A sequel to the 2010 "PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure," PokePark 2: Wonders Beyond is a role-playing game about finding, playing with, and battling other Pokemon; playing mini-games called "Attractions;" and collecting berries so that you can upgrade your character's fighting and chasing abilities.
The player joins the adventure as Pikachu, the franchise's most beloved Pokemon monster. A cuddly, yellow animal with two red circles on his cheeks and a distinctive lightning bolt tail, Pikachu is the game's hero. Kids quickly learn how to move Pikachu and how he can fight.
While visiting PokePark, a large recreational area made up of different regions, Pikachu discovers a portal to a magical place known as Wish Park. The problem is that Wish Park is evil; and the Pokemon who go there don't often return. Pikachu and his fellow monster Oshawott head up a mission to rescue hundreds of trapped Pokemon from Wish Park.
As the game unfolds, monsters Snivy and Tepig join Pikachu and Oshawott, so the player has four monsters to switch among. Each has its own strengths. For example, Oshawott can swim in water and Snivy is very good at jumping up to high places.
To save all of the Pokemon from the dangers of Wish Park, players will need to enter the eerie-looking Wish Park from the different portals scattered throughout PokePark's regions. Players can free the trapped Pokemon by playing the different Attractions and earning a high score. For example, one of the Attractions is a shooting gallery full of cakes, where you zing bits of cake dough to earn points. These Attractions can be replayed with other players after being unlocked.
However, getting to Wish Park isn't easy. The four little Pokemon on this mission don't have enough power to open the portals. They will need to make friends with other Pokemon in each of the regions and then call upon their combined power of friendship to open the portals.
As a consequence, making friends is a key play mechanic in PokePark 2. Friendship can be attained in one of three ways: defeat another Pokemon in a fight, win a contest or perform a favor. Since this is an "E-rated" game, the fights are cartoony and involve repeatedly knocking over the other character until its Health Points (HP) disappear. Defeating another Pokemon in battle earns its respect and results in immediate friendship. The same is true if you can beat a Pokemon in a contest such as a game of chase. This version of tag is a little more rough-and-tumble than what is typically played on playgrounds, since you win by knocking over your opponent. Doing another Pokemon a favor may be as simple as finding a missing object.
Since being good in battle and fast in chasing are crucial to being able to make friends, players should spend time with any training masters. The masters will require berries (the currency of this world that are easy to find and earn) as payment before they help you to upgrade your attacks and speed.
The game also has fun little platform puzzles that are hidden throughout the park. These timed challenges have you rapidly switching between characters to navigate through water and up over high obstacles. Kids will also be able to take photos within the game, some of which are needed to befriend other Pokemon.
PokePark 2 is a slow-moving role-playing game which grows on you the longer you play. Kids will spend a lot of time wandering around looking for new Pokemon. They will fight a lot, and play more games of chase than they can count.
The constant battling of others makes this game more attractive to little boys than girls; and yet the slow pace, the bucolic settings and ability to befriend others by doing them favors will appeal to girls. As such, PokePark 2 is a weird mix of play patterns. But given that the fighting is a constant, parents looking for games with no violence should steer away from this one.
Another aspect of the game that isn't quite right is the navigation system. You play holding the Wii remote horizontally, using the multidirectional pad to steer. This is a very difficult way to control your monster while in chase mode. The game would have been a lot easier and more fun if you could have used a nunchuk for steering.
Even with these niggles, PokePark 2 is an engaging game for kids who love collecting Pokemon monsters. Parents will appreciate that the game requires kids to read, since communicating with Pokemon is via talk bubbles. And the dialog is full of humor. Pokemon fans will enjoy meeting each unique and cute monster, as they navigate pretty worlds filled with varied music.
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