fact that it is important to make friends is one of the things that makes Wonders Beyond worthwhile. The game encourages you to interact with every one you see, and as a result the areas you come across, which could have been somewhat lifeless, feel rather bustling. Unfortunately, there is not much variety to be found in these interactions. Like I said, most friends are made after you own them at Chases and battles, and after that all you can do with them is challenge them again. Same thing with the others. Also, not helping is the fact that said Chases and battles are rather simple in their execution, mainly button-mashing affairs that were, in most cases, a cakewalk to beat.
At the end of the day, though, PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond is a charming game, even though simple gameplay and unnecessary repetitiveness bog it down from what it could have been. Despite its faults, I feel the good, such as the fun story and hundreds of Pokémon you can interact with, outweighs the bad (I'm feeling optimistic, possibly due to the game's cheery nature). If a slower-paced, more laidback alternative to the RPG action of the main Pokémon series is what you're fancying, then you may find wonders playing this (get it? That was a pun. I was… oh, never mind).
GameDynamo's Score for PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond (Wii)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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